Speaker: James Nugent
Building a grassroots coalition for the green economy
Linking equity, poverty, jobs and sustainability through community benefits agreements and community-based, participatory research
How can we solve wicked problems such as climate change and urban congestion in ways that simultaneously generate socially-inclusive economic opportunities and broad-based political support? Massive public infrastructure investments are needed in the next 20 years to expand public transit, generate renewable energy, adapt to climate change (e.g., flood mitigation systems), and build new affordable public housing while energy retro-fitting old housing stock. This seminar discusses “community benefits agreements” (CBAs) as one way of tying these public investments to social procurement and the creation of targeted jobs and training for equity-seeking and historically disadvantaged groups. Dr. Nugent will discuss the success and limitations of a four-year community-based, participatory research project that helped bring together a coalition of labour, community and environmental groups to win Ontario's first-ever CBA framework for the construction of the $6.6 billion Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Toronto.
This seminar discusses social movement coalitions as unique spaces for intersectional learning and knowledge production that might help us transcend still-dominant political discourses that assume trade-offs between economic, environmental and social justice goals. These trade-offs have been at the heart of ongoing controversies in Canada (and elsewhere) over energy pipelines, hydroelectric dams and carbon pricing mechanisms. Drawing on insights from the struggles of community benefits coalitions, we will end the seminar by discussing potential strategies for ordinary people to assert their visions for socially just cities and progressive transitions to a green economy.
Dr. James Nugent is a Lecturer at the University of Waterloo in the Faculty of Environment. He has spent more than ten years helping to build labour-community-environmental coalitions aimed at realizing a socially just transition to a green economy. He was a founding member of the Toronto Community Benefits Network.