Archive for June, 2015

Painting the future: Opportunities for more healthy, local and sustainable food

Beth-2014-1Three years ago, a small group of senior staff from three foundations gathered to talk about our common efforts to support local and sustainable food development: helping farmers access markets, improving supply chains, protecting prime farmland, raising public awareness and informing public policy. What was missing, we mused, was the background to all this work that would help us and others understand the context for all these individual efforts: imports, exports, pollution, waste, taxes, and subsidies.

So we decided to jointly commission a piece of research that would paint this backdrop, engaging a team with a strong diversity of skills and experience, headed up by Atif Kubursi of Econometrics. The Econometrics team’s extensive experience in economic and transportation modelling would be complimented by Harry Cumming’s knowledge of rural dynamics and Rod MacRae’s food policy expertise. There was an on-going conversation between researchers and foundation staff as the work unfolded.

Unlike most artists painting a landscape, the researchers didn’t know what their painting would look like once completed. This made it very difficult to make a communications plan for the work, but kept the process exciting! The research set out to track major economic and environmental impacts of the food system in southern Ontario (a region where all three foundations were working). It found that local food impacts are largely positive — the food economy creates jobs and generates tax revenues.


En route to Paris: A low carbon economy is emerging in Ontario communities


Guest post by Mike Morrice, Executive Director, Sustainability CoLab

Disclaimer: the views expressed in the following blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Foundation.

“Why wouldn’t this work anywhere else?”

That was the question that inspired us to create Sustainability CoLab three years ago, followed quickly by the question that has kept us focused since: “And what influence could a whole network of these programs have together?”

CoLabTransSmallNow 15 months since CoLab launched—and as momentum builds towards Paris this December – we can begin to share how the low-carbon economy is taking root in communities across Ontario.

Today, the program that inspired us to create CoLab – Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI) – continues to thrive. The RCI brings together a roster of unlikely players employing 14% of Waterloo Region’s workforce in a shared sustainability journey: learning from each other, connected to a network of support, and reporting back on results against targets to reduce their carbon impact.


Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples will involve each and every one of us

Nicole_Blog author enThere are certain events that always stay with people, etched in their memories forever. For me, Wednesday, June 11, 2008 marks one such event. On that day, I was at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon alongside hundreds of survivors of Indian residential schools, as they listened to the prime minister make a statement of apology for the abuse and neglect that had been perpetrated in those schools for over a century.

I had begun working with survivors from the schools the previous year. I have always been drawn to work that enables me to have an impact on people’s lives. I think that is the reason why I ended up working in the public service. My first job was at Service Canada, where I worked on implementing the Common Experience Payment as part of the Indian Residential School Resolution.

Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools

Statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools in 2008


En Route to Paris: Climate Change Conference (COP21)


Nicolina_blog photo enParis. Climate Conference. These words will be heard more and more often in the coming months, and by December 2015, they’ll be in every TV, radio, Internet and printed news report. This event will mark the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Expected to draw 40 000 individuals, government delegates, and civil society representatives, the conference aims to “reach a universal and binding agreement to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.

Post 2016, Paris will also be a name associated with worldwide political commitments to bring down the global temperature rise through carbon-reduction targets. As a result, many columns, blogs and analyses will discuss whether these targets are realistic and attainable, the short-term economic costs of reaching these targets, and the long-term economic costs of failing to reach them. (more…)