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SFU launches renewed sustainability and climate action plan
Simon Fraser University deepens our commitment to sustainability and climate action with the release of SFU’s 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.
The plan puts SFU on the path towards net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. With six goals and 18 actions, the plan mobilizes the entire institution to embed climate action throughout our operations, research, academics, and community and global engagement.
In 2020, SFU launched a five-year sustainability plan, which acknowledged the climate crisis and set 16 climate action targets for 2025. Designed as a living document, the original plan has undergone a refresh, evolving into SFU’s 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. Furthermore, continued work on sustainability came up as a recurring theme during the consultation for SFU: What's Next and will be included as a core value for the SFU community.
“I spent a lot of time this year talking with SFU’s communities about the future of the university—and one of the things I heard most clearly was the need to embed sustainability into our research, teaching and operations,” says SFU president Joy Johnson. “This renewed plan provides a path forward, and it will be a critical part of keeping us accountable as we work towards our climate action goals.”
The updated plan—developed in consultation with the SFU community and co-designed with the executive team—reflects the substantial shift in context since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and more recent commitments, such as SFU’s divestment from fossil fuels, joining the United Nations-led Race To Zero campaign and formally declaring a global climate emergency. With updates to equity, diversity and inclusion, reconciliation and the student experience, this plan is designed to address sustainability, organizational culture and systems change across the university.
Dugan O’Neil, SFU’s vice-president, research and international, is the VP responsible at the university for research, international, innovation and sustainability. He explains, “We must find ways to use all of the tools we have to maximize our sustainability impact—if we can align research, education, operations, industry partnerships, international relationships and community engagement in just the right way, we can create the most change. Many people from across SFU have spent a great amount of time thinking about how to integrate climate action across all of the pillars of activity at the university. You will see the results of that work in our updated strategic sustainability and climate action plan.”
The plan focuses on six overarching goals:
- Learning and teaching: Increase climate and sustainability literacy among faculty, staff and students through learning and teaching.
- Research: Integrate climate and sustainability across the research portfolio into research, partnerships, knowledge mobilization, international and innovation.
- People, Equity and Inclusion: Embed climate justice and community wellness into all of SFU’s climate and sustainability activities.
- External and Community Engagement: Expand SFU’s local, regional and international impact in climate and sustainability using conduits, assets and platforms we already have, to deepen existing partnerships and avenues for this work. This will include the municipalities and host nations SFU has campuses in as well as new strategic partnerships.
- Operations: Embed climate (mitigation and resilience) and sustainability into all operational decisions and projects and work to achieve milestones toward the UN-led Race To Zero campaign commitment.
- Advancement and alumni engagement: Embed sustainability thinking in all operations of the department targeting our donors, staff, faculty and alumni and various philanthropic programs and themes as applicable by the new comprehensive campaign.
All SFU vice-presidents will support the plan’s six goals with action and implementation plans developed in collaboration with the central SFU Sustainability team. Each VP will be accountable for one of the six goals within the plan and will also work together for maximum systems impact. Updates will be shared with the SFU community in the coming months and throughout next year.
“We all play a role in contributing to sustainability and climate action,” says Candace Ratelle Le Roy, executive director of SFU Sustainability.
“SFU’s renewed sustainability plan commits us to a whole systems approach by the university where we all become accountable for reducing GHG emissions, accelerating climate research, expanding learning and teaching on climate and seeding community-centered climate innovations. Grounding all this work will be a strong focus on a climate and environmental justice, equity design and community wellness which are critical for doing this work in a good way.”
To read the full plan and for more information, visit SFU’s new sustainability website.