UBC Graduate Research

Co-defining biodiversity for climate action : Values, interconnections and policy to inform CAP 2030 Gillies, Emma; Green, Georgia; Lee, Eun-hye; Thurber, Shanti


This research project is about definitions, values and perceptions of biodiversity from the perspective of the University of British Columbia (UBC) community in the context of climate change. The co-defining process undertaken, wherein students, staff, and faculty discussed their experiences and values of biodiversity, will inform UBC’s Climate Action Plan (CAP 2030). The objectives of this project were to understand and communicate different definitions, values, and perceptions of biodiversity, its connections to climate change, and how these understandings can be incorporated into CAP 2030. To address these objectives, we used a range of methods and divided our findings into three main parts. In part one, we explain the findings of our literature review and how our research questions tie into the larger social-ecological-systems (SES) framework. In part two, we describe methods and key findings from a workshop, in which members of the UBC community “co-defined” biodiversity and discussed their relationships to biodiversity within the context of climate change. In part three, we discuss the findings from a survey and how biodiversity, climate change, and policy come together. The literature review, workshop, and survey found that biodiversity is valued and perceived in many different ways, but UBC community members are typically more familiar with defining biodiversity in a scientific manner. UBC community members generally feel somewhat disconnected from local biodiversity issues, and although the literature review, workshop, and survey made clear that biodiversity and climate change are intricately connected, it appears that the link between the two is not currently made clear in a UBC context. Moving forward, we recommend that CAP 2030 recognizes a plurality of understandings of biodiversity (rather than a single definition); highlights nature-based solutions and the importance of protecting biodiversity at the UBC scale; and includes people from diverse backgrounds in the drafting process. To inspire biodiversity and climate action on campus in general and strengthen the efficacy of CAP 2030, we recommend that the university increase education and awareness of biodiversity and climate change on campus, and that UBC leadership champion campus biodiversity conservation as a major goal. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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