2022-23 Annual Report

The 2022-2023 Annual Report shares highlights from each portfolio at Simon Fraser University (SFU).

Territorial acknowledgement

Simon Fraser University respectfully acknowledges the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Qayqayt, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen peoples on whose unceded traditional territories our three campuses reside.

The central SFU Sustainability team (SFUS) acknowledges that:

  • Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis despite being amongst the lowest greenhouse gas emitters;
  • In many profound ways, historical and ongoing settler colonialism has disrupted the relationships between Indigenous Peoples and the land; climate change compounds this disruption;
  • We are following in the footsteps of Indigenous land defenders who have resisted harmful resource extraction over the last 500 years, since the arrival of settlers to what is currently called “North America”; and
  • The environmental movement has contributed to the dispossession of Indigenous Lands and cultural practices through conservation efforts aimed at protecting a pristine environment from human use and that this notion of an untouched environment is fundamentally contrary to Indigenous understandings of land stewardship and reciprocal relationships with the land and all beings. 

Therefore, we also acknowledge that structural changes to our sustainability work are needed in order to approach this work in respectful and reciprocal ways. We do not claim to know what the best way forward in this work is, but we do know that it must be done in community, in reciprocal relationships, and in dialogue with each other.


The 2022-23 academic year marked the approval of SFU’s Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (2022-2025) and a major shift in SFU’s approach to sustainability and climate action. Recognizing that lasting systems change requires deep collaboration, strategic engagement and coordinated action across the entire SFU community, SFUS launched our Embedding Sustainability and Climate Action Approach (ESCAA). ESCAA leverages our institutional strengths and invites all students, staff and faculty to actively contribute to meeting our shared goals. Not only does ESCAA support the implementation of SFU’s Strategic Sustainability and Action Plan, it also directly connects to our institutional strategic plans: What’s Next?, SFU’s Equity Compass, our Strategic Research Plan, Walk This Path With Us, and several other guiding documents.  

ESCAA is driven by a Community of Practice (CoP) made up of key leaders and strategic communicators from each vice-president portfolio. Guided by each portfolio's vice-president and SFU’s Executive Team, and coordinated by SFUS, the members of the ESCAA CoP develop Vice-President portfolio-wide implementation plans, identify opportunities for collaboration with each other and other partners, participate in professional development, and support learning across their respective portfolios.

In the 2022-2023 academic year, ESCAA's CoP, as well as the planning and implementation process, was established with a senior leader and communicator from each Vice-President portfolio joining the CoP and actively participating in both planning and action toward the 2022-2025 strategic plan goals. 

The 2022-23 Annual Report includes selected highlights from each portfolio, curated by the ESCAA CoP and coordinated by SFUS. On behalf of the SFU community, SFUS would like to thank the ESCAA CoP for their ongoing support and leadership.


Goal 1: Learning and Teaching

Increase climate and sustainability literacy among faculty, staff and students through learning and teaching.

Accountable Lead: Provost and Vice-President, Academic 
ESCAA Lead: Acting Executive Director, Provost and Vice-President Academic  
ESCAA Communicator: Director, Communications and Marketing, Provost and Vice-President Academic

“We need new models for changing how we develop academic programming around sustainability challenges, embed experiential learning, and reward creative and innovative pedagogy.”

Naomi Krogman, Dean of SFU's Faculty of Environment


Continuing Studies launches Climate Action Certificate Program

Climate change has been labelled the biggest threat facing humanity, so what’s stopping us from taking urgent action? To help professionals make the bold leap from ideas to action, SFU Continuing Studies has now launched the Climate Action Certificate program. Designed for anyone working in government, planning, engineering, or other sectors impacted by climate change, the new online program offers the practical skills, knowledge, and strategies needed to advance your climate leadership, overcome systemic barriers and implement effective climate solutions. 

Environment dean challenges current sustainability education practices in new book

The Future of Sustainability Education at North American Universities, explores sustainability education and offers recommendations for higher education institutions to help students better understand how to advance sustainability. Editor of the book and dean of SFU’s Faculty of Environment, Naomi Krogman, was intrigued by the challenges universities face to approach and keep up with sustainability education. The book’s contributors bring forward a wide range of knowledge from biophysical and socio-cultural sciences to education policy and environmental studies to suggest that more integration is needed by institutions to teach sustainability, help students tackle pressing world issues, embrace experimentation, and foster meaningful involvement with local communities.

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Embark Sustainability’s Executive Director recognized for her leadership

Nelly Leo, executive director of Embark Sustainability, was recognized as one of the North American Association for Environmental Education's 30 Under 30 for her ongoing leadership in environmental and sustainability education at SFU and beyond. The review panel was incredibly impressed by Nelly’s leadership, passion and impact on building stronger, healthier communities through environmental education (EE). As part of the EE 30 Under 30 community, Nelly joins a global network of 240 young leaders in EE and has access to networking and professional development opportunities specifically for EE 30 Under 30 awardees/alumni.

SFUS and CEE conduct Climate Literacy Focus Groups and Consultations

SFUS and the Centre for Educational Excellence are co-leading the development of educational opportunities for SFU students, staff, and faculty to strengthen climate and sustainability knowledge and skills. In a spirit of co-creating with the SFU community, we conducted interactive focus groups on all campuses with support from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, as well as interviews with faculty, students and staff (fall 2022 – summer 2023). During these consultations we explored the needs, goals and expectations of the SFU community, and heard theories of change on how to help enhance climate and sustainability knowledge, skills and competences at SFU. 

Faculty of Environment hosts event on Facing Ecological Grief

At the end of April, the Faculty of Environment hosted an interdisciplinary dialogue exploring how we might face and embrace ecological grief, build resilience, and work together to create a more sustainable future. Jason Brown, Lecturer, SFU’s Global Humanities and Resource and Environmental Management, gave the keynote presentation, Litanies of Grief for the Coming Age, which can be read here

Participants brainstorming at a Climate Literacy focus group session.

Goal 2: Research

Integrate climate and sustainability across the research portfolio into research, partnerships, knowledge mobilization, international and innovation.

Accountable Lead: Vice-President, Research and International
ESCAA Lead: Executive Director, Vice-President Research and International Office
ESCAA Communicator: Director, Communications and Marketing

“A lot of people across SFU have spent a great amount of time over the last year 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, as well as in our new strategic research plan. 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.”

Dugan O'Neil, Vice-President, Research and International


Experts in community-centred climate innovation

As climate change intensifies, impacts will be felt at the community level. SFU's unique approach to this is community-centred climate innovation, founded on community partnerships, innovation and a deep commitment to Indigenous knowledges and perspectives.  Our community partners can leverage our expertise and capacities to develop climate change solutions that meet their specific needs. In May 2023, Alison Shaw joined SFU’s Office of the Vice-President, Research and International as the inaugural Executive Director for community-centred climate innovation. A leading sustainability and climate change scholar and practitioner, Shaw has over two decades of experience in pioneering innovative research-to-practice approaches across all sectors.

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SFU launches new five-year strategic research plan with priority areas demonstrating commitment to United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals

With a reputation as one of Canada’s fastest growing research institutions, SFU’s 2023-2028 Strategic Research Plan (SRP) identifies key areas of strength and focus for the future. The plan embeds the core values of the university’s institutional plan into research practice using six approaches and includes five institutional research priority areas that demonstrate SFU’s commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

New SFU global engagement framework to advance the UN SDGs

SFU International—with support from the SFU Sustainability team—developed the SDG Framework for Global Engagement at SFU through an extensive process. They gathered quantitative and qualitative data about SFU’s four core functional areas: research, learning and teaching, operations and engagement, and conducted institution-wide consultation with key stakeholders and SDG experts. The framework will help guide SFU’s global initiatives and engagement in alignment with the 17 SDGs.

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SFU climate action and sustainability leaders attend COP 27

For the first time, the university sent a formal delegation of SFU community members, including VPRI Dugan O'Neil, to participate the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022. The annual international meeting brings together the 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

SFU partners with the City of Burnaby to advance new Civic Innovation Lab

In collaboration with the vice-president, external relations portfolio, the VPRI portfolio worked to solidify the partnership with the City of Burnaby to advance the Civic Innovation Lab. Through the lab, SFU will share its leading-edge research strengths in innovation and sustainability to move ahead practical solutions for the city’s most pressing urban issues, from diversity and housing to sustainable growth and environmental challenges caused by climate change.

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SFU and Aga Khan University further collaborations with new agreement

Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Aga Khan University (AKU) have signed an agreement to facilitate joint research, faculty, and student exchanges and collaborations between the two institutions that address pressing global issues, such as climate change and environmental sustainability. The SFU International team facilitated this partnership.

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L-R: Mike Boleak, director, research intelligence office; Seychelle Cushing, executive director, strategic partnerships hub; Michael Richards, associate vice-president, research; Diane Hanano, director, institutional strategic awards; Dugan O'Neil, VPRI; Mary Chen, communications and marketing officer, VPRI portfolio; Elicia Maine, associate vice-president, knowledge mobilization and innovation; and Shelley Gair, executive director, VPRI portfolio.

Goal 3: People, Equity and Inclusion

Embed climate justice and community wellness into all of SFU’s climate and sustainability activities.

Accountable Lead: Vice-President, People, Equity and Inclusion
ESCAA Lead: Executive Director, Equity Office
ESCAA Communicator: Director, Internal Communications

“Studies have revealed that people who are affected by climate change are often disproportionately of low socio-economic status, live in under-resourced communities, or have disabilities or language barriers, and face race-based and gender-based discrimination. To address the climate crisis, we must also address the underlying issues of inequality and injustice. The Equity Office is collaborating with the SFU Sustainability Office to identify intersections between the Equity Compass and the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and develop strategies that will enable the university to progress in both areas simultaneously. Our collective efforts will enable us to build an SFU where all can thrive.”

Samir Traoré, Executive Director, Equity Office


Launch of people plan and equity compass

In April 2023, the Office of the Vice-President, People, Equity and Inclusion shared two institutional strategic plans that outlines their work towards transforming the people experience at SFU. These plans are aligned with other institutional plans including the Academic Plan, Community Engagement Plan and the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

The Equity Office has hosted Equity, Diversity and Inclusion training and facilitated discussions with SFU Sustainability to improve the capacity of the central sustainability team to integrate equity considerations across the university’s sustainability and climate action work. 

The Equity Office is co-developing a decision-making tool with SFU Sustainability that can provide a framework that helps units and leaders consider both EDI and sustainability when making decisions, planning projects, implementing strategic plans, and designing new initiatives.

In alignment with What’s Next: The SFU Strategy, the Equity Office has released a set of guidelines for including EDI in performance planning. In this guide readers are invited to think about both EDI and the goals within the SFU Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action plan, which reinforces the link between these two critical concepts.

Goal 4: External and Community Relations

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.

Accountable Lead: Vice-President, External Relations
ESCAA Lead: Executive Director, Surrey Campus
ESCAA Communicator: Senior Director, Media Relations and Public Affairs


SFU tops Times Higher Education Impact Rankings for Sustainable Cities and Communities

The annual rankings measure universities’ strengths in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which call on developed and developing countries to partner on critical global issues. SFU also topped the rankings for sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) in 2020 and has consistently been among the top 10 universities worldwide in that category since then. Nationally, SFU also ranks third for climate action (SDG 13).

Climate Action Fellowship final showcase

On June 24, 2023, the Climate Action Fellowship cohort hosted a final Showcase. This Showcase presented the opportunity for the community to gather and meet SFU’s Climate Action Fellows. After 10 weeks of exploration and inquiry, the new Fellows shared their insights on community-driven climate action opportunities in Burnaby.  

Empowering communities to endure climate disasters

With the mounting climate crisis, British Columbians can expect more floods, fires and other disasters in their future. On June 20, 2023, SFU Public Square hosted an online event bringing together experts to discuss how resilience can begin with empowered communities and the ways to mitigate risks. Attendees heard from people personally impacted by climate disasters and considered how we can come together to heal and rebuild after devastation.

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Fourteen student-led teams win funding to realize community impact

Featuring community-engaged research, policy-targeted knowledge mobilization, equity-serving knowledge translation and even Bertie, a breakfast banana mascot, this year’s winners of the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition are bravely building community partnerships across B.C. in order to tackle challenging complex issues, like Islamophobia, food insecurity, health justice and more.

Goal 5: Operations

Embed climate (mitigation and resilience) and sustainability into all operational decisions and projects and work to achieve milestones toward the United Nations-led Race To Zero campaign commitment.

Accountable Lead: Vice-President, Finance and Administration
ESCAA Lead: Director, Vice-President, Finance and Administration Office
ESCAA Communicator: Director, Communications and Marketing

“Sustainability and climate action is a foundational priority for our portfolio. Building sustainability objectives and practices into the day-to-day operational services we deliver for the university will continue to be a key component of how we do what we do. The delivery of Goal 5 will formalize this commitment and establish sustainable measures and achievements that will continue to benefit our SFU and local communities.”

Martin Pochurko, Vice-President, Finance and Administration

“SFU is a leader among Canadian universities for taking action in responsible investing and fulfilling our deep commitment to making a positive impact at SFU and in the world. We continue to integrate climate-related risks and opportunities into our investment processes and support the transition toward a net zero economy.”

Karamjeet Heer, Associate Vice-President, Finance


SFU accelerates towards decarbonizing its investments

SFU’s Investment Portfolio Carbon Footprint Factsheet details the university’s efforts to reduce its investment portfolio’s carbon footprint by 45 per cent by 2025. Towards this end, as of March 2022, the university has achieved a 74 per cent reduction in its investment portfolio’s carbon footprint, which is 29 per cent above target and well ahead of its 2025 deadline. In addition, SFU has pledged full divestment from fossil fuels by the end of 2025. The university is well on its way to its target having already eliminated all fossil fuel investments in its global equity portfolio.

Burnaby campus biomass facility celebrates 2nd year anniversary after smashing renewable energy records

Having forgone in-person milestone celebrations, like a grand opening and first anniversary during the pandemic, the Burnaby Mountain District Energy Utility (BMDEU), a collaboration between SFU, SFU Community Trust, and Corix Utilities, finally celebrated our second anniversary in October 2022 alongside more than 35 consulting, trade and contracting companies who contributed to the creation of the project.

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Indigenous dining program launches at SFU dining commons

Since March 24, 2023, SFU has offered Indigenous food in the SFU Dining Commons thanks to Indigenous Chef Stephanie Baryluk (a.k.a 'Chef Steph') and a grant from Feed BC. The dining program, called Rooted, has been designed with the help of Chef Steph to feature dishes that highlight Indigenous flavours and aim to educate students, faculty and staff about Indigenous foods. To support the program, a digital information hub will be created as an educational resource for the community to learn more while they enjoy the dishes.

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SFU food leaders share sustainability strides at UN Food Systems Summit

In July 2023, a trio of leaders from SFU’s food programming team travelled to Rome for the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit to share how SFU and Chartwells Canada, the university’s on-campus food service provider, are innovating to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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E-waste recycling program launches across all three campuses

Working with Quantum Lifecycle, a local company operating state-of-the-art reuse and recycling systems, IT Services plans to recycle and repurpose all SFU’s data-bearing devices, such as computers cell phones, tablets, and servers (among other equipment). By extending the life of devices, fewer head to the landfill and SFU contributes to our goal of reducing the need for raw materials to manufacture new products in the first place.

Goal 6: 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.

Accountable Lead: Vice-President, EAdvancement and Alumni Engagement
ESCAA Lead: Senior Director, Advancement Services
ESCAA Communicator: Managing Director, Communications and Donor Relations

“AAE is deeply committed to embedding sustainability and climate action into all of our interactions with SFU’s alumni and donor community. From shifting how we manage events to ensuring our operations contribute to a health and thriving society, AAE is proud to support SFU in meeting its sustainability goals.”

Ted Peterson, Managing Director, Communications and Donor Relations


Embedding sustainability

Advancement and Alumni Engagement (AAE) embeds sustainability thinking in all operations of our department, from targeting our donors, staff, faculty, alumni, and various philanthropic programs to structuring themes, as applicable, within the new comprehensive campaign.  

AAE has been active in supporting our portfolio’s sustainability goals by enthusiastically pursuing sustainability fundraising initiatives, and by amplifying SFU’s commitment to sustainability through our events, operations, and donor or alumni communications as well as stewardship and engagement initiatives. Collaborating with SFU Sustainability, we are in the preliminary stages of conceiving a proposed community-driven sustainability fund. 

Sharing Successes

AAE is highlighting and amplifying SFU’s progress and commitment to sustainability to alumni and donors whenever possible, including sharing the university’s progress on decarbonizing investments and providing fundraisers with up-to-date resources on SFU’s endowment and building an environmentally responsible investment portfolio. 

Stories highlighting AAE’s activities that support sustainability: 

Operational shifts

To encourage our operations’ carbon footprint reduction, we have switched to paperless delivery channels to our donors, including tax receipts and regulatory reporting. In other donor and alumni communications, we have also pivoted to paperless production and distribute primarily in digital format, including: our monthly SFU Alumni eNews, Engage magazine (which goes out twice per year), stewardship and impact reports, discussion papers, proposals, and other solicitation materials. 

Whether we are planning alumni, donor or stewardship events, staff meetings or socials, we encourage the use of public transit and/or carpooling to our events. We try to use locally sourced catering whenever possible, and our event invitations are also almost exclusively digital in format.

The central SFU Sustainability team

The central SFU Sustainability team develops and guides system-wide sustainability plans and provides strategic support to amplify student, faculty and staff sustainability and climate action initiatives across the institution. SFUS identifies opportunities to meet, exceed and lead on internal and external targets. This includes monitoring and reporting on the university’s progress against key performance metrics and global sustainability indicators.

Our core services include:

  • Planning - Facilitating the development and implementation of the university’s five-year strategic sustainability plans and identifying opportunities to meet, exceed and lead on internal and external sustainability targets. 
  • Administration & Secretariat - Acting as SFU's central hub for sustainability administration. Providing central coordination of sustainability and climate action planning, measurement, evaluation, and reporting, record keeping, contacts, data, policy, procedures and communications. Identifying and securing funding and revenue opportunities for scaling and amplifying SFU's sustainability and climate work.
  • Organizational Development and Change Management - Working on transformational change design to ensure sustainability and climate action principles and practices are embedded into the SFU’s policies, processes, structures, budgeting systems, mindsets and practices. Sustainability and climate action need to be addressed by embedding the necessary changes into the fabric and culture of the institution and SFUS leads this work. 
  • Capacity building, Education and Training – Providing education, training, connection support, advising and resources to all SFU community members to assist in embedding sustainability and climate action into work, teaching and learning.  
  • Synergies, Convening and Connecting - Maintaining a ‘birds-eye’ view of SFU’s work and impact in sustainability and climate. Identifying connections and opportunities for synergies and cross-silo/transdisciplinary collaborations. Connecting people internally to each other and external communities with our SFU community.
  • Reputation and SFU’s Sustainability Narrative - Enhancing SFU's profile and reputation on climate and sustainability. Amplifying the work of faculty, students, staff and community partners in the areas of sustainability and climate action.  

Top 10 Shared Successes


in the world

Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11)

SFU was ranked #1 in the world for Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) by the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.


in the world

climate action (SDG 13)


SFU was ranked #5 in the world for Climate Action (SDG 13) by the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.


in Canada

Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16)

SFU was ranked #4 in Canada for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) by the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.


80,000 chopsticks upcycled

In partnership with ChopValue, SFU has upcycled nearly 80,000 chopsticks over the past 20 months.


52% reduction in GHG emissions

In 2022, SFU reported a reduction of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 52 per cent from our 2007 baseline, despite the university’s physical footprint increasing by approximately 30 per cent.


$32.6M fully divested from fossil fuels

SFU’s two student-managed funds, the Student Investment Advisory Service Fund and the Beedie Endowment Asset Management Fund, worth a combined $32.6 million, are now fully divested from fossil fuels.


SFU sources 40% local products 

SFU’s partnership with Feed BC allows us to work with social enterprises like Goodly Foods to source 40 per cent local products, which helps us make a difference for BC, including our local suppliers and producers.


110+ participants in climate literacy events

More than 110 SFU students, staff, and faculty have provided insight around the future of climate and sustainability literacy at SFU.


Canadian Innovative University

SFU was ranked the #1 Canadian Innovative University in the 2023 World University Rankings for Innovation.


High-performance green building standards

SFU is incorporating high-performance green building standards. This can be seen in buildings such as the Dining Commons, the Sustainable Energy Engineering Building in Surrey and the Student Union Building, which are all built to LEED gold standards. Future buildings such as the First Peoples Gathering House, the Phase 2 courtyard project, and Gibson Art Museum will also be built to LEED gold. In addition, the new Family Housing residence completed in early 2022 is a model for energy-efficient infrastructure, incorporating Passive House principles.

Learn more

Read the latest sustainability updates and progress reports.

News & Reports