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Media release: Dalhousie‑led initiative awarded $1.9M in federal funding to help agriculture sector meet emission reduction targets

Posted by Communications and Marketing on April 4, 2024 in News

The Canadian government has pledged to cut agricultural emissions from fertilizer use and methane by 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030. It’s a goal that will need to be met by the 2.3 million people employed in Canada’s agri-food systems. 

To support the transition, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council announced a $1.9-million grant to fund the Dalhousie-hosted Common Ground Canada Network. The national consortium will employ social sciences and humanities research to understand barriers to shifting to less carbon-intensive agricultural systems and how to overcome them equitably. 

“We need to look at what the challenges are of moving towards net zero in food systems. What problems arise when you introduce new policies,” says Dr. Karen Foster, Dalhousie’s Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada, who leads the initiative. 

“The idea is to get researchers and people in the sector into conversations early so that we're identifying gaps and tensions, and working to resolve them through policy with end users in mind.”

Common Ground Canada Network is currently comprised of 28 partner organizations across the country, with plans to grow. It includes academic institutions, research teams, centres and institutes, civil society organizations and other community partners that have deep experience working with people in the agricultural sector. 

STEM-focused research teams developing technological solutions funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada will also be key network partners. Social science and humanities researchers will work with them to understand the social context and impacts of their advances, such as concerns farmers might have about the accelerating changes in their industry.

“There are people saying, ‘This is too much, this is not the farming I got into,’ and asking questions like, ‘What are the skills that I need in my workers?’" says Dr. Foster. “That's the kind of thing that a social science-informed case study approach can help think through, from the handy new tool to all of the knock-on effects.”

The role of culture will also be a key consideration, including how carbon-reduction policies reflect the needs and rights of equity deserving populations. In particular, the network will explore the intersection of Canada’s pursuit of net zero goals and its commitments to Truth and Reconciliation, using the tools of social science research to balance the ambitions. 


Media contact:

Andrew Riley
Senior manager, research and innovation communications
Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation


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