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Vision 2020 sustainability strategy launches at Y-intersection

Project moves from consultation of students to reforming McGill’s outlook on sustainability

Last Thursday, Vision 2020, a sustainability initiative spearheaded by the McGill Office of Sustainability, launched a program that hopes to revamp McGill as a model for sustainability by the year 2020. Staff and volunteers from the McGill University Office of Sustainability (MOOS) tabled at the Y-intersection on October 16, hoping to raise awareness of the initiative within the student population.

Vision 2020 is a project that started two years ago, and has, for a while now, been consulting students at various events held around campus on what they think a sustainable McGill would look like.

“[We were] asking people, ‘Imagine the year 2020 and imagine McGill is the leader in sustainability, what does that look like?’” Julia Solomon, MOOS Senior Communications Officer, told The Daily.

“We at the Office of Sustainability had no preconceived idea of what was going to end up in the strategy. All of the ideas came from the community and then were sort of sorted and distilled, and arranged into what you see now.”

Solomon explained that there are five categories in the Vision 2020 campaign: research, education, connectivity, operations, and administration and governance. Each of these categories is a grouping of ideas that were brought forth during the consultation sessions and represent aspects of an overall vision for sustainability at McGill, she said.

“The vision and goals are ambitious and kind of idealistic and expected to endure for a long time,” said Solomon.

Solomon stated that the main challenge in preparing for the Vision 2020 project was the difficulty of consulting a large portion of the student and staff populations face-to-face.

“The process of doing that in a way that felt authentic took time and investment of resources,” Solomon said.

Though the project is long-term, Solomon said that MOOS will be taking more short-term actions to meet the goals set out by consulting students and reporting to both Senate and the Board of Governors at least every two years.

“The actions […] are over a two-year time horizon,” said Solomon. “We picked them to be more concrete, more realistic, and things that we expect to report back on in the next two years. […] Not all of them will likely be completely finished, but we want to have something to say and I think that provides an opportunity to advance the conversation and talk about what’s next.”

While traditional actions to improve sustainability will be taken, such as those involving waste, energy, and the environment, many of the actions that Vision 2020 will be taking in the next two years involve research and academics. Solomon told The Daily that one focus that interested her personally was connecting and supporting sustainability research projects that are already ongoing at McGill, by giving them a platform for collaboration.

“The faculty fellows program in sustainability will bring together faculty members who are interested in incorporating sustainability in their courses. [We will] somehow be helping to figure out how to do that, and [creating] some space to develop it,” said Solomon. The initiative will also be looking to create more community spaces out of less-used indoor and outdoor space.

—With files from Igor Sadikov