SFU-led projects

Sustainability and climate action plan monthly spotlight: External and Community Engagement

June 08, 2023

Throughout the year, Simon Fraser University is highlighting each of the six goals within the 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. With six goals and 18 actions, the plan puts SFU on the path towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

It also sets SFU's aspirations for our impact in local, regional, national and global communities. Resilience and sustainability is a core value within What's Next: The SFU Strategy, and reflects SFU’s commitment to advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This month, we are featuring Goal 4: External and Community Engagement. Goal 4 utilises all of SFU’s community engagement units and partnerships to further our climate action, reconciliation and sustainability activities. SFU’s Vice-President, External Relations portfolio is accountable for this goal and is currently developing its individual implementation plan while it also takes action.

SFU’s vice-president external relations Joanne Curry.

“Community engagement is a part of our DNA at SFU,” says vice-president external relations Joanne Curry. “We are committed to supporting the development of sustainable, low-carbon, climate resilient communities close to home and around the world through partnerships and dialogue; through our educational programs; and our many outreach activities. We continue to increase our local, national and international impact and learn from others as we strive to build a resilient and sustainable future.” 

SFU recently ranked first in the world for sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) in the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) impact rankings, demonstrating the reach and success of SFU’s research, teaching and community engagement, in the areas of sustainability and climate action.

For the second year, SFU will send a formal delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP). The delegation will have the opportunity to highlight SFU’s climate leadership, build international connections and share what they learn with their communities. SFU faculty, staff and students with climate action experience can apply to be a part of the formal delegation to COP 28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from November 30 – December 12, 2023.

There are a number of external and community engagement units that support sustainability and climate action at SFU.

Take a look at some of the highlights:


The SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue pursues projects—as well as maintains ongoing programming—with the aim to create space for meaningful discussion. The Centre’s dialogue programming spans many topics and thematic areas, but it consistently returns to a few that carry a particular urgency. Two program themes that support Goal 4 include: climate solutions; and urban sustainability. The Centre’s Renewable Cities project is accelerating the transition to renewable, restorative, resilient cities. It is a part of the Centre’s Climate Solutions Group which also includes Clean Energy Canada and Moving in a Liveable Region. SFU Public Square hosts events and conversations on climate and the environment, with the goal of facilitating inclusive and meaningful action. The Vancity Office of Community Engagement supports public programming, community partnerships and community-engaged research on themes of arts, culture and community; social and environmental justice; and urban issues. Their “Below the Radar” podcast featured “The Climate Imaginary” series. And, the Envision Financial Community Leaders Igniting Change program helps participants build upon their leadership skills and confidence as changemakers and learn how to navigate complicated challenges in their organizations, communities and personal lives. 

SFU hosts global forum on sustainable cities

SFU was the host university for the 2022 THE University Impact Forum: Sustainable Cities, a Times Higher Education event. It was attended virtually by 600 organizations from around the world. The forum brought together an interdisciplinary delegation of sustainability practitioners, researchers and elected officials to explore opportunities to develop more sustainable cities and communities  (SDG 11)  Delegates heard from SFU community members who are working to build sustainability into urban and community planning and practice, as well as SFU experts on community-centered climate innovation.

Answering the global call for climate leadership

SFU sent its first formal delegation of faculty, staff and students to the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Egypt last November. As official observers, delegates learned how climate negotiations take place, connected with other global organizations and spoke at sessions showcasing SFU's climate action leadership. Representatives from SFU 350—the student-led climate action group—engaged with other international youth climate leaders. The SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue organized two events at COP 27 focused on cities and multi-level action. 

Learn more about SFU’s external and community engagement activities that support climate action on the Goal 4 web page.