Barb Turley-McIntyreBarbara Turley-McIntyre, Retired Vice President, Sustainability and Citizenship, The Co-operators Group Limited, (MEB ’14, Environment and Business)

Barbara Turley-McIntyre (MEB ’14) is a leader in the field of corporate sustainable development, as well as a Canadian pioneer in the emerging climate change adaptation.

Up until her recent retirement, Barb was vice president of Sustainability and Citizenship at The Co-operators Group Limited, a $45 billion Canadian-owned insurance, and financial services company.

Through her leadership, The Co-operators has embedded sustainability in all areas of business decision-making, action and process. They’ve officially endorsed all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, earning the firm recognition as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers and Top 10 rankings on Corporate Knights’ “50 Best Corporate Citizens” list every year since 2010, and two first-place rankings, most recently in 2019.

Barb is co-founder of Partners for Action (P4A), an applied research network to advance flood resiliency in Canadian communities. Its creation was part of her Masters of Environment and Business program and sprung from her vision to bring together influential stakeholders with applied research and knowledge mobilization to influence Canadian flood policy and practice as well as representatives from the business community and three levels of government.

“Flooding affects not only the environment but also the economy and society as a whole,” Barb says. “Given the increasing flooding events in Canada, there is an urgent need to develop long-term solutions to protect our cities and towns and our citizens. This effort calls for courageous leaders in business and government to plan for the future.”

With the support of The Co-operators Group and Farm Mutual, P4A now lives in the Faculty of Environment where it facilitates innovative research related to flood resiliency in Canada. Their work has yielded new and useful insights into the challenges and issues confronting the country and helped drive change by translating research into accessible knowledge for Canadians and key decision-makers.

A socially-distanced family at a picnic tableBarb and her family at her 'Covid-style' retirement party

Given the increasing importance of this topic, climate adaptation requires decision-makers to consider climate change hazards when planning, preparing and rebuilding communities. To this end, Barb has been a tireless advocate within the insurance sector and in working with federal, provincial, and municipal governments.  Frequently over the past decade, she has convened meetings bringing together leaders of business, government and academia to develop an understanding of the challenges associated with climate change and to create action plans to limit associated risk.  Much of this work she led before climate change became ‘fashionable.’

Beyond climate adaptation, Barb has been a champion in advancing the Principles of Sustainable Insurance (PSI) in the insurance sector.  She also served on the United Nation's Environment Program– Financial Initiative’s Global Steering Committee supporting the advancement of sustainable finance. Her leadership in this area has not only been “top of class” within Canada but has also extended to North America and Europe.

A steadfast supporter of the Faculty and the University of Waterloo, Barb offers her time as a sessional instructor in the MEB program and represents the Co-operators Group Ltd. on P4A’s Advisory Committee contributing her subject matter expertise practical knowledge.