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RSD12-Vancouver: Designing Climate Justice


complex challenges of climate change, equity, and reconci­liation with indigenous peoples

Co-hosted by Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the City of Vancouver | October 11 & 12, 2023 (tentative)

Unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples, also known as Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Implementing Vancouver’s new Climate Justice Charter requires new processes that centre collaboration, sharing power, and nurturing relationships. These draw from the fields of systemic design, social innovation, and equity-centred and decolonising methods. They serve as alternatives to standard policy-making, program delivery, and the public engagement processes typically used in local governments. Therefore, we are co-creating an experimental and experiential learning journey, which we embark on as researchers, students, civil servants, and community members working on designing just climate futures.

Call for Contributions | Deadline for abstracts May 31 | Complete submissions due June 15 | Registration coming soon

RSD12-Vancouver Context + Purpose

Cities are facing increasing pressures to address complex challenges of climate change, equity, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples as intersecting issues. Working on these challenges discreetly or solely within the dominant western colonial paradigm and governance practices is no longer enough. Ongoing harms are caused by climate work that does not embed justice, and there are missed opportunities for synergies across these domains as they have the same systemic root causes. Cities must adapt and transform the processes and practices they use to work alongside community partners to work at these problematic roots.

Skilful use of new and resurgent processes that centre collaboration, sharing power, and nurturing relationships with and amongst communities most impacted by a changing climate is needed to meet the calls to action and accountability for equity, justice, and reconciliation outlined in the first ever Climate Justice Charter for the City of Vancouver.

Systemic design theories, principles, and practices have much to offer—and Emily Carr University, and Vancouver, more generally, represent a hub where a unique and impactful relational systemic design practice is unfolding and contributing to climate justice work. RSD12-Vancouver aims to generate greater curiosity, visibility, and affinity with systemic design amongst communities, institutions, and networks. RSD12-Vancouver is dedicated to supporting collective efforts to experiment with implementing climate justice in and surrounding Vancouver; however, the explorations also contribute research and practice in equity-centred design and decolonising design and the connections between systemic design and sustainability transitions.

FOCUS: Climate Justice

The RSD12 call for contributions is now open and accepting submissions for papers, online workshops, and exhibits related to “climate justice.”

The vision for climate justice in Vancouver is “A city of interconnected communities collectively advancing climate action, Indigenous sovereignty, intersectionality, equity, and social justice toward a shared future of healing and hope” (City of Vancouver, 2022). The Climate Justice Charter is grounded in five principles:

  1. nə́ c̓aʔmat tə šxʷqʷeləwən ct (we are of one heart and mind)
  2. Indigenous sovereignty
  3. thinking beyond borders
  4. redistribution
  5. fluidity

Guided by the Climate Justice Charter, which community leaders wrote for the City of Vancouver to provide guidance on how to embed justice into climate-related work, our hub will include workshops, panels and interactive sessions over two days. The content will be oriented around the ten forms of justice that constellate climate justice.

  1. disability
  2. distributive
  3. gender, sexual, and reproductive
  4. health
  5. Indigenous sovereignty
  6. migrant
  7. multi-species
  8. procedural
  9. restorative
  10. racial

RSD Examples

Carey, H., Costes, C. & Bansal, M. (2021) Gleaning Racial Justice Futures: Confronting the past and incorporating plural everydays. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Cole, L. (2021). Moving Toward Paradigms and Patterns of Transformative Innovation in Public Sector Labs. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Davidová, M., Sharma, S. & McMeel, D. & Loizides, F. (2021) CO-DE|GT BETA: The 21st-century economy app for cross-species co-living. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD10) Symposium.

Singh, S. & Calahoo-Stonehouse, J. (2022). Gamifying the Concept of Wâhkôhtowin to Rebuild Relations. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD11) Symposium.

Vojno, N. (2022). Braiding Knowledge Systems as Environmental Peacebuilding: A four-dimensional analysis for co-applying Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD11) Symposium.


The RSD12-Vancouver planning team:


The symposium programme centres on local content addressing climate justice in Vancouver and beyond and will include the following activities. The two-day programme will run 10:00–19:00 UTC-7.

  • Papers, online workshops, and exhibits related to the “climate justice” focus are part of the asynchronous RSD12-Vancouver programme. We will host a dedicated RSD12-online streaming space for students and faculty.
  • The RSD12-Vancouver keynote speaker will be live-streamed as part of the RSD12-online programme.
  • Interactives and workshops reflecting the experiences of the different (in)justices will be created and guided by designers, artists, and community members with direct, lived experiences with these (in)justices. Participants will engage in sensory and speculative experiences, with a shared orientation toward developing relational practices for designing climate justice.
  • On campus, an exhibition of RSD12 systems maps and exhibits with a “climate justice” focus will be held. A “designing climate justice” call for maps and exhibits will also go out to students.
  • The organising team will host a Climate Justice Panel and invite content co-creators from Emily Carr and the City of Vancouver communities, including participants in the experiences.

During the RSD12 symposium (October 18—20), we will share our learning and experiences and how this (re)shaped our thinking about climate just presents and futures and how this might inform climate justice work in our community. The organising group also intends to write a paper based on the experience.

Save the date

RSD12-Vancouver save the date October 11 to 12, 2023


The budget and participant fee schedule are in development.

About the Co-Designers and Participants

Students and faculty at Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Staff from the City of Vancouver

Staff from the Metro Vancouver Zero Emissions Innovation Centre

Power-sharing Co-design Collective: A group of 15-25 individuals that include community leaders, artists, Indigenous knowledge and culture keepers, and City staff working at the intersections of climate, justice, equity and reconciliation, designers and researchers who are coming together to experiment around power-sharing when it comes to implementing climate justice.

The Place-Based Collective: An informal way for students and faculty to collaborate and share in learning and project-making around a series of place-based propositions. The Collective’s work has included hosting a series of roundtables, a social practice course, a Place-Based Field School, sharing circles, site visits, walks and making a series of publications. Emphasis is placed on processes that support relationships with community and place.

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The scholar’s spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholar's spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


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