York University has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to sustainability, from the founding of the Faculty of Environmental Studies in 1968, and the creation of the President’s Sustainability Council. This commitment is embodied in the many administrative initiatives across both the Keele and Glendon campuses that are working towards advancing sustainability at York University.
President’s Sustainability Council
The President’s Sustainability Council is an advisory body to the President with responsibility for providing input and recommendations on how to advance York University’s sustainability initiatives, projects, and practices and to provide oversight of the required actions from approved recommendations.
The council is made up of York students, faculty and staff, enabling each group to participate meaningfully in the planning and implementation of York University’s sustainability policies, initiatives, projects and practices. It also serves to foster the integration of knowledge and issues about sustainability into research, education and application.
The Sustainability Council operates in an atmosphere of collegial co-operation, where all participants respect each other’s participation through sharing of expertise, information and strategies. Specifically, the objectives of the Sustainability Council are:
- Develop a framework for understanding the different dimensions of sustainability as relevant to the university's campuses;
- Conduct assessments of sustainability to establish common understandings and benchmarks in the context of the 2001 Report of the President's Task Force on Sustainability;
- Provide a forum in which members may discuss sustainability challenges and opportunities to foster pan-university approaches to sustainability initiatives;
- Identify and review current university sustainability practices and initiatives, and ascertain opportunities for synergies and engagement;;
- Through a planning/prioritization process, identify and examine specific high priority issues and develop recommendations for the President to consider implementing;
- Develop communication tools that promote and enhance awareness of sustainability activities and initiatives, including the work of the Council, throughout the entire York community; and
- Produce an annual report on sustainability at York relative to the Councils' Activities.
In 2017, York University has developed a Sustainability Strategy that will guide the University in advancing sustainability into the near and long-term future. The purpose of the strategy is to communicate and implement a shared vision, inspire positive change, build capacity, empower people, harness innovation and creativity, and foster a culture of sustainability within and beyond the University.
The Sustainability Council has 3 working groups that work on specific issues that are then brought forward for consideration by the council. The working groups focus on advancing the goals within each of the sections in the Sustainability Strategy "People", "Knowledge" and "Place". Any member of the York community can sit on a working group.
The Sustainability Council meets several times throughout the year, while each working group establishes a separate meeting schedule agreed to by participants.
In 2011 the York University Board of Governors approved the University Policy on Sustainability. This policy describes the University’s responsibility for and commitment to sustainability, and provides the framework for ongoing implementation of the policy and assists the University Community in incorporating Sustainability into decision making. More information on the Sustainability Policy can be found here.
The Talloires Declaration
York University became a signatory of the Talloires Declaration in 2002. The Talloires Declaration is a ten-point action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach at colleges and universities. It has been signed by more than 300 university presidents and chancellors in more than 40 countries.