Balancing society and ecology in the face
climate change
Linking different forms of knowledge
Fanny Noisette
Climate change, with its biophysical, social, economic and political impacts, is no longer to be considered only as a technical problem. It is also an issue requiring adaptive and creative responses and strategies that involve consideration of different forms of knowledge and the cultural dimension of societies. This becomes even more evident in ecosystems and coastal communities affected by numerous local and global disturbances.
UNESCO Chair in Integrated Analysis of Marine Systems

Transforming climate action

The Earth is teetering toward climate crisis. The ocean, more than anything, is helping to keep the balance. But emerging science shows the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon and regulate temperatures is changing in ways we don’t understand. It is a change that is not accounted for in global climate targets. It’s a risk we can no longer afford to take. The time has come to transform climate action.

Fanny Noisette

Professor Fanny Noisette is a specialist in the ecology of coastal systems and climate change. Holder of the UNESCO Chair in Integrated Analysis of Marine Systems, she works with her team on the understanding and management of coastal marine ecosystems in a context of global ocean changes.

She and her team are developing a collaborative research approach that brings together researchers from the natural sciences and engineering sectors, as well as the social and human sciences. Their research focuses on coastal ecosystems through the lens of socio-ecological systems – integrated systems that couple the needs of societies and nature. Their work aims to redefine ecosystems by considering all the actors, including humans, as active components of the system.

In her words

“The transformation of the oceans in the face of climate change and the impacts on coastal communities are complex, multi-scale and sometimes elusive. This complexity can be a barrier to awareness of the seriousness of a situation, to acting and committing to profound changes in practices.

By adopting a dual approach to the integrated analysis of coastal marine systems – i.e., from the individual to the ecosystem and interdisciplinary – the work carried out by my team within the UNESCO Chair, aims to advance reflection on the management and conservation of coastal systems in the face of local and global changes to the ocean. The integration of different forms of knowledge not only improves the monitoring, holistic understanding, and predictions of coastal ecosystems, but also the social acceptability of research projects and the involvement of the population in the development of solutions.”

Fanny Noisette

Co-designing science in the coastal zone

Coastal areas face a variety of complex challenges, with uncertain and mostly negative consequences for Indigenous and non-indigenous coastal communities. Seagrass beds and kelp forests that support highly productive ecosystems and provide essential services to communities, such as carbon sequestration, are exposed to multiple stressors that are increasing with the intensification of the climate crisis.

Reliable predictions for the future of these productive ecosystems require the implementation of long-term monitoring and the development of predictive models, including different variables associated with socio-ecological systems.

The inclusion of different forms of knowledge and the perspectives of different actors in ecosystem monitoring is essential to co-design monitoring strategies capable of effectively tracking physical, biogeochemical and ecological changes. This co-construction is also a powerful means of bridging the gap between the different end users, rights holders and stakeholders who interact within these socio-ecological systems.

"By aligning with the themes of climate change and the understanding of aquatic life, which is identified as a sustainable development objective by the United Nations, interdisciplinary and partnership research developed within Transforming Climate Action will aim to promote reflection and the establishment of management measures and policies, as well as the strengthening of the capacities of coastal communities in the field of science, technology and social innovation,” says Dr. Noisette.

An ocean-first approach

Transforming Climate Action will bring together more than 170 researchers at Dalhousie and its academic partners to embark on the most intensive investigation into the ocean’s role in climate change ever undertaken. It will make Canada a global leader in climate science, innovation, and solutions by putting the ocean front and centre in the fight against a warming planet.

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