Introduction to the Series
- Jump Ahead: Looking for ForecastNL documents and video recordings? Visit our ForecastNL Materials page!
the state we're in
Newfoundland and Labrador is currently facing a series of pressing economic and social issues that will have both short and long-term consequences: substantial provincial debt, increased by our fiscal dependence on declining revenues from oil and gas and by the unexpected additional costs of Muskrat Falls; a declining and aging population; and the local and global effects of the recent shut-down of core industries, such as fisheries and tourism, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic response. The effects of these social and economic threats will be worsened by the deepening climate emergency and its anticipated effects on oceans, coastal areas, health, and infrastructure. All of these issues combined have left citizens and policy makers uncertain how to proceed.
the coming storm
There has emerged an overwhelming agreement among climate and natural scientists that, if not addressed, current projections for our warming climate will likely have devastating impacts on our natural, social, and economic systems. The urgency for NL becomes apparent as we consider how closely linked our culture and economy are with our natural environment; aside from the health and well-being of citizens and communities, the strength and survival of the fishing, farming, forestry, and tourism industries are all reliant on the health of our natural environment.
Although our provincial economy has relied heavily on the continued development of the oil and gas industry, with a global push toward renewable energy and lowering carbon emissions, the environmental, social and economic sustainability of our province rests on our ability to find innovative ways of reducing carbon emissions. For the last 20 years, the provincial economy has relied heavily on the continued development of the oil and gas industry, and while the call to diversify the economy has always been there, it’s perhaps never been so necessary. Aside from the environmental and social obligation to reduce our own provincial carbon footprint, the global push toward renewable energy and lowering carbon emissions, combined with the instability of global oil prices, has created an economic incentive to look to innovative solutions as well.
where to from here?
This, combined with the current economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, has created a situation where we can no longer afford to look at any of these issues in isolation. With an economy and society sustained by natural resource-extraction industries, we need to be thoughtful, collaborative, and innovative in our development of solutions. We must tackle climate change while also shoring up our economy and reinforcing the long-term sustainability of our communities. Creative and practical solutions already exist, but they cannot be adapted and brought to scale without a balanced approach and open dialogue.
The Harris Centre—as an independent knowledge broker and facilitator, with a mandate to encourage respectful dialogue and informed decision making— spent 18 months bringing together key stakeholders and facilitating a province-wide discussion to tackle the question:
How can NL create economic and social prosperity while mitigating and adapting to climate change?
Who was Involved?
In addition to the Harris Centre team managing the events, website and facilitating dicussions, the ForecastNL project has a dedicated Steering Committee comprised of industry, community, Indigenous, and academic leaders who bring a broad range of perspectives and experience to the table; these individuals have knowledge of the economy and society of NL, as well as varying expertise related to the environment, climate change, regional development, labour, and the energy industry.
- Facilitate informed public dialogue and discussion regarding the intersection between climate, economy, and society in an effort to reframe the discussion beyond the polarization and competition of concerns;
- Provide a neutral platform for respectful discussion of ideas and solutions;
- Identify promising ideas, actions or approaches that arise during the discussion sessions and online forum, and share these findings with the appropriate organizations and individuals, and connect and facilitate further discussions where appropriate.
- ForecastNL was a public-dialogue process that provided a neutral platform to discuss ideas and solutions to create economic and social prosperity while mitigating and adapting to climate change. The process focused on bringing forward key information, stimulating respectful discussion, and uncovering ideas and solutions. The project engaged a wide range of participants from academia, industry, community, and government, as well as the general public.
- A demographically-representative Citizen Forum of residents of Newfoundland and Labrador over the age of 16 was formed to provide feedback on the various panels and presentations that were facilitated, creating an open dialogue between the presenters and the public.
- Information, discussion forums, and panel presentations are all available online. To view these materials (and much more!), CLICK HERE.
- Key-findings are currently being synthesized into a summative report, and in Fall 2022, we produced a special edition of Vital Signs dedicated to the project's findings.