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The Victoria Forum 2024
The Victoria Forum 2024 - Bridging Divides: Turf, Trust and Truth

Day 2 - Plenary Session 2

August 29, 2022, 9:35-10:50 PST

Bridging Environmental Divides: Shifting our relationship with the natural world from extractive to regenerative

Humanity faces the dual risk of climate change and loss of natural capital and biodiversity, leading to what scientists call the “sixth mass extinction;” where as much as half of all present species could be extinct by 2100. Increases in polarization (political, social, and ideological) and misinformation hinder our ability to even discuss, much less develop, collective solutions to these problems. Left unabated, estimates of the global economic damage from climate change could have a present-discounted value as high as $22.5 trillion by 2100 in lost labour productivity, declining crop yields, food shortages, early deaths, property damage, breakdown of infrastructure networks, water shortages, air pollution, flooding, fires, and more. This session will analyse our quest to shift our relationship with the natural world from extractive to regenerative by bridging environmental divides through three primary themes:

Who has the trust to communicate our truth about our turf (place)?


  • Don Shafer image

    Don Shafer

    University of British Columbia
    Don Shafer image

    Don Shafer

    Veteran Broadcaster/Podcaster University of British Columbia

    Don Shafer is a veteran broadcaster/podcaster, settler scholar, and community activist. He served as a cryptologist in the US Army, studied Psychology and English at the University of Texas and Communications and Journalism at the University of Southern California. As a lifetime learner he completed his master’s degree in the Humanities at Simon Fraser University in 2018, and is currently a PhD student with the Social Justice Institute at UBC, a sessional instructor at BCIT, City University, and UBC’s Climate Hub.

    Don is the recipient of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015 and was recognized for his work in media and in his community. His leadership was responsible for developing iconic radio brands across Canada such as CHOM FM, CHUM FM, Q107, CFOX FM, ROCK 101 as well as Roundhouse Radio. He was a pioneer in developing online interactive branding platforms and webcasting for the Toronto Star Newspaper Group. Don is strong supporter of community organizations promoting the important work that they do on and off the air. He has served on the boards of Variety the Children’s Charity, PFLAG, the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, the Canadian, Ontario, and British Columbia Association of Broadcasters, and Advisory Boards of the University of British Columbia and The British Columbia Institute of Technology. He volunteers with Vancouver Co-op Radio and the Downtown Eastside Community Coordinated Response Network.

    Don’s research at UBC explores the words we use and how people talk about climate change and its interconnectedness with settler colonialism, white supremacy, and other intersecting social justice issues. His work explores these intersections and how these conversational ecosystems influence our thinking and meaning-making. He argues that many of these issues sit on the same foundations and that there are tipping points in conversations that open up or shut down how we talk across difference, which include race, gender, culture, politics and climate. He wants to find out if we can learn to speak to individuals and communities from different social, economic, religious, political or cultural backgrounds and fill structural holes where we can build trust and bridges of understanding.


  • Balgis Osman Elasha image

    Balgis Osman Elasha

    African Development Bank
    Balgis Osman Elasha image

    Balgis Osman Elasha

    Chief Climate Change and Green Growth Specialist African Development Bank

    Dr. Balgis Osman Elasha is a Climate Change and Green Growth Expert with African Development Bank. Osman-Elasha’s work has received global attention. A lead author of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, she was among a select few to represent the group in 2007 in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, next to Al Gore. The following year, she was awarded the UN’s Champions of the Earth Prize.

    The US State Department invited her to the United States in 2008 to take part in a science diplomacy programme, where she gave lectures on climate change at several American universities. Balgis Osman Elasha holds a PhD in Forestry Science, Master in Environmental Science and a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) with honor in Forestry and Agricultural Science. She has more than 17 years’ experience in different climate change issues with special focus on vulnerability and adaptation assessment related to African countries and the Middle East. Her achievements were the result of years of hard work and persistence. Like women studying the sciences everywhere, she was among a small group at her university.Osman-Elasha began her career doing forestry work at Sudan’s Forests National Corporation in the 1980s. Her Fuelwood Development for Energy project emphasized community forestry, fuel conservation, and sustainable forest management. As part of that project, her team distributed improved cookstoves to reduce firewood use. She credits this work with having introduced her to the climate variability experienced in rural areas of Sudan, and to the problems faced by the rural communities.

    Osman-Elasha began her climate change work as a researcher in the Climate Change Unit at Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources. Her work there included conducting greenhouse gas analyses, which caused her to realize the link between rising greenhouse gases and deforestation in Sudan. Her research there addressed climate change vulnerabilities and adaptations in drought-prone regions.

  • Rosa Galvez image

    Rosa Galvez

    Senate of Canada
    Rosa Galvez image

    Rosa Galvez

    Senator Senate of Canada

    Rosa Galvez is an environmental engineer, an independent senator at the Senate of Canada since 2016, and the President of the Parliamentary Network on Climate Change of ParlAmericas, a network of parliamentarians from the Americas. She was a professor at Laval University in Québec for over 25 years and she was Chair of the Civil and Water Engineering department from 2011 to 2017. Her expertise is on water and wastewater treatment, watershed management, sustainable development, municipal and hazardous waste, site remediation, impact assessment and climate risk to infrastructure.

    At the Senate, she is a member of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources which she chaired during the 42nd Parliament. In 2021, she was the sponsor in the Senate of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, providing an accountability framework for the federal government to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. She was also recipient of the Clean50 Award 2021 for her parliamentary work on climate and the environment. In March 2022, she published a white paper on Aligning Canadian Finance with Climate Commitments, which led to the introduction in the Senate of Bill S-243, the Climate-Aligned Finance Act, legislation to help guide the financial sector in its transition to a net-zero economy.

  • Wendy Smith image

    Wendy Smith

    University of Delaware
    Wendy Smith image

    Wendy Smith

    Professor University of Delaware

    Wendy Smith earned her Ph.D. in organizational behavior at Harvard Business School, and is currently a professor of management at the Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics and Co-director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at the University of Delaware.

    Wendy’s research focuses on strategic paradoxes – how leaders and senior teams effectively respond to contradictory agendas. She studies how organizations and their leaders simultaneously explore new possibilities while exploiting existing competencies, and how social enterprises simultaneously attend to social missions and financial goals. Her research has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, Organization Science and Management Science. In 2018, she won the University of Delaware’s first Mid-Career Excellence in Scholarship Award. In 2015, she won the Lerner College Outstanding Scholar Award.

    Wendy teaches leadership, organizational behavior and business ethics. She has taught MBAs and undergraduates at University of Delaware, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania – Wharton. Wendy was awarded the University of Delaware MBA Teaching Award in 2016. Wendy has also taught executive and senior leadership teams how to manage interpersonal dynamics, emotional intelligence, high performing teams, organizational change and innovation, managing in times of crisis, and managing strategic paradoxes.

  • Kresse Wesling image

    Kresse Wesling

    Elvis and Kresse
    Kresse Wesling image

    Kresse Wesling

    Entrepreneur Elvis and Kresse

    Kresse Wesling MBE is a Canadian-born, Kent-based, multi-award winning environmental entrepreneur and Young Global Leader with a background in venture capital and significant start-up experience.

    Kresse founded her first business, an environmental packaging alternatives company, in Hong Kong in 2002. By 2004 she launched this business in the UK and has since helped to build two other sustainable businesses; Babaloo, a mother and baby business and Yew Clothing, a line of eco-sports and casual wear.Then in 2005, Kresse and her partner James Henrit (Elvis) had a chance encounter with the London Fire Brigade where they learned that all of London’s damaged and decommissioned fire hoses were destined for landfill. Seeing the potential in the pillar box red heavy-duty material that the hoses were made from, the duo cut a deal with London Fire Brigade and set up Elvis & Kresse and started turning London’s fire hoses into luxury handbags. To give back they pledged to donate 50% of all profits from the Fire-hose Collection to The Fire Fighters Charity.

    Kresse has also served as a Social Enterprise Ambassador for the UK Government and as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

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