Current Projects

ESRG engages in transdisciplinary research aimed at improving human-environment interactions. Focused on the human dimensions of environmental resource issues, our research projects link factors influencing the sustainability of land and natural resource use in complex settings, for example, human perceptions of ecosystems, environmental change, social organization and power relations, and local-global economic forces. ESRG projects are collaboratively designed with partners from various sectors to address specific environmental problems.

New opportunities for involvement are emerging all the time and we welcome expressions of interest from individuals and groups interested in working with ESRG. Please visit this page often or contact us for updates.

Climate Learning and Adaptation for Northern Development (C-LAND): 2018-2023

ESRG Members Involved: Ryan Bullock, Alan Diduck, Melanie Zurba, Jonathan Luedee, and Julia Antonyshyn

Funded bySocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Climate change is transforming northern environments at an alarming rate (IPCC 2014). Rising global demand for Canada’s resources is creating unparalleled economic opportunities but also demands (Crowley and Coates 2013). Due to environmental and economic change, northern communities are undergoing fundamental socio-economic and cultural transformations (Bullock et al. 2016). Governments and industries managing renewable resources are increasingly pressed to address long-term plans for adaptation to large-scale disturbances, while continuing to meet short-term business and governance needs

Recognizing the climate change uncertainties facing the Canadian natural resources sector today, this research will examine how to improve adaptive capacity in Canada’s renewable resource sectors, with a focus on forestry and hydroelectricity. Our objectives are to:

  1. Assess awareness and multi-scale learning (i.e., cognitive, normative, behavioural, relational and organizational changes) about climate change adaptation;
  2. Gain insights into how learning occurs (i.e., learning process conditions and how learning outcomes influence adaptations and inform policy) in innovative organizational models; and;
  3. Explain how learning can support adaptive capacity in complex governance settings.

The findings of this research will offer insights and decision-making tools applicable to resource sectors and communities across Canada as well as internationally. Building this knowledge base will act on Canada’s commitments from the United Nations Climate Conference (COP21) as well as federal objectives for achieving A Clean Growth Economy, namely to advance renewables and new climate adaptation strategies through innovation for increased “resilience in the North and Indigenous communities” (Government of Canada 2016).

Langside Learning Garden: 2018-2023

ESRG Members Involved: Alan Diduck

Partners: Spence Neighbourhood Association

The Langside Learning Garden is a five-year project with Winnipeg’s Spence Neighbourhood Association to develop a “pocket park” on the site of 373 Langside Street. Plans will be developed through community engagement and will combine opportunities for experiential learning and community development focused on plants, soils, urban biodiversity and social inclusion. The University of Winnipeg has committed to ongoing research support and resources from its facilities.

Judicial environmentalism and the poor: Examining the impacts of green benches of state high courts and National Green Tribunals in India: 2017-2020

ESRG Members Involved: Alan Diduck

Funded by: SSHRC Insight Development Grant (Kirit Patel, PI), and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Advanced Scholars Program

PartnersGujarat National Law University, the Foundation for Ecological Security, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development

Since the introduction of public interest litigation (PIL) by India’s Supreme Court in 1982, the interest of individuals and organizations involved in environmental protection has received considerable support from Green Benches of state-level high courts. As a continuation of this support, the Indian judiciary entered a new era of environmental jurisprudence with the official establishment in 2010 of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The enactment of the NGT has come at a time of accelerated economic growth in India marked by an average GDP increase per year of 7% between 1995 and 2014 (IMF 2015). This economic surge has had diverse social and economic benefits, but it has also resulted in adverse environmental impacts and an uneven distribution of benefits. Approximately one third of India’s population continues to live in poverty and to experience food and nutrition insecurity. In this context, the establishment of specialized environmental tribunals and benches offers much potential for mitigating the complexities of environment versus development tensions in India.

The core objectives of this project are to:

  1. Assess the impacts of high court and Green Tribunal rulings on environmental protection and social development;
  2. Explain the significance of institutional and legal innovations that have been established by different high court benches for bringing reforms to environmental protection in India; and,
  3. Provide a foundation for improved exchange and learning between Canada and India with respect to these institutional and legal innovations.

Community Pastures: 2018

ESRG Members Involved: Ryan Bullock, Melanie Zurba, Miranda Hamilton, and Julia Antonyshyn

Originating in the 1930s, Canada’s Community Pasture Program was a federal response to ecological, economic, and social crisis produced by drought and financial depression impacting the Prairie Provinces. The program, intended to support struggling agricultural producers, grew to include hundreds of thousands of hectares of government owned land involving all levels of government and numerous land users. In 2012, the federal government decided to transfer control of community pastures back to the Saskatchewan and Manitoba governments. As power over the pastures has been decentralized in recent years, there is an opportunity for new and unique community pastures research. There is a need to study what impact this transition in governance might have on the formal and informal rules governing community pastures, and how any changes may affect farmers, the primary users of the land.

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. Document and compare institutional characteristics and differences between and among community pasture organizations located in the Prairie Provinces;
  2. Assess user perspectives on how access and rights to land use are structured through community pasture institutional arrangements;
  3. Examine the implications of governance transitions for land users and land management.

Connecting Indigenous Wellbeing and Northern Environments: 2018

ESRG Members Involved: Melanie Zurba and Ryan Bullock

Funded by: UW Experiential Learning Fund

Academic Partners: University of Winnipeg (Drs. Jamie Cidro and Shailesh Shukla), Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Drs. Ulla Timlin, Lea Rättyä, Marja Katisko, Tiina Ervelius), University of Oulu (Drs. Veli-Pekka Lehtola, and Arja Rautio), University of Manitoba (Dr. Roberta Woodgate)

Community Partners: Four Arrows Regional Health Authority, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Sámi Education Institute

Our outreach project addresses the “environmental dispossession” suffered by Indigenous peoples in the global north as a result of colonization and environmental degradation and supports Indigenous peoples’ desire and responsibility to preserve the natural environment and to support their own wellbeing.

This outreach initiative will engage Indigenous community leaders, academics, policy makers, government officials, service providers, educators, and students in sharing knowledge and developing projects and tools for supporting the Indigenous governance, wellbeing and northern environments.

The core objectives of the outreach activity are to:

  1. Develop curriculum and teaching tools for educational institutions.
  2. Produce research project ideas and identify granting opportunities.
  3. Engage Indigenous youth in exploring and sharing their views and experiences.
  4. Enhance and define connections within an emerging research network.

The outreach activity will include a series of integrated events held between September 17th and 21st, 2018 at Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in northwestern Ontario (Treaty #3 territory) and at The University of Winnipeg (UW) in Manitoba (Treaty #1 territory). International partners from Finland, including scholars of northern wellbeing and Indigenous/Sámi community leaders, including youth, will travel to take part in the 5-day event, culminating in a symposium, to which additional Indigenous organizations and community leaders, policy-makers, government representatives from Manitoba and Ontario will be invited.

Indigenous Bioenergy Partnerships in Canada: 2017-2018

ESRG Members Involved: Ryan Bullock and Melanie Zurba

Funded by: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and BioFuelNet

Partners: John Parkins (University of Alberta), Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

The rapidly expanding forest bioenergy sector in Canada promises to support low carbon energy options that also support economic development and Indigenous involvement. However, there is little empirical research conducted on Indigenous participation in forest bioenergy in Canada, which points to the need for a nuanced and reliable knowledge base to foster innovation in bioenergy that will contribute to community and economic development. This video highlights the work being done on Indigenous bioenergy partnerships in Canada by Dr. Ryan Bullock, Dr. Melanie Zurba and their team at The University of Winnipeg in partnership with the University of Alberta and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

Climate Impact Assessment and Monitoring in Northern Canada: Assessing Opportunities for CAF-Indigenous Collaboration: 2017-2018

ESRG Members Involved: Ryan Bullock

Funded by: Canadian Department of National Defense

Climate change is having a disproportionate impact on Canada’s boreal and Arctic ecosystems, as melting ice and permafrost, rising seas and changing weather conditions exhibit impacts on northern infrastructure and resource dependent livelihoods. Food security and water quality concerns and damage to infrastructure, especially in permafrost regions, are key impacts of concern in northern regions requiring of adaptation solutions. IPCC scientific evidence indicates a growing need for climate adaptation approaches to address risks to freshwater ecosystems, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the economic sectors and populations that depend on these threatened natural resources. A changing physical environment is creating additional risks to northern community health and wellbeing, such as potential risks of injury and illness due to disease vector changes, melting ice, extreme weather, and rising seas. Local knowledge of environmental and social change will remain crucial to monitoring and navigating northern environs.

This research program aims to explore new models for cross-cultural collaboration and their linkages to adaptive capacity, innovation and learning in governance. New understanding is required to effectively navigate rapidly occurring and inter-connected processes of environmental and social change, particularly in Canada’s northern regions.  The project will assess current opportunities for advancing adaptive governance systems involving Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), First Nations, Metis, and Inuit as an integral component of developing strategic plans for territorial defense, environmental security, and monitoring of northern Canada.