Government of Canada invests $6M in climate change adaptation and interdisciplinary research at McGill

 Two McGill-led climate change mitigation projects receive funding from the New Frontiers in ResearchFund’s (NFRF) International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Competition.Thirteen researchers receive grants through the NFRF Exploration Competition.

Today, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of National Revenue, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced more than $92 million in funding through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) to support 165 Canadian-led research projects through two initiatives: the 2023 International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation , and the 2023 Exploration competition. The New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) is an initiative by the government of Canada that supports world-leading interdisciplinary, international, high-risk, high-reward, transformative and rapid response Canadian-led research.

McGill was awarded $2.95 million dollars in total for two projects in the International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Competition. Professor Chandra Madramootoo , Distinguished James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, received $1.5 million from the NFRF’s 2023 International Joint Initiative for Research in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation competition. Professor Melissa McKinney , Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Ecological Change and Environmental Stressors and Associate Professor at McGill’s Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, received $1.45 million.

Thirteen McGill researchers, including two affiliated with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), were awarded grants through the Exploration Competition for a total research investment of 3.2 million.  Consult the complete list of Exploration Grant Awardees

International Joint Initiative projects are funded to design and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies for vulnerable groups who, because of their physical and socio-economic vulnerability, are most at risk in the face of climate change. Exploration grants support research with a range of impacts-economic, scientific, artistic, cultural, social, technological, environmental or health-related.

"McGill University thanks the Government of Canada for this important investment in world-leading climate change mitigation and interdisciplinary research programs," says Martha Crago, Vice-President, Research and Innovation. "For the well-being of the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems in Canada and internationally, we need innovative, adaptive strategies such as those being developed by Professors Madramootoo and McKinney. I congratulate them and all the researchers on their successes in these funding competitions."

A Flood Resilience Framework for the Caribbean Region

Flooding in coastal and riverine communities due to sea level rise in the countries of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia poses serious risks for the people, infrastructure and agriculture in these areas. Led by Madramootoo, the NFRF funded initiative, Collaboratively Designed and Managed Flood Resilience Framework for Affected Communities in the Caribbean Region will be co-designed with communities, and national and regional agencies that are charged with flood monitoring, adaptation and mitigation as well as non-governmental agencies providing flood relief. The project aims to create a flood resilience framework that will include a co-developed risk hazard prediction and response model, as well as improved policies and an institutional framework for flood risk planning and management. Additional funding for the project is also being provided through the United Kingdom’s Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

At the national funding announcement hosted by Carleton University, Madramootoo participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Valérie Laflamme, Associate Vice-President for the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), together with Minister Bibeau, and Elisabeth Gilmore, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carleton.

Madramootoo spoke about how his work addresses the Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) , which highlights that unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate are being observed in every region, impacting all’ecosystems and societies, and will continue to intensify with further warming. His project addresses several of the representative key risks, including risks to low-lying coastal socio-ecological systems, risks associated with critical physical infrastructure, risks to living standards, and to food security.

WhaleAdapt: Adaptation of vulnerable subsistence-based communities

Countries of the Global South and Indigenous communities are especially vulnerable to climate change, partly due to reliance on local, wild-caught foods. Though at least 54 species of toothed whales are an important food source in more than 80 countries worldwide, there are significant knowledge gaps about whale populations, including about their nutritional value, and their socioeconomic importance to communities in the context of escalating climate change.

Led by McKinney, the project, WhaleAdapt, is an international collaboration of researchers and organizations in Canada, the US, Denmark and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. "The project is guided by an overarching question", says McKinney." "How can vulnerable communities reliant on whale consumption adapt successfully to shifting marine resources due to climate change?" The goal, she says, "is to help communities across the affected countries to make sustainable, healthy and socio economically viable adaptations to shifting marine resources." Additional funding for the project is being provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF).