The Sandbox

As a geophysicist and climate scientist in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Dr. Natalya Gomez is interested in the interactions between the solid earth, ice, and sea-level changes. She sat down with us to reflect on her role as a citizen and an educator at McGill.

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We sat down with McGill’s Sustainable Procurement Project Manager, Stéphanie Leclerc, to discuss her past involvement in the Vision 2020 process and her hopes for the 2017-2020 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

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We sat down with McGill’s Energy Manager in the Utilities and Energy Management Department, Jerome Conraud, to discuss Vision 2020 action, operations, and community engagement processes on campus!

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Amelia is responsible for organizing and facilitating key actors at McGill to actualize our Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy. Read on to learn more about Vision 2020 and the woman behind the process.


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The main thing we can celebrate about Vision 2020 is the fact that a large, diverse community of people passionate about sustainability came together to write a crucial visioning document – and that the same spirit of community participation and engagement is still alive today!

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[French…]


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La principale chose qu’on peut célébrer de Vision 2020, c’est le fait qu’une communauté de gens passionnés par le développement durable se soit constituée, et que cette communauté soit toujours aussi active aujourd’hui!

[French…]


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Over the past year, Krista Houser (SPF Administrator), Shona Watt (SPF Analyst) and Kim McGrath (Sustainability Officer) have been working on transforming the processes behind the Sustainability Projects Fund. We sat down for a quick chat about the revamped application form, the SPF Working Group, and their vision for the future.

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On Oct. 16, McGill University launched the Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy, a blueprint for increasing social, economic, and environmental sustainability in the McGill community. Over a hundred and fifty students attended the launch event at the Y-intersection last Thursday afternoon.

                             Oct. 21, 2014 | The McGill Tribune | By: Victor Tang

    Developed under the mandate of the McGill’s 2010 sustainability policy, the strategy divides sustainability at McGill into five categories: Research and governance, administration, education, operations, and connectivity. It also outlines 14 priority actions that fall into the five categories, including increased student research geared towards sustainability, the development of campus hubs to foster a culture of sustainability, and a greater commitment towards green building standards.

    The construction of the sustainability strategy was spearheaded by the McGill Office of Sustainability (MOOS) and funded by the Sustainability Projects Fund created in 2009. The consultation process took place over the span of two years.

    “Since February 2012, over 1,000 McGill community members have contributed their visions and action ideas to this process through more than 20 public events, dozens of presentations, and online,” reads the document. “Students, staff, and faculty were engaged in countless conversations, world-café style discussions, flash consultations, one-on-one interviews, and working groups to imagine and plan for a more sustainable McGill.”

    While previous drafts of the strategy included up to 51 priority actions, the final document was pared down to 14. The final draft was approved by the McGill senior administration in March of 2014 and was then later presented to the university’s Senate and Board of Governors.

    Senior Communications Officer of MOOS Julia Solomon said that although the strategy specified a two year time frame from 2014-2016 for its objectives, the vision and goals would be relevant for many years to come.

    “We chose a short period so that the actions would be tangible, and there would be a sense of urgency about moving them forward and reporting back on progress,” she said.

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Early in his tenure at the Office of Sustainability, Martin Krayer von Krauss gave an interview to the McGill Reporter outlining his vision for sustainability at McGill. Before he left McGill to return to Denmark in August, he answered a few questions for us here.

Q: What are the top three single largest sustainability challenges facing McGill today?

A: First, the dilapidated state of our buildings. Second, the astonishingly high carbon emissions from our air travel. Third, the need for unified sustainability leadership to effectively address sustainability at a university-wide scale.

Q: Do you feel McGill is doing all that it could about these challenges?

A: Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that we are doing our best to tackle them using the means at our disposal. The problem is that the means that we have put at our disposal are the part of the same logical framework that got us into this mess in the first place.

Q: Please explain…

A: Let’s take, for example, the lamentable state of our buildings. I have nothing but respect for the staff within McGill who have repeatedly pounded on the table to draw attention to the fact that our buildings are crumbling. It takes a lot of courage to be a whistle blower. It takes even more courage to denounce a situation that most of us have come to think of as normal, but which in reality is the product of decades of abnormal and unacceptable neglect, for which we all have responsibility.


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We’re in a celebratory mood over here at the Vision 2020 headquarters. Today we’re releasing two reports: the Vision 2020 Impact Report and the Vision 2020 Failure Report! Twins!

It may seem like a strange time to release two mostly retrospective reports. After all, Vision 2020 isn’t over, and this next phase is mostly about looking ahead to the future. That being said, we have come a long way in the last 18 months, and we wanted to sift through the work that’s been done to uncover some important lessons.