Canadian researcher among one of 25 Green Talents 2016 awarded in Germany

Oct 27, 2016

Leading young scientists from 16 countries, including Canada, met Germany’s sustainability research elite from October 17 to 26, 2016 and visited green sciences’ hotspots.

Green Talents award ceremony on Oct 27, 2016 Enlarge image (© BMBF) The Green Talents Award held under the patronage of the German Research Minister Prof Johanna Wanka awarded young talented researchers for the eighth time and provided a platform to share their innovative and creative ideas, aiming to answer pressing sustainability and environmental protection questions of our time. A high-ranking jury of experts selected 25 up-and-coming scientists out of more than 755 applications from over 104 countries, including York University Researcher Darnel Harris (bio below). Part of the award is a treasured invitation to the “Green Talents – International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development” where the awardees were travelling about two weeks through Germany, meeting the sustainability research elite and visiting hotspots of green science.

This year’s “Green Talents” had the chance to interact with leading experts and some of the most renowned research institutions and companies, including Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Hamburg University of Technology, Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Siemens AG and the Southern African Service Center for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management.

The 25 awardees were honoured during a festive award ceremony at the Green Talents Alumni Meeting 2016 attended by representatives of (former) participating institutions, their experts, jury members, politicians and other distinguished members. Minister Prof Johanna Wanka officially opened the meeting; Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, held a keynote about “Effects on climate and vulnerability.” With its highly diversified program the conference offered all participants again countless networking possibilities. During the conference Green Talents could get connected to the science community and exchange ideas with key innovators, laying the foundations for future cooperation. Such efforts are supported by the invitation to return to Germany for a fully funded research stay at an institution of their choice in the year after the award.


Research focus: policies, procedures and designs to ensure that green infrastructure installations support goals of social equity and equal opportunity

Darnel Harris Enlarge image York University researcher Darnel Harris (© BMBF) Universally, sustainable development aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. The concept, ‘just sustainabilities’ involves the full integration of social justice and sustainability. Harris’ research embraced this concept, focusing on planning, education and design for just sustainabilities. He studied the processes, designs and policies that are capable of generating social change through popular education, capacity building and sustainable urban design in diverse communities.

Harris studied inclusive public engagement as a way of building community identity. He focused his work on the potential for bike usage to become widely used and socially acceptable in the suburban Black Creek area. His project involved a comparative analysis of six global cities, which had undertaken extensive and equitable low carbon mobility projects. He then conducted three community-led popular education sessions to allow them to shape their vision of a future with bikes and cargo bikes. The results indicated that residents wanted to use bikes year-round, but without safe, separated pathways along arterial roads, that was not a realistic option. His current research focus explores the challenges of execution, involving topics such as the various development processes used to meet green infrastructure targets and the usage of community insight to guarantee that the green infrastructure meets people’s mobility needs.

Harris has received several awards for his work, including the Tom Arnold Scholarship and distinction in the TD Go Green Challenge. He has worked as a research assistant at Allan Bonner Communications Management Inc. and as a junior fellow at the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University. He is eager to collaborate with communities in order to plan and implement projects that integrate green infrastructure and also enable equity and equal opportunity.

The jury praised his efforts to find the links between urban living, sustainability and transport methods. Harris wishes to use this award to mentor others involved in Green Talents in developing innovative and sustainable ideas.


Green Talents 2016

Green Talents