Engagement & Partnerships

The Engagement & Partnerships (E&P) Subcommittee aims to promote U of T’s local and international sustainability partnerships.

Engagement & Partnership Subcommittee Goals

  • 5000 students/year on Engagement & Partnership projects in the community
  • Promoting and expanding local, regional, national and international sustainability partnerships
  • Establishing sustainability as a priority in Community-Engaged Learning (CEL) courses


Faculty Alumni Student Staff External

Derek Newton (Chair)Assistant Vice-President, Innovation, Partnerships and Entrepreneurship VP Liaison
Steve EasterbrookProfessor and Director, School of the Environment Faculty
Basil Abu SaraBASc, Engineering ScienceUndergraduate Student
Matthew AdamsDepartment of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, UTMFaculty
Andrew ArifuzzamanChief Administrative Officer, UTSC Staff
Jennifer EsmailDirector, Centre for Community Partnerships Staff
Gwen BurrowsAssistant Vice President, International Engagement and Impact Staff
Karen ChappleDirector, School of Cities; Department of Geography & PlanningFaculty
Simona ChioseDivisional Lead, Public Affairs, Government Relations Office Staff
Lisa DeMarcoSenior Partner and CEO, Resilient LLP Alumni
Wilfred de VegaSenior Advisor, Mitacs External
Amanda Harvey-SánchezPhD Candidate, Anthropology Graduate Student
Shashi KantDirector, Master of Science in Sustainability Management MScSM; Institute for Management & Innovation; Department of Geography, UTMFaculty
Karen ShimCommunications Associate, Vice-President and ProvostStaff
Shannon SimpsonDirector, Indigenous InitiativesStaff
Colin SwiftBusiness Development Officer, Industry Partnerships, Innovation & Partnerships OfficeStaff
Ivette Vera-PerezPresident and CEO, Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA) External

Project Manager: Kristy Bard

Community-Engaged Learning

For more information about CECCS efforts on expanding sustainability Community-Engaged Learning (CEL), please visit our Teaching & Learning Subcommittee page and our Sustainability CEL Course Inventory.

The Centre for Community Partnerships works with students, faculty, and community partners to explore and enact a collaborative vision for a better world. Through community-engaged learning and research opportunities, students can learn from and work with community organizations to contribute to a more just and sustainable society. Current partnership opportunities can be found here.

Researchers are encouraged to consult the Researcher’s Guide to Industry Partnerships created by the Innovation & Partnerships Office. External organizations interested in collaborating with University of Toronto researchers and students are encouraged to use Blue Door, U of T’s single point of access which provides a seamless partnership experience that leverages our vast resources to help organizations achieve their goals. Local, national, and global corporations, foundations and other not-for-profit organizations, and local, provincial and federal governments can all benefit from Blue Door. Experts from across the University will connect you with areas that match your needs and identify potential opportunities for you—including ones you may not have considered—to streamline the collaboration process.

Local and International Sustainability Networks

University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)

The University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) was established in 2017 to mobilize university resources and expertise in North America to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states, foundations, and other organizations. U of T was one of the inaugural members, and since 2017 the network has grown to 23 members: 4 Canadian, 2 Mexican, and 17 American.

U of T has been actively involved in UC3 and in 2021 we strengthened our leadership in the coalition with the addition of John Robinson, CECCS Co-Chair, on the UC3 steering committee. Based on lessons learned over the past two years from cross-sector forums, internal collaborations, webinars, and partnerships with local and regional stakeholders, UC3 has developed a Strategic Plan, which outlines 5 core values, 3 goals and 15 strategies aimed at campus, community and global engagement of member universities on climate action.

The three goals are:

  1. Leverage university resources to accelerate and promote climate action research, teaching and/or co curricular activities on campus Sphere of Influence: Community
  2. Foster and strengthen cross-sector partnerships in community to cocreate place-based climate action solutions that reduce GHG emissions and build community resilience Sphere of Influence: Global
  3. As an international coalition, elevate and amplify research universities’ leadership role in accelerating global climate action and transitioning to a more resilient, low-carbon future

U of T is also the founding member of the UC3’s Urban Climate Action Network (UCAN), which currently includes six UC3 universities and is intended to create university/city partnerships on climate action

Learn more about the University Climate Change Coalition here.

U7+ Alliance

The U7+ Alliance, founded by French President Emmanuel Macron who hosted the G7 Summit in 2019, is a unique international partnership that brings together 50+ leading universities in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa to tackle the most pressing global challenges of the day. At the inaugural U7+ Alliance summit, the presidents of member universities collectively made commitments on 5 key topics for the future of universities around the world, under the general baseline “The inherent responsibility of being a world-class university today.” One of the topics is Principle 3: Climate and Energy Transitions, or more broadly, addressing environmental and sustainability issues. 

With regards to Principle 3, the U7+ recognizes that universities have a major role to play in addressing environmental issues and challenges to sustainability such as climate change, biodiversity, and energy transition. This includes leading by example on the respective campuses of U7+ members. The participating universities in Principle 3 have committed to work together on two specific actions: 

  • Action 1 (access to sustainability courses) is co-championed by U of T, Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL), and the University of Edinburgh (UoE), 
  • Action 2 (GHG emissions reduction and energy efficiency) is co-championed by UoE and U of T. 

As the UK hosted the G7 Summit in Cornwall with a priority on tackling climate change and preserving biodiversity in June 2021, and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow in November 2021, the U7+ steering committee has selected sustainability and climate change as the theme for the 2021 U7+ Presidential Summit in October 2021. This was done with the goal of making it an opportunity to articulate and develop a clearer message about the role of universities in contributing to such global challenges and align with the ongoing work and discussions of the G7 and at COP26.

U of T’s U7+ activities are led by the Office of the Vice-President, International, supported by CECCS. As co-champions of both Action 1 and 2, CECCS co-led two workshops in 2021.

Learn more about the U7+ Alliance here.

Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Canada

SDSN Canada is a network based at the University of Waterloo to unite Canada’s academic community around the SDGs. U of T’s membership in the SDSN is represented by OISE. The SDSN was launched in 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General with the mission to promote integrated approaches to implement the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change through education, research, policy analysis, and global cooperation. 

The SDSN adopted the SDGs and quickly grew, founding its global networks program, which is a membership-based alliance of top-tier knowledge-generating institutions focused on sustainable development, organized in national and regional clusters. As of 2022, the SDSN has over 1,600 members in 47 networks across 137 countries. 

In 2019, the SDSN published a new framework to mobilize transformative efforts towards the SDGs. The Six Transformations Framework now informs their global strategy. 

With commitments to the SDGs made by nation states, universities, private business, and civil society, SDSN’s research and policy analysis work is helping promote solutions to realize the goals. 

Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI)

The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (the ‘Alliance’) was founded in 2017 to promote multi-disciplinary academic research on sustainable finance and investment. The Alliance consists of global research universities, each with expertise in this emerging field.

The Alliance aims to: organize the major annual academic conference on sustainable finance and investment internationally; develop academic collaboration between researchers working on sustainable finance and investment; and nurture the growth and development of graduate students and junior academics working on sustainable finance and investment. Learn more at GRASFI – Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (sustainablefinancealliance.org)

International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN)

The International Sustainable Campus Network’s mission is to provide an international forum to support higher education institutions in the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices for achieving sustainable campus operations and integrating sustainability in research and teaching. The University of Toronto became an ISCN member in early 2022. There are currently 91 member universities in 30 countries and the ISCN is headquartered at EPF Lausanne.

Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating (STARS) framework is a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).  STARS is a well-respected, transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

The STARS framework gathers data on five areas of campus sustainability:  Academics, Engagement, Operations, Planning & Administration, and Innovation & Leadership.  Campuses are then assigned a rating of Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum based on the percentage of points scored.  Over 550 campuses across the world have received a STARS rating; the UTM campus earned a STARS silver rating in 2021, and the St. George Campus is currently working on a submission for 2023.