Manitoba first province to sign right to healthy environment declaration championed by Dr. David Suzuki

The Manitoba government will invest $400,000 over the next two years in the new Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg, Premier Greg Selinger announced today, adding that Manitoba also becomes the first Canadian province to sign the Blue Dot Declaration put forward by the David Suzuki Foundation, which demonstrates the province’s commitment to a healthy environment for all Manitobans.

“Manitobans and their families have seen the effects of climate change first-hand, and the financial and emotional impacts severe weather events can have on our communities,” said Premier Selinger. “By investing in this centre, it is clear that our government views the environment and the effects of climate change as some of our highest priorities. By becoming the first province to sign the Blue Dot Declaration, we are committing to introduce legislation to provide all Manitobans with a healthy environment, we are ensuring sustainable prosperity for future generations.”

The centre is a partnership between The University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and will be hosted by UWinnipeg’s Richardson College for the Environment. The centre’s goal is to provide municipal governments, the private sector, civil society organizations and other practitioners with practical information and tools to engage in effective climate-change adaptation planning.

“Planning for the effects of climate change is critically important for Manitoba municipalities, as well as industries in our province. Floods, storms, fires, droughts – all can have catastrophic impacts on communities and people,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor, UWinnipeg. “By collaborating and pooling our research and expertise and making that easily available to others, the new Prairie Climate Centre is meeting a real-world need.”

“We are undoubtedly living in a warming world, with serious implications for future generations, and we must increase our capacity to understand and act on this pressing global issue,” said Dr. David Suzuki, co-founder, Suzuki Foundation. “Research, education and outreach facilities like the Prairie Climate Centre will generate meaningful solutions and I congratulate Manitoba for committing to this important initiative.”

One of the first of many projects for the centre is to support a documentary film by Dr. Ian Mauro on Manitoba’s boreal forest and the vital role it plays in carbon capture and implications of climate change, the premier noted.

“The boreal forest is one of the most important ecosystems on the planet. It helps sustain us, both globally and locally, and is home to many Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities whose knowledge of this landscape is integral to its protection,” said Dr. Mauro. “Through film, we will engage the region and its people, and provide Manitobans an opportunity to reflect on this ecological and cultural richness and strategies to conserve it.”

The province will invest $200,000 in 2015-16 and $200,000 in 2016-17 in support of the centre.

“Now more than ever, protecting our boreal forest and the status of the proposed east side UNESCO World Heritage Site and advancing environmental science are critical to Manitobans,” said Premier Selinger. “Together with all of our partners, we need to embrace scientific research in order to prevent further climate change and restoring the health of Lake Winnipeg and our waterways while also lessening the immediate and long-term impacts on Manitobans.”