Planning Underway for Sustainability Action Plan

Students Groups and Faculty Encouraged to Join In

  • Concordia’s greenhouse, located on the 13th floor of the Hall building. File Photo Brandon Johnston

The university’s sustainability action plan is expected to come out sometime next year, and the school is encouraging student groups and faculty to engage in the process.

“If somebody’s really interested in a particular stream we really highly encourage them to email us,” said Chantal Forgues, Concordia’s sustainability coordinator. “We’d love to have them on board.”

Five areas will be focused on, and were decided through public consultations with the community. One stream will tackle sustainability in curriculum and research, and others will address accessibility and diversity, climate change, along with the school’s food services and waste production.

“Divestment (from fossil fuels) was ranked really high in terms of priorities during the consultations, and so it was really important to us to to make sure it is addressed as a sub-topic (of the climate change stream),” said Forgues.

“My expectation would be that we would be setting goals for greenhouse gas emissions for the university, and making a climate action plan,” she continued, while mentioning the school already keeps an inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Forgues said the diversity and accessibility stream could potentially address physical accessibility to the university, or aim to increase the school’s research on access to education for minority groups.

“I’d like to see as we go forward, to continue to work on accessibility for students with disabilities, around mobility around campus,” said Alan Shepard, president of Concordia. “There’s still more work to be done.”

Shepard also said presentations about the sustainability plan have already been given at meetings for Concordia’s board of governors and senate

The food stream would likely look into how sustainable Concordia’s contract is with their food provider, or in implementing more student-run food services, Forgues said.

More sustainability related courses could also be expected through the plan, she said.In 2016, the Sustainability Action Fund proposed the idea of having a 45-credit Leadership in Sustainability major, but it’s yet to be seen whether it’ll become a reality.

File Photo Franca Mignacca

Once groups are formed to tackle each stream, more planning will go on to address what each group will work on more concretely.

While most groups for each stream are still in their infancy, Forgues said those backing the waste stream have already hashed out what they will focus on, with plans to make sure the school has furniture reuse services, better event waste reduction and more standardized waste bins on campus.

Statistics from 2017 estimate that composting at Concordia has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 13 per cent, and this fall Waste not Want Not reported they had increased their composting by 40 per cent since beginning the project in 2016.

Groups behind the waste action plan include the student led Waste Not Want Not project, the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse, and facilities management. Forgues said other groups can ask to work on other streams by contacting the school at sustainability@concordia.ca.

“Concordia’s been a leader in this and has done a lot historically, and we started with stuff that’s maybe more obvious, around locally sourced food,” said Shepard. “Especially around waste, not putting stuff in landfills–it’s there for a thousand years–it’s horrible.”

A“Sustainability Framework Governance” team comprised of groups like Sustainable Concordia, the Sustainability Action Fund, the Concordia Student Union, and the Graduate Student Association will oversee the sustainability plan with the university.

The team will look at how the sustainability plan will address the school’s operations, its curriculum and research, and will also aim to ensure students are engaging with sustainability efforts on campus.

“It’s really this governance framework that is going to be monitoring the different action items,” said Forgues.

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