Concordia Sustainability Action Plan
Concordia has been busy developing our first-ever Sustainability Action Plan in collaboration with the wider Concordia community. Overarching goals include helping the university reach carbon neutrality and elaborating a roadmap for sustainability in the areas of food, waste, climate, research and curriculum.
Sustainability Planning Timeline
Since the adoption of Concordia’s sustainability policy in 2016, Concordia has been collaborating with its community in order to develop a Sustainability Action Plan that addresses the university’s unique strengths and challenges.
Learn more about each of these important steps below.
On December 14, 2016, Concordia University adopted a sustainability policy in which the University committed to the development of sustainability plans that would guide the strategic integration of sustainability within organizational planning.
Based on the topics identified through the consultations, Concordia’s sustainability team approached individual students, faculty and staff to form multi-stakeholder committees. The topic of Diversity and Accessibility was migrated to the Office of the Provost and VP, Academic Affairs through the creation of the Working Group on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
Each of the stream committees were tasked with developing stream plans that will support Concordia’s vision of sustainability, guide sustainability activities and projects across campus, and allow us to celebrate successes and share lessons learned.
Between March 15 and 29, we presented our community with the draft stream plans and invited them to a consultation process that would allow us to:
- Ensure that we are on the right track
- Identify priority strategies for implementation
- Plan for the best way to collaborate with our community as we work towards our 5-year sustainability objectives
The Food, Waste, Climate, Research and Curriculum stream committees then met to consider how best to prioritize and address recommendations on issues such as:
- Fostering a culturally holistic approach to food sustainability at Concordia
- Promoting the culture change necessary to move toward a zero-waste campus
- Considering the impacts of investments in setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets
- Becoming a leader in teleconferencing as a way to reduce business and research travel emissions
- Facilitating interdisciplinary sustainability research, as well as links between the external community and student and faculty researchers
- Providing learning opportunities that make use of and improve the green space on campus
Once the stream committees had incorporated the feedback from the community consultations, they presented their final recommendations to the Sustainability Advisory Committee. Since then, our academic and operational units have been hard at work identifying projects, budgets and timelines that will support the stream committee recommendations and will move Concordia in the direction of its sustainability goals.
In September 2019, Concordia joined nine other Québec Universities in declaring a climate emergency in advance of the international climate strike on September 27. In signing the declaration, Concordia acknowledges the urgent nature of the climate crisis and the threat it holds for our local and global social, ecological, and economic systems.
The declaration includes three structural commitments to sustainability:
- Become carbon-neutral by 2030, or 2050 at the latest
- Allocate more resources for research aiming to fight climate change and develop related skills
- Increase the availability of environmental and sustainability education in academic programs, on campuses and in community-awareness programs.
These commitments are fully in-line with the Sustainability Action Plan targets and strategies.
On November 8, the Concordia University Foundation announced that it would reach 100 percent sustainable investments for its endowment fund and stop investing in coal, oil and gas by 2025. It also committed to doubling its level of impact investing in activities that produce measurable social or environmental benefits, bringing it to 10% of the long-term allocation pool.
These decisions are consistent with other major initiatives Concordia has taken. In 2014, the Concordia University Foundation (CUF) transferred $5 million (3%) from its long-term investment pool to a newly-created sustainable investment fund (becoming the first University in Canada to divest a portion of its investments from fossil fuels) and in 2018, the CUF became a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).
Concordia’s community – students, staff and faculty – have long been involved in efforts towards greater sustainability and divestment.
At the time of our community consultations in March 2019, the draft climate action plan included strong commitments to Social Impact Investing and to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, as well a commitment to assess and report on our endowment fund’s exposure to carbon-intensive industries before recommending targets for decarbonization.
Through the consultations, our community of students, faculty and staff emphasized that the inclusion of explicit targets for divestment are an instrumental piece in addressing our University’s Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, and that as an institute of higher learning, Concordia has a responsibility to take leadership on this critical issue. Faculty and students went on to raise the subject at a May senate meeting while student groups continued to advocate for climate leadership.
These newly announced commitments will form the basis of the five-year investment targets of the Climate Action Plan, which will outline tangible strategies for attaining these targets.
If universities want governments and citizens to act on the science we produce, a good place to start is by translating our research into action through sustainable practices in our own operations and activities
Graham Carr, Concordia President and Vice-Chancellor
Sustainability Hub Lunch & Learn videos
Because the topics of Food, Waste, Climate Change, Research, and Curriculum form the basis of our Sustainability Action Plan, the Sustainability Hub workgroup engaged Concordians in its development through a series of Lunch & Learns. In this series of videos, we hear from the students, faculty and staff making change at Concordia around these topics.