Sparking green innovation for a more vital city
by Rahul K. Bhardwaj, President & CEO, Toronto Community Foundation
The Toronto Community Foundation is very close to heart of the challenges facing Toronto and driving it in one direction – or the other. Our knowledge is rooted in our annual Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report which provides a snapshot of the quality of life in our city, including the successes and challenges.
We have a lot to be proud of as we continue make great strides towards becoming a greener city. In fact, The Economist magazine says Toronto is the fourth most liveable city in the world – a ranking that is due in part to our significant efforts over the past decade to become a more sustainable, environmentally friendly city.
This year’s Report also highlighted some key wins for Toronto where our ‘greenaissance’ is concerned such as:
- Corporate Knights ranked us as Canada’s most sustainable large city for the second year in a row, credited for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, limiting household waste, green transportation and local food production and access.
- Toronto also has the largest number of certified green buildings in Canada, totaling over 3.5 million square metres of floor space.
- Half of the population visits one of Toronto’s 1,500 parks at least once a week; almost 14% make daily visits. We have the largest urban network of ravines in the world.
But, we need to do more. Toronto’s Vital Signs® tell us that greater investment in green technologies, products and services is still required. For instance:
- Progress is slow in the long-term goal of reducing water consumption.
- Less than half the waste generated in the city is diverted from landfills, falling far short of a goal of 70% diversion by 2010.
In 2010, we galvanized the support of our fundholders and many partners – both public and private - to provide entrepreneurial Torontonians funds to get their ‘green’ ideas off the ground and launched Toronto’s first Green Innovation Awards. Seed funding of $50,000 was shared among three winners.
This year we are aiming for even greater impact. We are pleased to join forces with the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and the Centre for Social Innovation, to form the ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge.
Climate change is one of the biggest, most talked-about and most complex issues of our time. Social ventures – doing well by doing good – is an emerging business sector that is gaining traction and attention. Pairing climate change problems with social venture solutions is a chance to highlight how climate innovation can be a win-win for Toronto.
Ours is a city of collaborators, and I see that spirit in ClimateSpark, where everyday Torontonians – some, long-time experts in the environment and others, newly committed to the cause – are working together to develop solutions.
I look forward to reading the proposals of Toronto’s green innovators!