Climate change is having massive impacts on our planet. From hurricanes and wildfires to floods and ice storms, disaster events are becoming common as our planet changes. The systems and infrastructure that supports our modern lives are depleted or disappear in a natural disaster. Resilience to natural disasters has become a necessity.
With a country as large and geographically diverse as Canada, the challenges of coping with emergencies depend on the location and type of situation. From small scale preparation in individual dwellings, to community planning to support large cities, Canadians need to be ready for extreme events and the repercussions they bring.
How can we help Canadian communities be more resilient in a natural disaster?
As Canadians, we value nature and the environment, yet our annual household energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission is among the highest in the world. With climate change a serious threat, reducing our energy use as a country is crucial for long term health, safety and security.
This is not about turning off the lights - it is about recognizing the enormous amounts of energy used to make things, move things, and build, operate and maintain the places we work, live and play. New innovations (or the revival and improvement of old technologies) can change the ways we consume energy, and have a substantial impact when a critical mass of people engage.
How can Canadians meaningfully reduce our individual energy footprints, to achieve a significant collective impact?
Canada is on the cusp of the 150th anniversary of Confederation – an occasion for reflection and celebration.
Despite our advanced and developed economy, food security is a serious concern. In 1867, almost every Canadian grew their own food; currently that number is 3%. Today, systems of food production, processing, distribution, and waste are complex and intertwined with influences such as climate change, energy prices, population density, locality, and socio-economic status.
The challenge of food security includes health and safety in the entire food supply chain, from farm to table, as well as ensuring abundant nutritious food is available for all.
How might we improve food security for Canadians?
Between the increasing pull of screen time, highly structured activities, and concern for perceived risks outside the home, we have become an increasingly interior, sedentary society. What might we create to encourage Canadians to play outside and reconnect with the physical world around them, and each other, to improve well-being?
Abundant resources and the consumer culture of the past century have left a legacy of aging infrastructure and an expectation of what the good life looks like: a two-car garage attached to a three-bedroom house on a four-hectare lot. Current movements toward a more sustainable future are at odds with this increasingly unrealistic expectation. What innovations will satisfy a crowded world’s expectation of the good life, while meeting the challenge of a new reality? In short: How might Canadians live large with a small footprint?
Safety and efficiency are important considerations when encouraging people to commute using only human power. Potential accidents, inefficiencies, and inconvenience discourage many people from choosing more sustainable modes of transport.
2013’s national theme Improving the safety and efficiency of year-round, human powered transportation in Canada focused SHAD's bright young minds on this important issue.