People sitting in a room in front of a screen that says Eco Summit 2023
Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Accelerating action at 10th annual Eco Summit

On November 22nd, 2023, the Sustainability Office hosted its 10th annual Eco Summit to accelerate sustainability action on campus. Over 170 employees and students from all six faculties came together to enjoy an afternoon of networking, community-building, and celebration.  

The event kicked off with a plant-based lunch catered by Food Services. The Sustainability Office opted for reusable dishes, cutlery, and napkins to ensure a zero-waste event in line with our vision for a zero-waste campus.  

President and Vice-Chancellor Vivek Goel offered his opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of utilizing the diverse knowledge of the University of Waterloo community to act on our most pressing issues, together. Then, Director of Sustainability, Matthew Thijssen released the 2023 Environmental Sustainability Report and shared key elements with the audience.

This year’s student panel, moderated by Communications and Outreach Assistant Francesca Girmenia, featured four undergraduate students who have shown exemplary leadership in campus sustainability. Celine Isimbi, co-founder of Climate Justice Ecosystem highlighted the importance of a central system to connect the important sustainability work being completed around campus. Jason Amri, co-founder of 3Cycle discussed the opportunity to support student entrepreneurial ventures post-graduation so they can continue to support the campus community. Evan VanderMeer, Indigenous Entrepreneurship Coordinator for United College shared his passion for fungi and suggested that nature-based learning be included in more courses. Finally, the undergraduate representative for the Curriculum Integration Working Group, Maya Morton Ninomiya, shared her passion for integrating sustainability into all fields of study, such as addressing the health impacts of climate change. The audience greatly valued hearing student perspectives, and the Sustainability Office looks forward to connecting students with faculty through the Living Lab program.  

Moderated by Vice-President of Administration and Finance, Jacinda Reitsma, the employee panel explored how sustainability can be integrated into departmental operations. Sustainability Projects Manager, Patrica Huỳnh, discussed the importance of cross-departmental collaboration to reach our sustainability objectives. She encourages staff and faculty to connect with the Living Labs, Green Office, Green Labs, and Free Store programs to learn how the Sustainability Office can support your department. Rob Hunsperger, Senior Director of Planning, Design, and Contruction emphasized the importance of going above ‘code-minimum’ to ensure sustainable infrastructure on campus. MAcc Co-Director in the School of Accounting and Finance, David Ha, shared his passion for integrating sustainability into his classes and engaging co-workers in a sustainability committee to foster continuous improvement.  

Fifteen campus partners joined the event, offering information about past and future sustainability projects. Here, attendees got to connect one-on-one with student groups and departments who are placing sustainability at the heart of their work.  

Attendees then got to enjoy an interactive activity to identify how they can leverage their role on campus to accelerate sustainability action. After a quick survey, attendees viewed the aggregated data and discussed this topic in small groups. Attendees also had the opportunity to leave feedback for the Sustainability Office on how they can be best supported along their sustainability journey.  

The event wrapped up with an award ceremony for our Green Office, Green Labs, Green Residence, and Living Planet Leaders. 2023 showed a record-high for sustainability engagement, with over 35 awards handed out to departments and students who have taken sustainability action in their daily lives.  

Thank you to everyone who joined the Sustainability Office for Eco Summit 2023. Please stay in touch by following our social media, subscribing to our newsletter, and learning about how you can get involved.  

President Vivek Goel
A projector that says 2023 Environmental Sustainability Report
Students posing in front of UWaterloo banners
Employees on stage speaking into microphones
Employees holding up their certificates.