Catherine Potvin is a Professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University. She is a plant biologist who specializes in tropical forest ecology and conservation. Tropical forests play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle and for species conservation. Currently, Dr. Potvin is preoccupied by climate change and is passionately searching for solutions with her research group. These entail the study of land uses and the protection of forests in full respect for the people that live in or from them. This is why the banner of her laboratory is “Science for empowerment”.
Dr. Potvin earned a B.Sc. and a M.Sc. at l’Université de Montréal, and then, in 1985 she completed a Ph.D. in Botany from Duke University in North Carolina. She has been with the Biology Department at McGill University for 25 years.
The Paris Agreement is spelling the beginning of global de-carbonization. In Paris, Canada positioned itself as part of the alliance of highly ambitious countries. So, what should be done next?
In the context of the transition towards a low carbon economy, Dr. Potvin will present the work of Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a network of more than 60 scholars from all 10 provinces of Canada who together drafted a climate action plan for the country. The scholars, with disciplinary backgrounds ranging from engineering to business to biology to sociology, produced a consensus on science-based, viable solutions. At the centre of this climate action plan are ten key policy guidelines relevant to citizens, municipalities, regions and the entire country, which identify building blocks for the transition towards a low-carbon economy.
These policy guidelines will be presented and discussed in the context of the Muskoka region. Moving away from the usual negative discourse emphasizing the need to reduce environmental harm, Sustainable Canada Dialogues proposes practical actionable solutions. Dr. Potvin will emphasize that climate change mitigation efforts in Canada demand a transition towards a new model of development improving both human livelihoods and environmental quality. While people feel overwhelmed by the problem of climate change and are terrified to hear about a visibly melting Arctic, tornadoes and droughts, she will show how the transition could help build a new futures vision for Canada while opening important opportunities for innovation and employment. It is time to consider climate change actions as opportunities. The time ahead of us challenging but exciting and mobilising.