Appointment of the Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability (PDAD&C #43)

From: Meric Gertler, President
Date: December 16, 2016
Re: Appointment of the Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability  (PDAD&C #43)

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor John Robinson as Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability for a three-year term commencing January 1, 2017. Currently a professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs, Professor Robinson is cross-appointed to the School of the Environment.

In this newly created role, Professor Robinson will chair the University-wide Committee on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability, one of the key recommendations in Beyond Divestment: Taking Decisive Action on Climate Change: Administrative Response of the President’s Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil-Fuels (March 2016).

The mandate of the Committee, whose membership will be announced early in January 2017, is to identify ways to advance the University’s contribution to meeting the challenge of climate change, with a particular focus on research and innovation, teaching, and University operations. The Committee’s activities may include facilitating the sharing among divisions of best practices in operational sustainability and environment-related academic planning; highlighting opportunities to strengthen further the University’s support for faculty and divisional initiatives in relevant fields; organizing University-wide events to promote environment-related research, teaching, and outreach; and raising the profile of the University’s contributions both within and outside our academic community.

Professor Robinson’s research focuses on the intersection of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability; the use of visualization, modeling, and citizen engagement to explore sustainable futures; sustainable buildings and urban design; creating partnerships for sustainability with non-academic partners; and, generally, the intersection of sustainability, social, and technological change, behaviour change, and community engagement processes.

From 2001–2013, Professor Robinson was Director of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at UBC. From 2012–2015, he served as UBC’s Associate Provost, Sustainability, which allowed him to extend the CIRS’ ‘living lab’ concept to the entire UBC Vancouver campus. It also permitted him to apply much of the theoretical and applied learning from his career to the question of how to create transformative institutional change at the urban neighbourhood scale in a university.

Professor Robinson has served on numerous national and international boards, and scientific committees, including the US NAS Board on Sustainable Development; the Canadian National Committees for SCOPE, IHDP, and IIASA; the Boards of the Canadian Global Change Program, the Canadian Climate Program, Westcoast Environmental Law, and the Canadian Environmental Law Association; the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Inter-American Academy of Global Change Research; the BC Climate Change Economic Impacts Panel; the BC Climate Action Team; the Scientific Steering committee of the Industrial Transformation program of IHDP, and the Program Committee of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. Currently, he sits on the Editorial Boards of Building Research and Information (BRI), Ecology and Society, and The Journal of Industrial Ecology. He also serves as Adjunct Professor at the Copenhagen Business School, and Honorary Professor at the Institute for Environment, Resources, and Sustainability, at the University of British Columbia.

In 2012, Professor Robinson received the Metro Vancouver Architecture Canada Architecture Advocacy Award and was named Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic magazine. In 2011, he received the Canada Green Building Council Education Leadership Award, and in 2010 he was awarded BC Hydro’s Larry Bell Award for advancing energy conservation in British Columbia. He was a Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation from 2008–2011 and, as a Lead Author, he contributed to the 1995, 2001, and 2007 reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with Al Gore.

I am delighted that Professor Robinson has agreed to take on this new role within the University, and thank him in advance for his leadership of this important initiative.