Plenary: Critical Ecosystems vs Critical Minerals?

Organized by: UBC Centre for Climate Justice & Interdisciplinary Biodiversity Solutions Collaboratory 

Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2024, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm PDT (1.5 hours)


As we face compounding ecological, economic, and social crises, important tensions have emerged in how to tackle the urgency of solutions affecting climate, biodiversity and Indigenous sovereignty within the context of climate justice. Often, as researchers and movement leaders, we are focused on one part of the problem, which can exacerbate near and far-reaching impacts to people and planet. This panel will explore those tensions as they are arising in relation to critical minerals extraction, an industry that is both essential to many high-profile ‘climate solutions’ such as electric vehicles and solarization, and also disruptive to local biodiversity and lifeways on a potentially large scale. Critical minerals development is accelerating rapidly in many countries around the world. However, in many places this process is accelerating at a rate that does not allow for a meaningful conversation on the risks, negative impacts, and potential benefits to communities and biodiversity. We will hear from leading researchers and movement leaders on the tensions that are emerging between climate and biodiversity in critical minerals mining, and under what conditions critical minerals can be produced in ways that safeguard biodiversity and the rights of communities while meeting the needs for essential climate solutions.


Justina Ray

President & Senior Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada

Dr. Justina Ray has been President and Senior Scientist of WCS Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of WCS Canada, Justina is involved in research and policy activities associated with conservation-based planning, impact assessment and biodiversity conservation, with a particular focus on wildlife in northern boreal landscapes. Having worked for years in African and Asian tropical forests, North America has been her predominant geographic focus over the past two decades.

Justina has been appointed to numerous government advisory panels related to policy development for species at risk and land use planning in Ontario and Canada. She served as the co-chair of the Terrestrial Mammals Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) from 2009-2017 and a member of the IUCN Taskforce on Biodiversity and Protected Areas in its work to develop the global Key Biodiversity Area Standard (2012-2016). She has been editor or author of 3 books and numerous peer-reviewed articles. She also serves on the scientific advisory boards of the Liber Ero Post-doctoral Fellowship program and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (Germany). She is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Department of Ecology and Evolution; Graduate Department of Forestry) and Trent University (Environmental & Life Sciences Graduate Program).

Cristina Dorador

Associate Professor, Faculty of Marine Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Antofagasta, Chile

Dr. Cristina Dorador Ortiz is a Chilean scientist, doctor, and former assembly member of the Chilean Constitutional Convention who conducts research in microbiology, microbial ecology, limnology and geomicrobiology. She is also an Associate Professor in the department of biotechnology of the Faculty of Marine Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Antofagasta.

She coordinates in Chile of the Extreme Environment Network for the study of ecosystems in the geographical extremes of Chile and has developed biotechnological tools to value the unique properties of some highland microbial communities such as resistance to ultraviolet radiation for elaborate cosmetic creams, joining the field of cosmetic biotechnology. She has also led the development of textile material using the photoprotective properties of highland bacteria.

She was a member of the transition council of the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research in 2019 that gave rise to the National Agency for Research and Development of Chile, and has been recognized nationally and internationally as one of the most relevant researchers in Chile.

From July 2021 to July 2022, she served as a conventional constituent for District 3, which represents the Antofagasta Region.

Bill McKibben

Founder, Third Act

Bill McKibben is a founder of Third Act, which organizes people over the age of 60 to work on climate, democracy, and racial justice. He founded the first global grassroots climate campaign,, and serves as the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. In 2014 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ in the Swedish Parliament. He’s also won the Gandhi Peace Award, and honorary degrees from 19 colleges and universities. He has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published in 1989. His most recently released book is The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened.


Naomi Klein

Professor of Climate Justice and Co-director of the Centre for Climate Justice, University of British Columbia

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. She is a columnist with The Guardian. In 2018 she was named the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair at Rutgers University and is now Honorary Professor of Media and Climate at Rutgers. In September 2021 she joined the University of British Columbia as UBC Professor of Climate Justice (tenured) and co-director of the Centre for Climate Justice.