As the Keele campus reopens, all those long awaited in-person events are slowly rolling back in. On November 4, the Office of Sustainability partnered with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Student Hub and Regenesis to host a tree planting event to start this school year off on a green foot
Throughout the afternoon, students from an array of majors put their gloves on and gathered near Stong Pond for this sustainable cause. First-year nursing student Ainsley Atanasoff attended “to connect with new people who share the same values while simultaneously helping the environment.”
Althea Reyes, SDG Coordinator for York, says the “SDG Student Hub is a semi-physical, semi-virtual space in which university students can learn about, engage with, and take action on the SDGs.” Reyes says it was launched in fall 2020 as “part of the partnership between York and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to bring world-class initiatives in sustainable development to its communities.”
Reyes continues to explain that the initiative of planting trees “is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 15, which is focused on restoring ecosystems and promoting their sustainable use.
But what is sustainability?
First-year engineering student and Schulich Leader Kiara Mavalwala defines sustainability as “when we come together and support long term action that supports the needs of future generations.”
Kiomi Kunigami, Schulich masters student and associate director of marketing at the Net Impact Club, further defines sustainability as “the convergences of environmental preservation, social fairness, and economic strength in the creation of flourishing, healthy, diversified, and resilient societies for this population and future generations.”
Throughout the years, many universities have incorporated sustainable development initiatives. York is one of Canada’s greenest employers and is an international leader in SDG relevant research, offering over 500 courses and 300 researchers that relate to the environmental and sustainability studies. The question is, can university students do more?
Ariel Yerushalmi, a fifth-year graduate student in civil engineering who attended the event, believes that students should “eat less meat, use sustainable forms of transportation, limit unnecessary consumerism, and incorporate sustainability into their workplaces.”
Yerushalmi continues to say that York should “host more similar events and raise awareness through fun activities. There is a massive population at York who may be unaware of the impact of their actions on the environment.”
Starting with the elimination of plastic bottles to green construction, York’s next steps are to reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent by the year 2030 and to be completely carbon neutral on or before 2049.
To learn more about York’s future goals, visit York Sustainability and get involved with their several clubs, such as the SDG Student Hub, which is holding two workshops to introduce the Sustainable Development Goals and discuss their key concepts on November 12, and November 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.