Climate change is the challenge of our times and elected municipal officials, staff and community partners are gathering this year to lead the way. Assembling in Ottawa and online, from February 7 to 10, the Federation of Canadian Municipality (FCM) Sustainable Communities Conference 2023: Connecting for the future (SCC), is Canada’s leading sustainability conference for municipal practitioners, setting the stage for a robust conversation on solutions to environmental challenges.

The main themes of this year’s conference are climate readiness for communities, sustainable tools and processes for cities and local elected officials as agents of change to continue leading the way to a net zero future.

This year’s conference is an opportunity for municipal leaders, the sustainability sector and federal officials to continue having important conversations around making Canada more sustainable. The conference will feature key local trends including energy self-sufficiency, and embedding reconciliation and equity into community sustainability and climate action. There will also be an opportunity to explore business and financial cases.

“As officials of the order of government closest to Canadians’ needs and most aware of their challenges, municipal leaders understand the impact of climate change on communities across the country. Wildfires, droughts, floods, ice storms, really extreme weather of all sorts is happening with increasing frequency and intensity and local governments feel the effects first,” said Taneen Rudyk, president of FCM.

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Taneen Rudyk, president of FCM. Featured image credit: Jude Krasta/Twitter.

“Municipalities have influence over half of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and are key to meeting Canada’s climate goals. This is why this conference is so important. Collaboration and sharing solutions are the heart of this conference. Local leaders can bring back what they learn to their communities, whether it is pressing environmental issues like meeting net-zero targets, building a greener economy or preventing the impacts of the next destructive climate events.”

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After a day of pre-conference training and study tours, the conference officially kicked off on February 8 with a keynote by Søren Hermansen, CEO and Director of the SAMSO energy academy, who presented the methods and results from his work to make the island of Samsø, Denmark self-sufficient and carbon neutral starting in 2007.

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The Local Democracy for Net-Zero Transitions panel is moderated by FCM CEO Carole Saab, and features Saint-Miche Mayor Laurence Lavign, Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell, and Whitehorse Mayor Laura Abott. Image Credit: FCM.

Today, amongst other activities and conversations, an expert panel will reflect on local democracy for net-zero transitions. On February 10, there will be a panel discussion about the economic advantage of climate action featuring Chris Henderson, CEO of Indigenous Clean Energy, Chris Rickett, Director of Economic Growth, Culture and Entrepreneurship at City of Markham & Founder of My Main Street Initiative and Amarjeet Sohi, Mayor of the City of Edmonton.

“Communities across Canada are stepping up and joining the front lines of climate action by finding innovative ways of greening their communities to reduce emissions. I applaud local officials for using the sustainable tools and processes at their disposal to continue leading the way to a net-zero future. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is a key partner, through investments that are making our communities more resilient to the growing hazards of climate change,” said Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

For further information, visit the Sustainable Communities Conference program.

Featured image credit: FCM – Green Municipal Fund

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