News  McGill’s quest to become a sustainable campus

A look into Vision 2020

On the evening of November 14, staff and students gathered in the McGill bookstore for the launch of the first draft of McGill’s sustainability strategy – otherwise known as Vision 2020.

Vision 2020 is a consultation and planning process that aims to set a sustainability strategy for the McGill community. It was established in Winter 2012 by McGill’s Office of Sustainability and funded by the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF). In Vision 2020’s 2013 Vision and Goals Report, its mandate is described as the process of turning McGill into an institution that “walks the walk of sustainability in all that [McGill does].”

Lilith Wyatt, SPF Coordinator and a founding member of Vision 2020, told The Daily that she was thrilled with the turnout and with the support. “The coolest part about Vision 2020 is that it’s not just for the community but genuinely from the McGill community.”

Vision 2020 has not always generated such successful results. Earlier in 2013, the project published a failure report outlining Vision 2020’s own missteps. “We got a little bit caught up in being a campus darling,” wrote Julia Solomon, senior communications specialist at University Services. “We let [visibility] distract us from the more basic questions: […] Are we taking advantage of this moment in the spotlight to communicate clearly about why sustainability, this process, and goals built through it, are important?”

Wyatt also reflected on these mistakes. “A university can’t be excellent if it doesn’t publicly fail and learn from it.”

Vision 2020’s first draft of the Sustainability Strategy has been met with positive feedback from other McGill organizations, such as funding from the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE).

When discussing the projects’ dialogue with the senior administrative team of the University, Wyatt admitted, “At first what we heard from [the senior administrators] was hard for us to hear because it was a bit of a change to our original dates; however, the bottom line was that they were actually really supportive.”

Wyatt emphasized that McGill has had a long history of demanding a more sustainable campus, saying that, in the past, “there were student grassroot movements, but they were totally disconnected from high-level policies.”

The development of relationships between administration and student movements on the topic of sustainability is key in the success of Vision 2020. Wyatt called this partnership “really important in the DNA of the McGill Office of Sustainability. It has always been a partnership between the two – especially in a campus context which has held a lot of tension between the students and the administration, so it’s always been a place where students and staff have been able to find common ground.”

When asked what’s next for Vision 2020, Wyatt said, “Right now there are 51 actions, and the administration has asked us to narrow it down to a few priority actions.”