Waterloo, May 29, 2024 — Researchers, faculty, students, and staff gathered to attend an engaging presentation by the City of Waterloo’s Strategic Initiatives division. The event offered an in-depth look at the city’s integrated approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change. A networking lunch reception followed the presentation, fostering further discussions on collaborative opportunities.

Speakers Highlight Strategic Climate Initiatives

Sandy Little, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the City of Waterloo, and Ena Ristic, the Senior Sustainability Officer, led the presentation. Their insights shed light on the transformational changes driven by the recently approved Corporate Climate Action Plan.

Little, with over 18 years of experience, emphasized the importance of big-picture thinking to address complex community challenges. She discussed the city’s strategic plan, focusing on how it connects with sustainability and climate change, and strategic partnerships. Little noted that having a dedicated and centrally-positioned staff leadership position has been pivotal in developing and implementing initiatives that enhance operational and service excellence.

Ristic highlighted the city’s commitment to creating a resilient and low-carbon future. Her work involves integrating sustainability and climate change considerations into all city operations, from asset management to community gardens and financing. Ristic’s approach aims to embed environmental consciousness into the very fabric of the municipality’s functions.

Amelia Clarke, Ena Ristic, and Sandy Little standing in front of Waterloo Climate Institute banner

Amelia Clarke, Waterloo Climate Institute member and Professor in the Faculty of Environment, Ena Ristic, Senior Sustainability Officer, and Sandy Little, Director, Strategic Initiatives at the City of Waterloo.

Participants sitting in a gallery seating listening to a slide presentation
Participants discussing at a table over the networking lunch.

Participants listening to Amelia Clarke, Sandy Little and Ena Ristic share insights on municipal climate action.

Challenges and Opportunities

The City of Waterloo provided a high-level overview of the city's strategic plans and delved into the specifics of the Corporate Climate Action Plan. Little and Ristic outlined the challenges and opportunities inherent in their climate initiatives, emphasizing the need for more research collaboration. Part of the presentation provided research questions of interest to the City which were shared as discussion points for the networking lunch that followed.

Partnership with the Community

The networking lunch reception allowed attendees to discuss potential areas for research collaboration. The gathering fostered an environment of shared learning and partnership. As Waterloo Climate Institute continues to support collaboration for climate action, follow up from the event will help to stimulate concrete pathways to research collaboration with the city.