As the University of Waterloo continues to navigate unfolding COVID-19 situation, the Sustainability Office has moved all activities virtual to prioritize health and safety while continuing to support the campus community. For our campus community and partners:

Events: All events, workshops, and other in-person activities are cancelled. We have alerted all registered participants for events. For some workshops, (i.e. the Sustainability Certificate for employees), we are exploring options for virtual participation and will advise registrants directly as those decisions are made.

Contact: The physical office will be closed as staff are working remotely. Please call or email any of our team members to stay in touch - we are happy to connect.

In-person meetings: All in-person meetings with students or employees will be cancelled or made virtual. We will contact meeting participants with further details, but we are well set-up to connect!

TravelWise Services: GRT has suspended purchases of all new Corporate Passes. Current pass holders can continue to manage and renew their cards online. Please follow GRT alerts for service schedule and route changes and practice social distancing and proper hand washing as much as possible. TravelWise has also suspended carpool matching on until further notice. The Emergency Ride Home program remains active.

For all University of Waterloo information regarding COVID-19, please visit the University's information page.

Guest blog: Take climate action now!

Climate Action may be lucky number 13 in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but there are zero paths to meeting the other goals without addressing it. Climate change affects each aspect of sustainable development, from inequality, to economic growth, built and natural environments, and, critically, your health.

The University of Waterloo is supporting research and education to elucidate these links to help achieve SDG #13. However, more work is urgently needed to understand how climate change and climate action affects our health, our economy, and our equality.

Education and awareness

Both in Canada and abroad, we need to understand the health impacts of climate change and climate policy. This understanding can improve resilience, increase adaptive capacity, inform mitigation, improve education and awareness, and reduce inequality.

However, to reap these benefits, we need to close significant knowledge gaps. For example, we need to better understand how climate change and climate policy affects human health via air pollution. Climate change can worsen air pollution, which is the single greatest environmental health risk factor, and is attributed to millions of deaths annually.

Group brainstorming session

Our health and climate change

Climate change can increase these risks of death, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, especially among the poorest and most vulnerable. Research has shown that climate policy can clean the air by reducing pollutants that are emitted from the same source, reducing incidences of asthma attacks and heart attacks, thereby yielding savings in health care costs that can equal the cost of the climate policy. Thus, climate policy can have major, if indirect, health benefits.

In spite of these significant impacts and potential benefits, there remains relatively little research available to support decision makers on how to integrate climate change into national policy, or to protect their vulnerable populations. In particular, we need more consistent studies to draw broader conclusions, and locally-relevant policy analysis that can link decisions to budgets and human outcomes.

A call to action

What can you do? Support and participate in research and education about climate change, especially as it relates to health, both at Waterloo and in your community. To learn more about the research on this topic, you can visit or follow @BeckySaariSustainable Development Goals logos

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