Being part of the solution to the environmental crisis.
Setting and achieving measurable goals, having a positive effect on the planet, its resources and its inhabitants, now and for the future.
Acquiring a skillset in sustainability offers you the opportunity to make this difference in the world.
Every day, we are surrounded by news and advertising about “Going green”, “Eco-friendly” and “Environmental awareness”. While these are all praiseworthy pursuits, they are vaguely defined. Media and marketers have stretched the definitions of these terms and use them to promote almost any product, service or activity.
Sustainability, however, has a clear definition. Companies, corporations and all levels of government can be held accountable on whether they are achieving their goals in sustainable production and consumption. As such, a skillset in sustainability will allow you to assess the requirements of your employer and/or clients, help design a course of action, and follow it through until the goals are successfully accomplished.
What is sustainability?
Sustainability is the proper use of the environment and its resources so they are not permanently damaged or depleted and will continue to be available for future generations.
Everywhere we see the misuse and abuse of our natural world. Forests and fuels are diminished, oil is spilled, plastics fill the oceans, shorelines erode, air and water are polluted, the list is endless. Yet the earth and its resources are finite. The people who can solve these problems and resolve the needs of the planet are very much needed and in demand.
Active players in sustainability
- The Canadian Government created the Federal Sustainable Development Act in 20081 and published A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada in 2010 “to address climate change and air quality, maintain water quality and availability, and protect our natural heritage… to balance environmental issues with economic and social considerations”. It has now been updated to 2022.2
- Across Canada, local governments, businesses and organizations are partnering with educational institutions to seek a balance between economic progress and sustainability in their communities.3 The Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), a United Nations-supported initiative, raises the profile of sustainability in schools around the world while drawing attention to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.4
Meanwhile, most national and multi-national corporations are also involved in the sustainability of their processes, products and services and/or have launched massive efforts to improve our environment. In Canada, over 50,000 professionals devote more than half of their work time to activities related to economic, social and environmental sustainability.5
- With a stated goal "to be the best and most sustainable eco-efficient beer company in the world", Labatt Breweries announced their sustainability goals, including a focus on agriculture, water stewardship, 100% returnable or recyclable packaging, and climate action (using 100% per cent renewable electricity and a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions).6
- Loblaw Companies Limited is one of the first major retail organizations to introduce electric vehicles to its trucking fleet, recently unveiling a truck capable of making commercial deliveries with zero carbon emissions.6
- TD Bank Group announced a $100-billion investment program for the development of the low-carbon economy, including lending to companies and projects with low-carbon operations and supporting local environmental projects in communities across the country.6
- Apple relies on wind and solar power to run on 100% green energy at its production facilities and has pledged to replant 27,000 mangrove trees along the coastline of Colombia. These trees “scrub” carbon from the atmosphere and reduce coastal erosion.7
- Bosch has dedicated 50% of its R&D budget to create and support technology, universities and research programs focused on sustainability.7
From small businesses to mega-corporations, from the federal government to the most modest of municipalities, from organizations to every level of education, all require guidance and assistance with their sustainability programs. A skill set in sustainability can allow you to benefit from professional opportunities that are only increasing.
How to increase your knowledge and acquire a skill set in sustainability?
This new skill set is being offered across Canada through sustainability programs and courses like the one offered by McMaster University Continuing Education. Look for programs taught by experienced practitioners who take an encompassing approach, allowing you to:
Examine sustainability and its impact on our environmental, economic and societal systems
Learn to create a whole systems examination of how individuals, communities and businesses can responsibly interact with our environment
Discover the best practices in sustainable business leadership
Master the strategies that businesses can use to plan, develop and execute sustainable actions
With lectures, presentations and group discussions, sustainability programs let you explore collaborative theories and approaches for the shared responsibility of consumers and product producers. More importantly, you’ll understand the impact of people and profit on our planet and what we can do to improve this interaction.
You’ll also get the chance to learn practical tools, strategies and techniques that you can immediately apply to your organization’s sustainable plans. Mastering a sustainability skill set can lead to some of the most important and satisfying careers available today. Sustainability is a global challenge, but it may also be the business opportunity of the century.
1 Federal Sustainable Development Act (S.C. 2008, c. 33)
2 A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada
3 Corporate Social Responsibility in Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions:
The Current and Ideal State of CSR in Teaching, Research and Partnering – pages 16-17
By: Coro Strandberg, President, Strandberg Consulting
4 Corporate Social Responsibility in Canadian Post-Secondary Institutions:
The Current and Ideal State of CSR in Teaching, Research and Partnering – page 15
By: Coro Strandberg, President, Strandberg Consulting
5 Eco Canada
7 Canada’s Greenest Employers?
McMaster University Continuing Education Sustainability Program