Today’s IRIS lecture looks at diversity and sustainability

More than half of Canada’s visible minorities and one in five Canadian Aboriginal people live in Ontario and yet this is not reflected in the composition of the province’s organizations working for a sustainable future.

Interviews and focus groups conducted with cultural organizations have led researchers to conclude that these under represented communities have a desire to become involved in the environmental movement, but members of these communities have been unable to create the necessary connections to increase participation. Sonia Dong, diversity project manager for the Sustainability Network, will address this issue and other lessons learned from the Environment & Diversity Project, a four-year collaborative initiative, which began in 2009 to help Ontario’s environmental NGO community consider, develop and implement strategies to better reflect and engage under-represented communities. Dong’s lecture will take place today from 11am to 12pm in 305 York Lanes. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Left: Sonia Dong

Dong’s lecture is presented by the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) in collaboration with Learning for a Sustainable future and the Education Alliance for a Sustainable Ontario and is part of a series of special lectures that address issues and aspects of sustainability.

If Ontario is going to be an environmental leader, posits Dong, its representative environmental organizations must diversify by incorporating under-represented communities as to adequately address their needs. Without taking this step towards inclusivity, where the people driving the organization are as diverse as the communities they serve, the environmental movement will be unable to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Designed to increase the involvement of under-represented people through the development and implementation of diversity strategies, the Environment and Diversity Project has a particular focus on ethnic diversity and Aboriginal communities. The project has undertaken training of partner organizations, created new networks, and placed young professionals into the organizations that specialize in increasing the participation of under-represented communities.

For more information on this presentation and others in the series, visit the IRIS website.

Submitted by Caitlin Gascon, IRIS social marketing & communications coordinator