Day 2 - Plenary Session 1

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

Veteran broadcaster/podcaster, settler scholar, and community activist

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.


Kresse Wesling

Entrepreneur and co-founder of the luxury recycled accessories company 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. She has also served as a Social Enterprise Ambassador for the UK Government and as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

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.

Balgis Osman Elasha

Chief Climate Change and Green Growth Specialist in the African Development Bank, Regional Coordinator, North Africa Development and Business Delivery Centre

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.

Patricia Morales Errázuriz

CEO of Filantropía Cortés Solari (FCS)

Patricia Morales Errázuriz is the CEO of Filantropía Cortés Solari (FCS) a philanthropic group that promotes comprehensive and sustainable development in Chile through Science, Education and Conservation. Ms. Morales Errázuriz also holds a Master of Arts in Economics, from the Paris School of Economics (France), with university teaching experience in International Economics and Econometrics. In 2017, Ms. Morales Errázuriz  was awarded the 2017 Mujer Opina award for promoting women’s leadership in public policy and politics.

Ms. Morales Errázuriz has served as General Manager of Cortés Solari Philanthropy and Executive Director of Progresa Foundation Progressive Think Tank. Moreover, she has extensive experience in environmental education, engagement between the public, private and civil society sectors for the development of sustainable solutions, and public policy formulation that integrates social, environmental, cultural and economic perspectives. Since 2013, Morales Errázuriz has been a regular panelist in different radio programs and she is a former manager of the Latin Jazz group Infusion.  She is also a member of Pollens, interdisciplinary think tank at the Ecole normale superieure in France.

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