Engage in Global Challenges

Embedding sustainability and climate action into all that we do

April 22, 2024

The ability to have a positive impact on the world is deeply important when students chose a university or college, when researchers select their field of study and when faculty and staff look for meaningful work.

Simon Fraser University acknowledges its unique role and responsibility to address societal challenges, like sustainability and climate change through its operations, teaching and learning, research and engagement—our students, faculty, staff and community wouldn’t have it any other way.  

These commitments are demonstrated through the 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan; What’s Next: The SFU Strategy and through SFU’s support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

This Earth Day we share a few highlights of the ongoing efforts to embed sustainability and climate action in all that we do.

Earth Day 2024: The planet vs. plastics

The SFU Re-use for Good campaign, is a university-wide SFU Zero Waste initiative helping end our reliance on single-use products on campus.

Since 2020, the program has saved over 700,000 plastic bottles. Since 2019, it has saved over 100,000 plastic bags at the bookstore.

Ban the Bottle (B2B) is an initiative led by students and supported by the Pacific Water Research Centre. It aims to ban the sale of bottled water at SFU and help the university maintain its position as a sustainability leader.

B2B is also supported by the SFU Sustainability Office, SFU Ancillary Services and the Simon Fraser Student Society.

Since 2019, they have established 168 water stations and reduced operational waste by 10%.

Meeting SFU's sustainability and climate goals

The university’s sustainability efforts have a long history that has evolved from grassroots advocacy to university-wide initiatives. Thank you to our students, staff and faculty members who are taking meaningful action to regenerate our Earth's ecosystems, slow climate change, build community resilience to climate impacts and advance environmental justice.

SFU Sustainability and SFU’s leadership team have worked together to identify over 150 activities that will support meeting the goals set out in the 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

SFU Sustainability (SFUS) plays a key role in ensuring that sustainability and climate action are integrated into our institution's core business and across all activities. In 2022, they developed the 2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, and have been guiding implementation of that plan.

Most recently, SFUS has launched SFU’s Embedding Sustainability and Climate Action (ESCA) framework and has facilitated collaborative climate action across each vice-president portfolio. Working with faculty and staff across all portfolios, they have helped identify over 150 activities that support SFU’s sustainability and climate action goals.  

"I am grateful for the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of global and Indigenous leaders. I was immersed in a dynamic blend of advocacy, ancestral knowledge and innovation aimed at addressing climate-related issues." - Tyler Mitchell, student, EMBA in Indigenous Business and Leadership

SFU delegation at COP 28

SFU's participation in COP 28 marks the second time the university has sent a delegation from across the university to the conference. Students, faculty and staff who are engaged in climate action were able to share their work and connect with other global organizations. SFU student climate leaders connected with the youth delegation and shared key takeaways and learnings with the SFU community, including innovative approaches to sustainability, the power of youth climate leadership and the importance of deep and impactful connections with people from around the world.

Accelerating high-impact climate innovation

As climate change intensifies, its effects are increasingly felt within and across communities. Its impact will vary from region to region; different communities require different climate change mitigation and adaption strategies —some will have floods, some will have droughts, or fires.

SFU Climate Innovation is committed to meeting the changing needs of the world around us and the people we serve. Its focus is on facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration, catalyzing co-creation with community partners and mobilizing and scaling climate innovation. This SFU research priority is building a platform to advance and accelerate high-impact climate action and innovation with and for communities.

Research that benefits people and the planet

Scholars across all SFU faculties are pursuing research to advance the understanding of the natural world and address environmental concerns. SFU News and SFU’s Scholarly Impact of the Week featured the work of several of these scholars over the past year:

Vincenzo Pecunia
Faculty of Applied Sciences

Harvesting ambient energy to power the future

Clifford Atleo (Niis Na'yaa/Kam’ayaam/Chachim’multhnii)
Faculty of Environment

Decolonizing global planetary health

Jiangchuan Liu and Jonathan Moore
Faculty of Science and Faculty of Environment

"Salmonvision" AI helps ensure the health of wild salmon

Andy Hira
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Pension power: How average citizens can affect climate change

Shawn Chartrand
Faculty of Environment

Understanding climate change in the Arctic  

“Climate change is here. It is not a thing of the future, it is a thing of the present…intense variability is the new norm, with society and landscapes adapting and changing to keep up."

Shawn Chartrand, environmental scientist  

On Earth Day and throughout the year, SFU is committed to taking bold steps to prioritize sustainability, climate justice, resilience and action on our campuses, in our communities and through our research.

Join the SFU sustainability community and learn more at sfu.ca/sustainability.