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Copenhagen Day Eight

A unique Canadian contribution

By David MacDonald

Canada’s International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) may not be a household word in our country, yet for almost 20 years it has been making a quiet but effective contribution to resolving some of the toughest global environmental problems. Its presence is being felt in Copenhagen.

Each morning, thousands of conference participants are greeted with a four-page newssheet published overnight by IISD. The long time editor (and an old friend of mine) is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI. A onetime professional clown, he came to Canada from Texas. He and I became acquainted more than 20 years ago when he reported on the intricate preparations for the Rio Earth Summit. His news service has had unique and unrestricted access to all the negotiations on climate change for the last two decades.

I went to a IISD reception last night with Moderator Mardi Tindal and author Alanna Mitchell. I was delighted to cross paths with Bill Blaikie, a United Church minister, former long-time member of Parliament and the recently appointed Minister of Conservation for Manitoba, the  province’s minister for environmental issues.

At this same event was Mayor Basil Stewart of Summerside, P.E.I., president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who is among a number of mayors and provincial leaders who have come to Copenhagen. Shawn Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and other First Nations and Inuit leaders are also present. That is important because all three levels of government and civil society need to represent Canada at a conference as crucial as this.

During the day on Monday a number of ocean experts from around the world shared their research. For many years, experts have been preoccupied with what has been happening to the atmosphere, However, it now appears that even more serious disruptions are affecting the oceans. This first Oceans Day at a climate conference was a wakeup call. In May of next year it will be the focus of a special UN meeting in Paris.

All in all, Monday was a good day.

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