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Eco Seneca symposium tackles resilience

Three-day event presented by TD Insurance

Deep Resilience

Professor Andrew Wickham (centre) provides direction to a group of his students from the Project Management – Environmental program during the Deep Resilience symposium at Newnham Campus. The students led group activities during the three-day event.


Resilience can mean many things. But at Newnham Campus this week, it means climate adaptation.

“A mess has been made and we are all looking to you to fix it,” said Huma Pabani, Manager, National Issues, Government & Industry Relations from TD Insurance.

Pabani was addressing students who took part in Deep Resilience: Our “Hotter, Wetter, Wilder” Challenge, a three-day symposium presented by TD Insurance from Oct. 23 to 25. The event is the seventh annual conference hosted by the Office of Eco Seneca, an academic initiative within the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering Technology to embed an environmental imperative within Seneca’s academic programs.

“Deep resilience has a huge relevance to us all,” President David Agnew said as he kicked off the symposium in the Great Hall. “There’s a broad consensus across Canada that this is an issue we should take seriously.”

Coincidentally, as Deep Resilience got underway at Seneca on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was across town in Etobicoke, unveiling his government’s carbon tax rebates to fight climate change.

From droughts and wildfires to floods, heat waves and severe storms, “the damage is done and resilience is about recognizing the damage and adapting and changing for the times,” said Bill Humber, Director of Eco Seneca. “It’s about how we can design, cope and strategize to maintain the prosperity and comfort that we’ve taken for granted so far.”

Deep Resilience

Deep Resilience took place in the Great Hall Oct. 23 to 25.

Deep Resilience examined the human impact on the climate for the current and future world. It featured six noted speakers, including Elliott Cappell, Chief Resilience Officer at the City of Toronto, Blair Feltmate, Head of Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at Waterloo University, and Andrew Bowerbank, National Vice-President of Sustainability and Energy at WSP in Canada.

The event also showcased two innovative solutions: Ripple Farms, the aquaponic food-growing project based on fish poop, and Lotus Water, a solar-powered mechanical system for collecting rainwater. Both projects have been developed in Seneca’s on-campus incubator, HELIX.

For participants like Kasra Sepehrdoust, a Project Management – Environmental student from Iran, the symposium served as an opportunity to look at modest, imaginative as well as bigger solutions and responses.

“We are going to be part of the society for a long time,” he said. “I gained a good perspective of Canada over the last three days and now we’ll all have a better thinking of how we can deal with the issues and try to improve Canada.”

Lotus Flower

Christian Navarro (right), CEO of Nautilus Innovation Lab, shows his Lotus Water system to Susan Sigrist, a community participant, and Javad Mehdizadeh, a student in the Environmental Technology program.