An important step forward in addressing the climate crisis

- Jamie Cassels

Statement from the President

Our campus community is passionate about responding to the climate crisis and wants to see us doing everything possible to contribute to solutions. I share that passion and together we are seeking ways to contribute through all of our activities and across every part of the university. 

UVic commitments

Climate change is the global threat of our time, and universities have a major contribution to make to the solutions. Our Strategic Framework has only six priorities—and one of them is to contribute to a sustainable future.

Through our programs of research and education, campus operations and community outreach, students, staff and faculty across campus are making a significant impact. Researchers in UVic centres and in every faculty are tackling the complex challenges of climate change.

There are over 600 graduate and undergraduate courses that address sustainability themes. New faculty positions, including two new Impact Chairs, have been established to further build our capacity and to drive solutions.

Our Sustainability Action Plan for campus operations continues to set ambitious targets for both the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and enhanced sustainability, and we are meeting and again raising those targets. We continue to fund multiple projects related to sustainability and climate solutions across campus, including the Climate Solutions Navigator project. With members from more than 15 university departments and research centres, this project aims to identify, develop and implement climate solutions.

A campus-wide action plan

Strategy 5.2 of our Strategic Framework promises to “Review and renew our approach to sustainability in every domain (research, education, community engagement and campus operations) to move toward a comprehensive and integrated approach.” We are moving this strategy forward with the goal of developing a broader and more comprehensive Climate and Sustainability Action Plan. The process will include wide engagement with members of our campus community and you will hear more about the timing and anticipated process in the coming months.

Responsible investing

One important tool for a university to address climate change is through management of its financial assets. How can we steward those assets to take into account the climate crisis and contribute towards climate solutions? There is broad agreement that this must be done but different views about the most effective approaches.

At its most recent meeting, UVic’s Board of Governors adopted a new policy governing the university’s short-term investments (currently $225 million) that places climate solutions at the centre of decision-making.

The policy requires investment decisions to take into account climate-related impacts and risks, and it commits UVic to a 45 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint of our investments by 2030 through divestment from the most carbon-intensive enterprises.

It proposes positive alternative investments in initiatives such as clean energy and low carbon housing and infrastructure, as well as continued engagement to promote responsible environmental, social and governance practices. After careful consideration, the Board and administration believe this is the most effective way for the university to move forward on reducing carbon emissions through responsible investing. The policy, along with greater detail, can be viewed on the university’s Financial Planning website.

With these commitments, UVic has made responding to the climate crisis a central element in the stewardship of our financial assets, and we have joined the global movement towards a new model of sustainable finance. Faculty and students are credited for keeping this issue at the forefront and informing the Board’s deliberations over the past year.

Next steps

The issue of responsible investment is important for UVic’s broader and more comprehensive goal of being a global leader in creating a sustainable future. With this policy now in place, we will increase our momentum towards meeting the goals set out in the Strategic Framework. Working together with faculty, staff, students and partners, and by harnessing our distinctive capabilities as a research university, we can make a difference on our campus, in the community and for the planet. 

Jamie Cassels, QC
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Victoria

University of Victoria news release: Investment policy targets climate change



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