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Addressing the Challenges Posed by Climate Change

April 29, 2024

5 minute read
Post contributed by Nitish Minhas BBA, Underwriter, Commercial Financing, Assiniboine Credit Union
Leadership Winnipeg Class of 2023-2024

We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. – Barack Obama

Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, with far-reaching impacts on businesses, communities, and the environment. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world. The last decade was the warmest on record globally, with the global average temperature 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, and extreme weather events have become more frequent and intense due to climate change. Businesses play a crucial role in addressing this challenge, both in terms of reducing their own emissions and supporting broader societal efforts to transition to a low-carbon economy.

On April 19, 2024, me and my peers were privileged to participate in a Leadership Winnipeg session hosted at the University of Winnipeg, the school from where I graduated, evoking a flood of fond memories. The session focused on the pressing issues of climate change and global warming, shedding light on the commendable efforts of numerous organizations in Winnipeg to make a positive impact, one step at a time, in their own unique ways. We were treated to insightful presentations by subject matter experts who shared their visions, imparted invaluable lessons, and equipped us with resources to address the challenges posed by climate change. Among the distinguished organizations involved were:

  • Green Action Centre: The Green Action Centre is a non-profit organization based in Winnipeg that works to help Manitobans reduce their environmental impact. The organization focuses on promoting composting, with the goal of diverting 40% of waste from landfills. The Green Action Centre offers a range of services to support composting, including providing tips and resources to get started, delivering educational presentations, and working with homes, schools, and communities to make composting more practical and accessible for everyone.
  • Diversity Food: Diversity Food Services is a social enterprise that operates the food services at multiple sites in Winnipeg, including the University of Winnipeg campus. Established as a joint venture between SEED Winnipeg and the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation, Diversity Food Services is designed around the four pillars of sustainability: cultural vitality, economic health, environmental responsibility, and social equity. The organization provides high-quality, locally sourced, and ethnically diverse food options, while also creating employment opportunities and training for immigrants, newcomers, and Indigenous people.
  • Prairie Climate Centre: The Prairie Climate Centre is a research and outreach organization based at the University of Winnipeg that focuses on climate change impacts and adaptation in the Canadian Prairies. The Centre conducts research, develops climate change projections, and provides resources and tools to help communities, businesses, and governments in Manitoba and across the Prairies understand and respond to the challenges posed by a changing climate. The Prairie Climate Centre offers a range of services, including climate data analysis, climate analysis, vulnerability assessments, and the development of adaptation strategies to help organizations and communities build resilience.
  • University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation (UWCRC): UWCRC is a not-for-profit charitable organization established in 2005 to support the development and sustainability of the University of Winnipeg campus and surrounding community. UWCRC approaches sustainability through four pillars: environmental, economic, social, and cultural. The organization has spearheaded over $200 million in new campus development, with all buildings designed to achieve LEED Silver status or better.
  • Assiniboine Credit Union (ACU): ACU is the only financial institution in Manitoba to be a Certified B Corporation®. As a B Corp, ACU has met the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. ACU is guided by the principles of “values-based banking”, meaning the credit union remains financially strong while being socially, environmentally, and ethically responsible. ACU uses its expertise and resources to foster self-reliant and sustainable communities, considering the impact of its business decisions on employees, members, the environment, and the communities it serves. ACU has been recognized as a “Best for The World™” B Corp for its exceptional impact on its community, customers, and governance, ranking it in the top 5% of all B Corps for its sustainable business practices.

During our educational excursions of the facility, we had the privilege of touring both the University of Winnipeg silo and boiler room as well as the Diversity Foods Kitchen. In each location, it became abundantly clear that both these organizations are deeply invested in nurturing a sustainable future for all. Thanks to Leadership Winnipeg, we became more aware of the challenges people worldwide are grappling with because of human-induced climate change. We wrapped up the day with a thought-provoking speech by Brendan Reimer of Assiniboine Credit Union, emphasizing the crucial role that for-profit entities play in shaping the sustainable future we envision. As we left the room, we carried with us a heightened awareness of the reality of climate change and our individual roles in securing a sustainable future for generations to come.

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