UPEI Climate Research Lab hosts two-day international symposium on human health and adaptation under climate change

Symposium keynote is by the Honourable David MacDonald
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Symposium keynote speaker, the Honourable David MacDonald

UPEI’s Climate Research Lab is hosting a two-day international symposium, October 5 and 6, entitled Adapting to a New Human Health Reality under Climate Change. The media are invited to the keynote presentation by the Honourable David MacDonald at 2 pm, October 5, in the Grafton Room, Rodd Charlottetown Hotel, 75 Kent Street, Charlottetown.

Global climate change is seen as one of the greatest threats to the future of humankind and the world. While climate mitigation strategies are necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from human-created sources, those alone are unlikely to be sufficient to eliminate the negative impacts of climate change. The impacts of climate change from emissions of greenhouse gases over the past 150 years will have to be confronted by all jurisdictions. Therefore, pursuing a complementary strategy of enabling jurisdictions to adapt to climate change and negate many of the expected adverse impacts is equally, if not more, urgent.

This symposium will examine the state-of-the-science with regards to climate change and human health, and allow discussions that will hopefully guide jurisdictions to develop and implement adaptation policy and build resilience to the effects of climate change. The symposium is organized around the key themes of emergency and disaster management; nutrition and food security; indigenous peoples’ health; perinatal health; vector-borne diseases; and air quality. It will bring together climate experts who may not have considered the significance of human health, and human health experts who may not have focused their attention on climate change. Together with an invited group of audience participants from government, industry, and non-governmental organizations, this symposium will address the pressing issue of climate change and human health in an action-oriented and policy-focused series of dialogues.

The Honourable David MacDonald grew up in Prince Edward Island. He is a graduate of Prince of Wales College, Dalhousie University, and Pine Hill Divinity Hall. He also holds several honorary degrees in law and divinity. He was ordained as a United Church Minister in June of 1961, serving as pastor of the United Church in Alberton, Prince Edward Island, from 1962 to 1965.

He was elected as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament in 1965, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1979, and 1988; first, as the representative for western PEI, and second, for Rosedale (Toronto Centre). In 1979, he was appointed Secretary of State, Minister of Communications, and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. In June 1997, he was the NDP candidate for Toronto Centre–Rosedale. In 1984, he was appointed Canadian Emergency Coordinator/African Famine and, in 1986, Canadian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti.

From 1989–1993, he chaired the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment, the ad hoc Parliamentary Committee on AIDS, and the House of Commons Liaison Committee. Since the early 1990s, he has been actively involved in a number of national and international organizations committed to just and sustainable communities, human rights, and peace. Since 2008, he has been a member of the Board of Directors for Faith and the Common Good, a national interfaith network and charitable organization. Since December 1998, he has served as Special Advisor on Indian Residential Schools for the United Church of Canada and, more recently, on Climate and Ocean Change.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island. UPEI is located on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People.

Dave Atkinson
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