Geography Prof to Receive Order of Ontario

February 04, 2013 - News Release

University of Guelph geography professor Barry Smit has been named to the Order of Ontario, considered the province’s most prestigious honour.

Smit is among 25 distinguished Ontarians who will receive the award during a ceremony at Queen’s Park Wednesday.

“It's a bit humbling -- we all do our jobs. But it certainly is delightful to be recognized in this way,” Smit said.

“I hope that all my colleagues and graduate students over the years see this as recognition for them also. I have been blessed with wonderful people to work with and such a supportive environment in my department.”

Barry Smit

The Order of Ontario recognizes people who have enriched the lives of others by attaining the highest standards of excellence and achievement in their field. Others being honoured Wednesday include film director Deepa Mehta, Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon, tenor Michael Burgess and amateur golfer Marlene Streit.

“Looking at the other recipients, whom I will meet, I’m not sure if I should seek out advice on singing from Michael Burgess or advice on golf from Marlene Streit. I need help in both areas,” Smit said.

Smit’s citation calls him “one of the world’s leading authorities on climate change impacts and human adaptation.”

Maureen Mancuso, provost and vice-president (academic), said: “It’s an honour for Barry personally and for the entire University to have one of our faculty members recognized with this award. We’re delighted that he has received this prestigious acknowledgment of his career achievements.”

Smit was among the first researchers to analyze the effects of climate change on economies and societies. He has examined societal vulnerability and adaptation to climate change across Canada and in developed and developing countries, ranging from Vietnam to Vanuatu and from Chile to China.

“I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people in countries and communities around the world,” he said. “Like many others, I would prefer to see more progress on dealing with the climate change issue in a reasoned way, especially in Canada. Yet I am encouraged by the increasing recognition of the reality of climate change, and I believe that gradually we will adopt more sustainable ways of living. I’m looking forward to see what the younger generations do.”

As Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change, Smit studies social and economic implications of climate change and how to manage associated risks and opportunities. He is recognized for his practical engagement with stakeholders from international institutions to local communities and villages. He has advised governments and organizations across Canada and around the world.

Smit served on a provincial expert panel on climate change adaptation and co-authored the report “Adapting to Climate Change in Ontario” for the provincial environment ministry. A member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 1998, he was lead author of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report issued in 2007. The IPCC team, including Smit, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with environmental activist and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

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