Global average temperatures 1850-2018, Ed Hawkins, Author provided

Global average temperatures 1850-2018. Credit: Ed Hawkins. (University of Reading). Creative Commons Licence.

Universities or other institutions wanting to better support community wellbeing in relation to the climate crisis can now draw upon the findings of a new PICS-supported report, released this fall.

The Community Resilience and Wellbeing Amid the Climate Crisis report has been written by Meghan Wise, a University of British Columbia (UBC) Sustainability Scholar, with the support of the UBC Climate Hub, UBC Wellbeing and PICS. 

The report highlights the linkages between climate change, mental health, and community wellbeing, and recognizes that nurturing community resilience has become a central factor for helping communities mitigate and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. 

By way of a literature review, the report outlines ways to overcome barriers to building resilience, develops a set of guiding resilience principles, and offers five progressively staged recommendations to assist stakeholders in addressing climate change impacts on community mental health and wellbeing. 

The report identifies key climate threats to UBC Vancouver and Kelowna campuses including heat waves, forest fires, pandemic, flooding, and air pollution – and offers practical short, medium and long-term resilience building measures for facing those threats.

Though geared toward UBC stakeholders and decision-makers, the report can assist other institutions in identifying resilience principles, gaps in current frameworks and actions that support mental health and wellbeing. 

Meghan Wise says her research indicates an urgent need to shift public health impacts of climate change from a secondary to a primary focus for community planning, decision making, policies, and practices. 

“A recent UBC Climate Emergency Community Engagement survey of more than 2000 respondents found that more than half worry about the potential impacts of climate change at least once a day,” she says. “The climate crisis, alongside other stressors such as the current pandemic, are impacting mental health and wellbeing, and need to be addressed.”

Work is now underway to engage with UBC stakeholders to share the report's recommendations and encourage uptake.

This report was produced as part of the UBC Sustainability Scholars Program, a partnership between UBC and various local governments and organizations in support of providing graduate students with opportunities to do applied research on projects that advance sustainability across the region.