According to GlobeScan, a research consultancy, more than 50 per cent of Canadians consistently identify depletion of natural resources, fresh water shortages, loss of animal and plant species and air pollution as “very serious” issues. Among those most committed to sustainability are Canadian youth who are demanding socially responsible campuses, workplaces and products.
Now, Riley Pollom of Drumheller, studying at Memorial University of Newfoundland, is preparing to lend his energy to addressing these serious issues. Pollom is among 165 college and university students chosen from more than 850 applicants across Canada to participate in IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership.
“Impact is an amazing opportunity for me to share ideas and network with other young people from around Canada with similar interests in helping society shift to a more sustainable, or as I like to put it, a more thriveable future. Our generation has a lot of immense challenges and opportunities ahead and it's events such as this that can foster progressive change and leadership."
David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, will once again be the keynote speaker at the IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership.
Conference participants are assigned systems groups within which they will work. These include areas such as food, transportation, and education. Pollom has been assigned to the water systems group where he will be working on water stewardship and brainstorming ideas on how to raise awareness about water use issues.
Pollom will join his colleagues at the University of Guelph campus from September 15 to 18, 2011 where they will team up with experts to develop real sustainability solutions to take back to their campuses, communities, and current and future workplaces. The participants, ages 19 to 25, represent 70 Canadian colleges and universities, multiple backgrounds, perspectives and fields of study. The multi-disciplinary approach is intended to help spark creativity and launch broad networks.
“The Co-operators launched the program in 2009 simply because Canada’s young people have the most at stake in this debate and no one has more focus and energy than they do,” said Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators. “We wanted to give them the opportunity to interact and work collaboratively to come up with plans, programs and commitments to create a more sustainable society.”
Prior to the conference, participants must complete an online sustainability course created by The Natural Step Canada, find a mentor within their pre-assigned system, and interview them to begin exploring the sustainability issues within the system. During the conference, participants will apply this knowledge and work with national experts on systems, approaches and solutions. After the conference, participants will go on to lead community sustainability initiatives, some with the help of grants from The Co-operators Foundation - Impact! Fund.
IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership is a partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, The Natural Step Canada, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, Wilfrid Laurier University, Lambton College, Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario, AIESEC, and the Network for Business Sustainability.