The Climate Positive Energy initiative, an institutional strategic initiative at the University of Toronto (U of T), is partnering with the City of Toronto’s Environment and Climate Division to lead the development of a city-wide youth engagement strategy.

The work will enable youth-led leadership with an equity lens in climate action in Toronto, supporting the implementation of the city’s TransformTO Net Zero Climate Action Strategy, which provides a pathway to achieve net-zero emissions in Toronto by 2040.

As part of the research and development of TransformTO, it was identified that the creation and implementation of a youth-specific engagement strategy is critical to the adoption of the city-wide actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

On March 3, Climate Positive Energy attended the Adams Sustainability Celebration. Hosted by the Committee on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability (CECCS), the annual Adams Sustainability Celebration is a tribute to the growing community of sustainability-minded students, faculty, and staff at U of T. MissionE was the first place winner. The farmer-first SaaS platform recommends field-level optimal fertilizer applications for farmers. Not only does the platform help farmers save money on excess fertilizers, it also reduces nitrous oxide emissions while helping Canada stay on track with emissions targets. Image credit: Climate Positive Energy.

“Our youth are the inheritors of a changing planet,” says Shatha Qaqish-Clavering, director of strategy and operations at Climate Positive Energy. “By engaging them in the creation and implementation of climate action strategies, we empower them to shape a better future for themselves and generations to come.”

The City of Toronto and Climate Positive Energy will work collaboratively to support the development of a strategy that:

  • Considers an anti-oppression equity lens that prioritizes equity-deserving communities, reconciliation, and accessibility while building meaningful partnerships
  • Is framed around positive change and opportunities for a better future, being mindful of climate anxiety and youth mental health
  • Will inform the formation of a city-wide youth-academic partnership hub and support future climate action youth-led pilot projects; and
  • Will be co-designed and developed with youth representatives
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The four-phase project will see the research team complete a jurisdictional scan and review of relevant best-practices to inform the approach for a city-wide youth climate action strategy. Once this phase is completed, a co-design with key youth-led or youth focused organizations will be developed, followed by a city-wide consultation process utilizing identified support options to inform the youth engagement strategy. The results of the research and consultations will be presented in a written report, which is expected to be completed next year. The report will continue to inform key recommendations for youth climate action engagement in Toronto.

The project team is composed of eight researchers from U of T led by principal investigator Laura Tozer, an assistant professor in the department of physical and environmental sciences at U of T Scarborough. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from seven different departments and divisions will be working with Tozer on this project.

“We’re looking forward to working with young people from across the City of Toronto to understand how climate action matters in their lives and what their visions are for a zero carbon Toronto,” said Tozer. “Young people are already a driving force for climate action. This project is about empowering youth engagement in climate action to accelerate it while also addressing inequalities in our city.”

Written with files from U of T’s Bulletin Brief. Featured image: Celine Xiao, MIE PhD candidate (left) and Ainka Jess, Institutional Strategic Initiatives Communications Advisor (Right). Image credit: Climate Positive Energy.

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