Global Solutions Conference: Pathways to Local Change

Saturday, March 16, 2019 8:30 am - 4:30 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

A one-day conference to showcase different pathways to achieve sustainable development and promote collaboration through the UN SDGs

Through a keynote presentation, panel of experts, and interactive workshops, the event aims to equip you with a deeper understanding of sustainable development and the transformative power it can have in making an impact in the communities we live in.

The conference is student-led and is being supported by SDSN Canada, Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI), UWaterloo's Sustainability Office, and the University of Waterloo.


Impact Alliance

8:30 AM | Breakfast, Registration, Networking

9:30 AM | Opening Ceremony

10:00 AM | Keynote and Q&A

10:45 AM | Audience Engagement Activity

11:00 AM | Panel Discussion and Q&A

12:00 PM | Lunch

1:00 PM | Breakout Session Part 1

2:00 PM | Booth Fair and Refreshments

2:45 PM | Breakout Session Part 2

3:45 PM | Report Back and Pitch

4:30 PM | Closing Ceremony

Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in one of seven breakout sessions. Read these descriptions for more information:


Policy Jam  |  Bridging Gaps in Local Networks and Beyond  |  Taking it to the UN  |  Civic Engagement in Waterloo Region  |  What is Sustainability?  |  Solving Problems Using Systems and Design Thinking  |  Inspiring Change Through Art and Communication

Session 1: Policy Jam

Recently, Canada submitted its Voluntary National Review to the United Nations on the country’s progress implementing the SDGs. A new body within the government has also been created to report on these goals and further provide support. However, is Canada making progress across the 17 SDGs? What discrepancies exist within our societies and how can support from the federal to provincial government be lent to the public to support grassroots efforts?

This session will focus on gathering ideas, feedback and recommendations on how the government can meaningfully work with organizations and individuals. The information and comments will be documented and forwarded to the Canadian government to assist in their development of a national strategy on the SDGs.

Session 2: Bridging Gaps in our Local Networks and Beyond

The Canadian branch of the worldwide Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) recently became home to the University of Waterloo in May 2018 to highlight and connect the various sustainability projects across the country. SDSN Youth representatives will facilitate a discussion on how you can be a part of the leading projects and initiatives stemming from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.

Session 3: Taking it to the United Nations

Have you ever wanted to visit the United Nations Headquarters, or participate in the General Assembly? Are you curious about what goes on behind the scenes of global climate accords like the Paris Agreement? Through this workshop, you will learn about the platforms and resources available to engage with the UN. Insight will also be shared on how global strategies and high-level policies are developed and implemented. With a better understanding of these processes, you will then learn about the various opportunities and steps you can take to meaningfully contribute to these efforts.

Session 4: Civic Engagement in Waterloo Region

How can we engage with municipalities in sustainable development? In what ways can we ensure that students and community members are able to voice out their opinions to policy-makers in Waterloo Region? This session will expose you to the structures and systems that govern the Waterloo-Kitchener community. A city official will share their knowledge on the objectives, values and strategies that outline how city projects are approached, developed, and measured. Through dialogue on city programs and policies, you will gain an understanding of the most impactful ways to engage with the local community to achieve positive change.

Session 5: What is Sustainability?

The word sustainability is often associated with the field of environment, but in practice, sustainability encompasses all facets of both local and global development. This workshop introduces the key concepts, debates, and approaches to sustainability. Why is eliminating global poverty an essential aspect of sustainability? What would a carbon neutral city look like? You will explore the key dimensions of the world’s socio-ecological crisis as well as solutions driven by technology, economic markets, and civil society. The broad scope of sustainability is showcased through an interactive challenge you will take-up during the session. The workshop will conclude by exploring key political strategies and tactics for bringing about social change and discuss next steps for integrating sustainability into your program of study and extra-curricular engagement.

Session 6: Solving Problems Using Systems and Design Thinking 

Are you driven by the desire to tackle complex problems? If you answered yes, join Engineers Without Borders in their workshop on design and systems thinking. Learn how to approach and develop solutions to real life issues through concepts shared in this workshop. The session hosts will introduce a guest speaker with experience from the United Nations who will provide an overview of the methods used by experts to address the root causes of issues. You will gain the know-how to efficiently approach and analyze the issues that surround everyday life.

Session 7: Inspiring Change Through Art and Communications

Art and media are important tools in bringing attention to emerging issues and current events around the world. Whether through photography, film or visual art, these mediums are powerful forms of expression. The workshop will showcase how art can be used as a powerful channel for advocacy and education. The session will enable you to effectively capture and communicate your passion through an artistic lens. Different projects will be featured and you will have a chance to learn about ways to leverage media to raise awareness of issues from diverse perspectives.

Special Guests

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario 

The Honourable Bardish Chagger

The Honourable Bardish Chagger

Leader of Government in House of Commons

Dean of Environment Jean Andrey

Dean Jean Andrey

Dean of Environment, University of Waterloo

Dean of Engineering Pearl Sullivan

Dean Pearl Sullivan

Dean of Engineering, University of Waterloo

Keynote Speaker



Dominique Souris

Founder & Executive Director, Youth Climate Lab



David A. Klar

David A. Klar

Founder, Global SDG Awards 

Shirin Karoubi

Shirin Karoubi

Founder and Director, Toolbox Initiative 

Sophia Sanniti

Sophia Sanniti

VP Programs, CANSEE

Truzaar Dordi

Truzaar Dordi

PhD Candidate, Climate Finance