Creative Sustainability Driven by Canadian Youth
Recently, our ECO Roadshow team attended Americana 2017 (environmental forum) in Montreal. Over 12,000 environment and sustainability professionals attended from over 40 countries. One of the forum’s main themes was the role of youth in sustainable business.
In keeping with that theme, we thought we’d explore what it means to be a young person in the sustainability field, what opportunities are arising for youth, and creativity in the sustainability sector.
One of the main takeaways from Americana was the role of youth in implementing sustainable business practices. We had lots of young professionals stop by our booth and they were happy to chat about their jobs in the environmental industry. There was a noticeable buzz among sustainability practitioners – not only were they knowledgeable about their area of work, they had a palpable excitement about putting sustainability into practice.
We heard directly from youth that have spearheaded new business concepts related to sustainability and the circular economy. The closing presentation focused on success stories of young environmental professionals who’ve used innovation and creativity to create amazing business strategies. One of the presentations featured Therence Bois from Umiko who’s creativity generated a circular economy: Umiko is an eco-responsible urban farm that produces insect meal, fish, and fresh local vegetables and fruit all year round, and all this from organic waste from the city. This type of creative thinking is driving sustainable and circular business practices across Canada, and often it’s our youth that are driving these innovations.
ECO Canada’s Environmental Youth Corps (EYC) Internship program has been helping youth find environmental employment for over 20 years. In the past year alone, we created 602 jobs for youth under 30 years old in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Many of the EYC internships were created in the sustainability sector or overlapped with sustainable business. The last round of internships saw an increase in host organizations from environmental start-ups; many of the host businesses are creating innovative environmental technologies that require creative, young minds that are focused on long-term, sustainable solutions.
One of the specialization streams we offer through our Environmental Professional (EP) and Environmental Professional in-training (EPt) certification is Environmental Sustainability. Under this stream, certified members are recognized for their knowledge and work in sustainability by selecting specializations such as:
- Policy & Legislation
- Research & Development
- Education & Training
- Communication & Public Awareness
Starting in 2017, we’ll be offering a Mentorship Program to our certified EP and EPt members. Our EPts, who have less than 5 years’ professional experience, have a chance to be mentored by senior professionals. Our EP members who’ve signed up to become Mentors are contributing their expertise to help youth implement strategic and creative action in their fields of specialization, including sustainability.
There’s so much that young people can do to become involved in sustainable growth, sustainable business, and to implement sustainable practices in their daily lives. We’re pleased to contribute to this movement by creating employment opportunities for young sustainability professionals, and by providing certification and recognition for their work in the area of sustainable business in Canada.