Climate Action annual report"> Climate Action" /> Climate Action – Colleges and Institutes Canada Annual Report

Climate Action

Over the past year, Canada has grappled with various climate-related challenges, from rampant wildfires in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec to escalating heatwaves and floods, each exacerbating air quality issues and causing significant damage to ecosystems and communities. These events underscore the urgent need for Canada to enhance its mitigation and adaptation efforts to address the growing climate crisis.

In response, CICan has been charting a new course for our climate action initiatives. We’ve been bolstering the work of our members to enhance green skills and literacy, help businesses and community organizations find innovative solutions to lower their carbon footprints and plan for sustainability and energy efficiency when building new infrastructure, both on and off campus. We’ve also been highlighting the role of colleges in driving climate-resilient infrastructure to Parliamentarians via the House of Commons Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure & Communities.

Creating green pathways for small communities

As part of our Green Pathways for Small Communities program, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, our members collaborated with employers and community organizations in 14 rural, remote, and northern communities over the past year. Our members’ efforts focused on identifying skills gaps, enhancing green workforce planning, and developing tailored training to support the community’s transition towards a greener economy. Close collaboration with employers ensures they have the skilled workforce necessary to grow and remain competitive in emerging sectors.

For the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, supported by the Oshki Wenjack Education and Training Institute, Green Pathways for Small Communities helped them address home maintenance challenges by training community members, leading to energy and cost savings.

Employee upskilling is vital for small-to-mid-size businesses to innovate and compete in remote areas with limited workforce options.

– Participating Employer

Raising awareness of climate change on campuses

In 2023-24, thanks to funding from Environmental and Climate Change Canada, CICan launched a national initiative challenging our members to rally their students, staff, and faculty to deepen their understanding of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the actionable steps we can take to combat climate change. The ImpAct-Climate Challenge rewarded student climate leaders and recognized institutions’ exceptional engagement and efforts to mobilize their communities toward sustainability.

The challenge engaged over 50 of our members. Eighty-two per cent of participants reported learning new information, and 90% felt inspired to integrate sustainable practices into their daily lives.

Alongside our members, CICan also recognized the urgent need to reevaluate our staff transportation habits and practices to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Through our green action plan, we identified programs, policies, and infrastructure improvements that will be monitored annually for progress.

While many members across the country are already taking action, we took it one step further by creating a guide to share valuable lessons from colleges and institutes across the country. The guide provides resources for members interested in promoting sustainable transportation on campuses and inspires them to implement successful initiatives from other Canadian campuses.

Driving sustainable climate action around the world

In September 2023, we officially wrapped up our Pacific Alliance (PA) Education for Employment Program. Through this program, CICan and its members worked with officials from 34 different ministries, secretariats and government agencies in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru to strengthen and train their staff on environmental sustainability issues. This led to improved natural resource management and biodiversity protection in the extractive sector.

And, with the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP), CICan signed in April 2023 the World Congress Montreal Declaration, a global statement of sustainability, to reinforce and strengthen our commitment to building a more sustainable and equitable world. The declaration engages the two organizations and their members worldwide to maximize their collective impact on inclusive and equitable education and training that responds to future economic, environmental and social challenges.