June 5, 2023

Igniting collective action towards net zero. (SDG 13 & SDG 17)

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Colleges and institutes play a pivotal role in our race to net zero. We are a vital catalyst, including environmental awareness in training programs and fostering sustainable practices that contribute to a resilient future. Today, to mark United Nations World Environment Day and the beginning of Canadian Environmental Week, we reaffirm our commitment to this role and share two exciting updates on a project that’s inspiring action against climate change: ImpAct-Climate.  

Living Lab Demonstrations 

Our ImpAct-Climate project raises awareness about greenhouse gases and encourages behaviour change to reduce emissions in the college and institute sector. As part of the project, we’ve been working with colleges and institutes on 20 Living Labs projects to demonstrate how we can maximize the impact of Canada’s largest post-secondary network. For example:  

  • At Norquest College, the Green Café team uses rescued or leftover food ingredients to deliver delicious, chef-prepared meals to students free of charge while raising awareness about sustainable consumption and production patterns and helping boost food security. (SDGs 2, 3 & 12)  
  • At Cégep John Abbott College, the team is creating a First People’s Garden and Micro-forest on campus to improve knowledge and practices about their environment and increase awareness of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and care for our planet (SDGs 11 & 15). 
  • At Cambrian College, the Climate Action Lab team uses their year-round, four-season Indigenous learning space to teach individuals about sustainability and many other topics through an Indigenous lens of ways of knowing, being, and doing. (SDGs 4, 10, 11 & 16)  
  • At Collège La Cité, the team will use an AI platform (e.g., OSCAR) to identify waste and inform users on how to properly dispose of the items to reduce waste on campus (SDGs 9 & 12).  

Funding for a new Campus Living Labs Demonstration project will be launched in February 2024. 

Impact-Climate Challenge 

Another key initiative within this project is the Impact-Climate Challenge. The challenge inspires change and ignites collective action across campuses by inviting students, faculty and staff to share actions and ideas, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a greener future.   

We just wrapped up the submission phase of the challenge and are thrilled to share that we received a total of 71 submissions. Curious to know what we received? Here’s a glimpse into two of the many ideas: 

  • One submission shared a solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by using public transit, shopping mostly at thrift stores for clothing, and eating a vegetarian diet.  
  • Another submission suggested various actions for reducing waste on campus, such as replacing old bulbs with LED lights in buildings, utilizing native plants for landscapes to reduce maintenance and fuel consumption, and promoting reusable cups and bottles to minimize waste and emissions.  

By amplifying success stories and generating new ideas, our goal is to foster an even greater culture of sustainability within the sector. Stay tuned as we prepare to share even more challenge submissions and reveal the winners on June 20th.  There will also be a new ImpAct-Climate Challenge launching in 2023-2024. 

Join us in taking action.   

Whether or not you had the opportunity to participate in the living labs project or the ImpAct-Climate Challenge, it’s crucial to recognize that SDG 13 calls upon all of us to take urgent action in combating climate change and its far-reaching impacts. Join us in this global challenge and get inspired by the incredible work taking place across Canada’s colleges and institutes.    

Together, we can make a significant difference!