Changing our systems to ensure a sustainable world

People and Places | Strategy 3: Thriving Communities
Theme: Collaboration
Photo credit: Jairph, Unsplash

Change in existing social systems is the only way to ensure long term sustainability and address climate change. Efforts such as composting, carbon pricing and electric vehicle usage, although praiseworthy, simply aren’t enough to combat climate change in the long run. This is reflected in the alarming fact that the US and Canada has reached Overshoot Day for 2022, the date each year when North Americans have already consumed our share of Earth’s renewable resources for the year, on March 13th, only ten weeks into the new year.

This train of thought led Dr. Kai Chan, a professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, to establish CoSphere, an online forum for education, collaboration, and action toward system change. Dr. Chan describes system change as a new, transformative way to think about sustainability in government and corporate decision processes, as well as the enactment of new laws and changes in society.

Dr. Chan believes two groups of people deserve special attention in the conversation of system change. The first are young activists, who represent the demographic most likely to be affected by climate change’s destructive effects. The second is those who know the science, which includes researchers, academics and university students. “It’s our role to communicate what we know to help direct the changes in laws, policies, and management needed for sustainability, and to keep learning to enrich our understanding of these complex problems”, says Dr. Chan.

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Facilitating sustainability and wellbeing through renewal and innovation in learning environments, operations and infrastructure is a top priority in the UBC Strategic Plan, defined under Strategy 3: Thriving Communities.