Welcome to Sustainability Opportunities Week 2013!

Welcome to Sustainability Opportunities Week 2013!

By: KC Bell
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Welcome to SFU’s “Sustainability Opportunities Week 2013,” presented by the partners and sponsors of SFU’s growing Sustainability Network!

In past years SFU’s Sustainability Advisory Committee organized an annual Sustainability Festival on Convocation Mall. Away back then (like, last year) our festivals focused on so-called “green” practices, services and products that offered an alternative to those that dominate our economies. SFU’s energy management practices were presented, as were sustainable clothing and design, transit alternatives and so on.

In the end, we realized we were putting a lot of effort into redirecting people from one model of consumption to another. “Green” or not, feeding the beast of consumption is what got us here. And, as Einstein reminds us: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

So this year we turn from consuming stuff—even if it’s green stuff—to opportunities: to participate, to become more aware, to grow and perhaps even to volunteer, be mentored, find work or a career that will allow you to contribute to making our world more sustainable. And what could be more important and more urgent!

I long considered jobs and careers that bear on sustainability as being a relatively small subset of our economy. As I imagined it, these tended to be in easily identifiable fields such as, say, marine biology, resource management, sustainable agriculture, “green chemistry” and so on.

Over the last few years it has become increasingly clear to me that our world is changing very fast, and the growing impacts of climate change, population growth and the associated growth in demand for resources will impose on us conditions that will make the interrelated concerns of ecological, economic and social sustainability a universal occupation.

In fact, it seems likely that 20 years from now every job will involve “sustainability” concerns, and that sustainable practices, ideas and values will be central to the work of both private industry and public institutions. Those who wonder whether such a fundamental cultural change can happen in a mere 20 years can reflect on how technology has changed society since 1990.

Over the coming week, others from SFU and beyond will blog about opportunities in sustainability from their own perspectives:

  • Wednesday – Annika Reinhardt (BC Hydro) discusses careers in energy conservation and efficiency, and our own Bernard Chan (Facilities Services) talks about a day in the life of an energy manager;
  • Thursday – brings comment on community engagement and careers in the sustainability field from Alexandra Lowe (Volunteer Services), while Kyle Empringham (Sustainable SFU) talks about how students can get involved on campus and in the community; and
  • Friday – we wrap up with an overview by Melanie Monk (SFU VP Research) of research at SFU related to sustainability and climate change, and the results of the graduate research poster competition at the Sustainability Opportunities Fair

We hope you’ll visit one or more of this week’s events, read the daily blog posts, and find something interesting, enjoyable or provocative to consider.

Again, welcome to SFU’s Sustainability Opportunities Week 2013!

For more information, go to: www.sfu.ca/sustainability/events/sow

SFU Sustainability Office

The Sustainability Network is a hub for sustainability initiatives at SFU and the Sustainability Office is both a member of the Network as well as its Secretariat. Created in July 2012, the Sustainability Office will guide the next phase in SFU's sustainability initiative grounded in the developing of a University Sustainability Strategic Plan engaging all Vice Presidential portfolios.  

For more information about sustainability at SFU visit: www.sfu.ca/sustainability or connect with us on: 


KC Bell is the first director of SFU's Sustainability Office and a passionate advocate for sustainability and climate action. He will be blogging regularly when the Office begins its Talking Sustainability initiative later this Spring.

Posted on January 28, 2013