The Office of Sustainability continues to seek feedback on the five commitments, five goals and 17 actions on their sustainability strategy.
The President’s Advisory Circle, along with the Student Sustainability Coalition, has been developing the strategy since Jan. 2020. They are currently presenting the strategy to various groups on campus such as the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union and the university Senate. Next they will go to the University Council and the Board of Governors to seek endorsement.
Irena Creed, the Special Advisor to the President on Sustainability, says “the feedback has been exceptionally positive” so far and that they are implementing people’s comments into the strategy as they go along. The feedback and edits have been relatively minor though, as work into the strategy has been ongoing for a while, says Creed.
“We presented at the Planning and Priorities Committee of Council last week, and the comments were that it was powerful. It was exciting. It was aspirational,” Creed said. “Aspirational is definitely a word that everyone has used.”
The university’s five commitments in the strategy are to “leverage our place,” “model the way,” “empower action,” “capitalize on strengths” and “catalyze social change.” Each commitment has a goal and multiple actions listed.
In outlining the need for a sustainability plan, on the Office of Sustainability’s website, President Peter Stoicheff says that sustainability is an important principle and hopes to bring together initiatives across campus into one cohesive strategy.
“Sustainability isn’t merely another problem to be tackled or solved by innovative research and study; it is an essential conviction that must be a part of all decisions made within the influence of the institution,” Stoicheff said.
The strategy is influenced by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as the U of S sees itself as part of the global community, says Creed.
“We wanted to be part of … that global vision and the global challenge that was articulated in those United Nations SDGs, and so they framed the entire strategy,” Creed said.
The SDGs range from ending poverty to climate action to gender equality. Creed says that, in terms of the university’s strategy, “we’re not looking at one aspect of sustainability, we’re looking at 17 different aspects as articulated in those goals.”
Similarly, Creed believes that equity, diversity and Indigenization are all important aspects of sustainability as well.
“We can’t pursue a sustainability strategy without … integrating Indigenous perspectives and we can’t pursue sustainability, without integrating equity, diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging,” Creed said.
Creed says that working on this strategy is not only important for sustainability, but also to foster hope in the current times as a lot of the focus recently has been on university finances.
“To bring something that is empowering and positive and aspirational brought a lot of hopefulness to people as well, which I thought was wonderful,” Creed said.