From left: Emily MacNair, Dylan Clark and Stephanie Cairns.

From left: Emily MacNair, Dylan Clark and Stephanie Cairns.

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions celebrates its 15th anniversary beginning this April, with a renewal of purpose steeped in its founding values while focused firmly on the future of climate research and action in B.C. and beyond.

Part of that renewal is the creation of three new roles at PICS — director of strategic policy and analysis, director of adaptation and community engagement, and associate director of research and operations — all of which point to the value of partnerships among and between researchers, governments and the communities they serve.

“Fifteen years later, as the floods and fires and droughts and heatwaves have raged on, we need to double down on our capacities and mandate to provide meaningful and lasting climate solutions,” says Ian Mauro, executive director of PICS.

“We have to be in a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our partners,” he adds. “That helps us to understand the key priorities facing the various sectors that we work with.”

Helping advance those goals is what Mauro calls a PICS “dream team” of new directors who start work in April and May.

Stephanie Cairns is director of strategic policy and analysis, her latest role in a multi-decade and award-winning career as a consultant, government advisor, environmental thinktank staffer and board member focused on climate and energy policy, circular economy, and ecological restoration.

“I hope to bring a closer relationship between decision makers and the expertise that is available in the community that PICS represents,” Cairns says. “There’s a lot of world-class research happening in those four institutions; how do we make it more accessible and available to decision makers both in B.C. and on the broader stage?”

She says PICS’ re-commitment to its core mandate of bridging research to decision-makers and its focus on solutions were key considerations in her joining the organization “because there’s a risk that we tip into environmental doom-ism and the feeling that problems are too big to solve.”

For Dylan Clark, PICS’ new associate director research and operations, what attracted him was the institute’s role as “an organization that translates knowledge and research into better climate policies and actions across the province.”

Most recently the Canadian Climate Institute’s research lead, Clark says his focus has been looking at how people and communities are affected by climate change and thinking about ways governments can help build adaptability and better protect people as changes worsen.

“There’s so much happening in B.C. around climate policy,” he says. “In the last few years, we’ve seen some of the deadliest and costliest disasters in the province’s history. I think there’s real attention being placed on what that means — especially what it means for us in reducing emissions and making people safer.”

Emily MacNair, formerly director of the Climate and Agriculture Initiative BC, joins PICS as its director of adaptation and community engagement.

“Adaptation is hugely challenging and complex,” she says. “Collaboration adds to those layers of complexity, of course, but working together is absolutely critical to making any progress.”

Also critical, she says, is a collaborative approach in connecting researchers with the officials who set policy as well as the communities affected by climate change.

“A big part of what I bring to PICS is deep experience working not just with every level of government, but also with a range of other partners, and in bringing those groups together,” MacNair says, adding, “Ian [Mauro] has expressed to me a strong commitment to collaborating effectively with partners and government, and helping to move forward climate priorities.”

“We’re very fortunate to have had the quality of people appointed into these positions,” says Mauro.

“PICS’ superpower is its ability to convene the larger community of researchers, stakeholders and Indigenous rights holders that are part of and need to be involved in this conversation of how we work together to achieve the goals that we collectively have to advance a low-carbon, resilient society.”

That’s part of the renewal of PICS, he says, noting the organization is seeking to better align climate research across its member institutions — UVic, UBC, SFU and UNBC — with the priorities of Nations, provincial and local governments, civil society organizations, and communities throughout British Columbia and Canada.

“PICS was originally set up to develop research partnerships, training and capacity building, and knowledge mobilization that was relevant, applicable, and actionable by a diversity of constituencies” he says. “We want to continue to ensure that the amazing research taking place across our network generates climate solutions that are in the service of society.”

As PICS is committed to the power of partnerships and holding space to contemplate and address both the enormous challenges and opportunities ahead, the institute will be hosting engagement and collaboration events throughout its 15th anniversary year, both online and in person. Watch for more information.