The importance of sustainability

October 10, 2021

Post contributed by Norie Cunningham, Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba

Sustainability was the topic for our last Leadership Winnipeg session which was very fitting given that climate change is a critical ecological issue. We learned about why sustainability is becoming increasingly important for people, businesses, and communities.

We started the session with a presentation from Clare MacKay, Vice-President Strategic Initiatives and Executive Director of The Forks Foundation. She provided a history of The Forks and spoke about their initiatives on becoming a zero-waste entity. This included information on their geothermal heat pump system, converting vegetable oil into biofuel, and their composting and recycling systems. Dave Pancoe, Manager Special Projects, took us on a tour of the composting area and explained the process of composting food waste from The Forks.

Our morning ended with Josep Seras Gubert, Robin Bryan and Beth McKechnie who spoke about The Green Action Centre’s focus on environmental education and taking climate action. We learned about green audits in assessing, understanding, and changing a company’s climate impact and Compost Winnipeg, a compost pick-up service for residents and businesses. Since 2016, Compost Winnipeg has diverted over 2.6 million kg of organic waste from the landfill.

In the afternoon, Christey Allen, Research Manager from the Prairie Climate Centre talked to us about making climate change accessible to people by communicating information through their research, videos, and Climate Atlas. The Climate Atlas (climateatlas.ca) is a resource for Canadians about climate change and its impacts from a national down to a local level. Brett Hudson, a Climate Centre Research Associate, spoke about building climate change resiliency (the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to climate events) by integrating indigenous knowledge into western science and helping indigenous communities incorporate western technology. This leads to the protection of ecosystems, culture and identity, and improvements in land development/management.

Robert Elms, President of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association, shared his knowledge of and experience with driving electric vehicles (EVs). There were many questions and a great discussion on EV technology, increasing EV availability and the shift of consumer demand to EVs.

I want to thank all the speakers who took the time and presented to our group as well as Ellen Kornelsen and Doneta Brotchie for putting this in-person session together! It was an inspiring session hearing from people passionate about sustainability in Winnipeg on how it is financially viable and essential for the environment. Individual climate actions have a great impact collectively.