On March 21, McGill’s sustainability team’s strategy plan, Vision 2020, was approved by the administration of McGill. The project has been given the greenlight to go ahead with a series of sustainable actions to be implemented at McGill over the next two years.
This is not the first time that Vision 2020, which is funded by the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF), has sought approval from the university’s administration. Approval for the project was denied by McGill last November.
This time around, the second draft – consisting of 14 actions – has been narrowed down significantly from the original Vision 2020 draft’s 51 actions.
Jessica Marais, McGill Office of Sustainability (MOOS) and Vision 2020 coordinator, explained that the concept of Vision 2020 began with a group of people wanting to meet certain goals in sustainability that were lacking at the university. “It was heavily shaped by community engagement that wasn’t just administrative,” Marais told The Daily in an interview, “It was a real community based on 35 different events, engaging staff, students, [and] profs. It was [a] community based and community sourced strategy […].”
For Josée Méthot, also a Vision 2020 coordinator, one of the biggest roadblocks for the project was that it took two years to conceptualize the first draft.
“One of the biggest challenges was learning that sustainability means different things to different people, that there is no real definition [of sustainability], and that the need to talk to a variety of people was crucial to understand[ing] even the concept of sustainability in a McGill or Montreal context.”
Marais added that it took so long because of the necessity of building trust in both partnership and in the community of 1,500 people who all participated more or less in this strategy.
The Vision 2020 team reached out to members of the McGill community and residents of the Milton-Parc community through a variety of educational events aimed at building trust within the community and creating a sense of shared experience – two elements that the team deems to be vital in promoting sustainability.
“It is crucial that sustainability is handled [by the community], and [that the system changes …] because it isn’t just an intellectual exercise but an imperative one,” said Lilith Wyatt, the former Sustainability Officer who coordinated and co-founded Vision 2020.
Wyatt explained that Vision 2020 is not just about a sustainability strategy. “There are tons of sustainability [projects]. There are tons of smart people here. Often, one of the most efficient ways to come up with a strategy is to take those smart people, put them in a room behind closed doors, and have them just write [… the strategy plan]. And we could have probably done that in a week.”
Wyatt noted that she was optimistic that “the bottom line of McGill’s mission in terms of sustainability is to learn the process of how to make changes for a flourishing future.”