OISE Climate Emergency Declaration
On the occasion of Earth Day 2021, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) joins other academic institutions and governments around the world in declaring a climate emergency, and invites the OISE community to sign this declaration to signal their support.
This declaration acknowledges the need to take urgent and decisive action to slow human-caused climate change, and move towards more just, equitable and sustainable forms of living to support the health and wellbeing of members of the OISE community and their local and global communities. This aligns with statements made by the Assembly of First Nations (May, 2019), the Government of Canada (June, 2019), and the City of Toronto (October, 2019), amongst many other groups across Canada and the world. Based on these declarations, we acknowledge that there is an urgent need for all levels of education to help Canadian communities address, mitigate and adapt to the wicked challenges of the climate crisis, the impacts of which are being felt locally and around the world. We recognize that the climate crisis and climate injustices are being experienced more intensely by those who are least responsible for its causes, including those who are Indigenous, Black, racialized, living in poverty or in the Global South, and other marginalized populations. Climate action and sustainability work cannot be separated from broader justice movements; colonialism, racism, capitalism, and other forms of oppressive power structures have created and continue to maintain these inequities. Indigenous and Black climate activists have provided significant leadership on environmental stewardship and climate action, demonstrating ingenuity, resilience and grit in the face of adversity, and offering important knowledge and practices for creating healthier futures.
In order to move towards a ‘just’ recovery from the pandemic and a more sustainable future, it will be critical for all to urgently reduce the impacts of the climate crisis. In doing so we must prioritize seeking justice for all people and beings around the world, as well as for the lands and waters. OISE’s mission - to prepare scholars, educators and leaders, discover and mobilize knowledge, advance lifelong learning and contribute to public policy - aligns with becoming a community hub for education for sustainability and climate action. In this we acknowledge the complexities of this work, and an ongoing commitment to listening to and learning from diverse knowledges and perspectives through collaboration and outreach.
This declaration recognizes that universities are in positions of power and should be leaders of sustainability and climate action by utilizing their capacities in research, education and outreach to contribute to this critical work. Therefore, OISE commits to embedding sustainability & climate action in all aspects of its work as a faculty of education, manifested in the actions and strategies of OISE’s Sustainability & Climate Action Plan. This Plan ensures that this work will be deeply rooted in our work in teaching, research and advocacy, including in our governance, institutional supports, facilities, services, curriculum, teaching, research, and community engagement and outreach. Progress on Sustainability and Climate Action at OISE will be informed by the Dean’s Advisory Group on Climate Action, and connected to existing institutional priorities in Indigenization, Equity, Diversity and Accessibility, Wellbeing and Mental Health, and Transformative and Innovative Pedagogy. The actions and strategies of the Plan will be implemented over three years, and shared regularly with the OISE community and its partners. As part of this institutional commitment, community members, including faculty, staff and students, will be asked to collectively contribute to enacting sustainability, climate justice and climate action in their work at OISE. In this, they are encouraged to harness academic resources and institutional expertise to address the systemic issues underlying this crisis, and advance environmental and sustainability education within their local, national and global communities.
All members of the OISE community, OISE alumni and OISE partners are invited to add their names to this declaration to signal their commitment to this collective work.
We urge other faculties of education across Canada and around the world to join us in making a formal declaration of climate emergency. In accordance with the signatories of the Global Climate Letter for Universities and Colleges, we encourage all faculties of education to mobilize more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation; commit to going carbon neutral by 2030; and increase resources to support the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across the curriculum and co-curricular programming. By declaring a climate emergency, we can all signal that we are prioritizing this critical work, and apply our expertise and resources to the creation of a more just, equitable and sustainable world.
Dean Glen A. Jones
Members of OISE’s Climate Action Advisory Committee