Exacerbated by climate change, the increasing frequency and scale of wildfires have devastated communities and ecosystems around the world, while releasing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. California, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Australia, and even the Arctic have experienced record-breaking wildfires in recent years. Five of California’s six largest wildfires in modern history burned in 2020 alone.
Over the past decade, suppression costs and economic disruptions have risen: three recent fires in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan resulted in economic costs exceeding CAD $1 billion each (around USD $759 million), and the total economic costs from the 2016 Fort McMurray fire in Alberta alone are estimated at CAD $6.89 billion (around USD $5.23 billion).
In the face of these accelerating challenges, calls for climate-smart management of natural lands have grown louder among policymakers, experts, and stakeholders. Government and civil society programs have begun investing in forest resilience and nature-based solutions to deliver on mitigation and adaptation goals, working with Indigenous partners whose knowledge and experience are vital.
Recognizing the need to bring together interdisciplinary, international coalitions to advance wildfire prevention, mitigation, and response, Prime Minister Trudeau and Governor Newsom committed their respective governments to hosting a roundtable on wildfire and forest resilience within their broader Climate Action and Nature Protection Partnership which they announced in June. By bringing together officials, academics, industry and civil society at UN Climate Week, this event delivers on that vision. By convening thought leaders to discuss our collective challenges, Canada and California hope to discuss collective challenges chart next steps.
Participants are invited to submit questions for the panelists in advance by emailing CaliCan.Wildfire.RT22@calepa.ca.gov