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Interview with Jean Lemire, Emissary for Climate Change and Northern Issues in Quebec

Interview with Jean Lemire, Emissary for Climate Change and Northern Issues in Quebec

The Meeting of the Great Rivers of the World in Rome, which saw representatives of the world's largest watercourses face their water management policies, the Centro Studi Italia-Canada, present at the summit, interviewed Jean Lemire, the Emissary for Climate Change and Northern Issues in Quebec, in charge of representing the Saint Lawrence River.

Jean Lemire, biologist and director, wanted to combine knowledge and passion in a career between scientific research and communication. His research work has always had a very operational approach, boasting of an Arctic mission, an Antarctic mission, and a three-year world tour to discuss the state of global biodiversity. Québec has entrusted an important task to a professional, highly experienced in climate change and biodiversity.


The creation of the Emissary role for Climate Change and Northern Issues was announced last spring as a novelty by the Quebec government.

What objectives have you set up to face the global challenge of resilience to climate change? And how do these objectives accomplish the Canadian Climate diplomacy strategy in light of the signing of the Paris Agreement of 2015?

This is a time of transition and transformation of the world economy that requires great attention to climate change. We have invested more in renewable energy and in the years Quebec has become an example in managing climate changes. Québec has played a central role at the Paris Conference, sending a strong signal to the rest of the world, for example with financial participation in the international cooperation program: Quebec was the first to implement a program to help developing countries, an initiative that was followed by Belgium, whose decision has made our leading role even more important.


The scientific research on the climate struggles to find space in international diplomacy. How can help a wider international cooperation policy, also between private individuals, activated through international summits such as Water and Climate?

I have a scientific background, and one of my priorities is to make science a tool of political life. It is a priority for Quebec, because even the Prime Minister has a scientific background and with him I had important conversations on the subject.

Our aim is to spread the scientific approach, studies and research to the public, because in order to implement a change, we need public participation.

One of my most important tasks is to make people understand that at the base of energy evolution - there are scientific studies, and, therefore, is the science that has carried out, during the time, the necessary research.  Without science, there will be no transition period or even big meetings to deal with the subject. These conferences convey the idea that we are acting concretely: in 2050 we will need 65% more of food production to feed the world's population and we will need water to make it happen. That's why international dialogue and cooperation is needed, and the organization of great conferences to encourage this process.


Italy has been the promoter of this event, and on this occasion, the Ministry of the Environment has introduced the new brand "AquaMadre", the reference for all water related initiatives with particular attention to rivers. How did you welcome this initiative?

When we discuss water resources and climate change, we must first start from a cultural factor, the encounter between cultures. The great rivers unite and cross areas where people interested in water resources live. Therefore, cooperation between countries will become increasingly important, so that water can be a resource for reunification and no longer a cause of conflict, as has often happened in history. I therefore welcomed with enthusiasm that Rome has launched such an important initiative and Italy's general approach to the issue.

This is a vital topic for the world population during this transition period and the first objective is, as I said, to involve the public.


The Maritime Strategy and the North Plan are intended to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of Quebec and Saint Lawrence River. How can you explain this?

The Québec government has created a new way of sustainable development with these two initiatives that have my full support. The North Plan is a plan that has been appreciated by the international scene because it is based on an inclusive economic development of communities living in this great territory. Let's think about the protection of the territories: 50% of them must be protected and the conservation values must be integrated with the values of economic development as the basis for sustainable development. As far as the Maritime Strategy is concerned, we need to follow the best way to manage the increase in maritime traffic. It is therefore necessary to adopt a strategy aimed, aimed at the protection of the territory and the creation of protected marine areas, sectors that allow better maritime traffic.