Organizations across Peterborough, Canada, and the world are recognizing that growth is neither profitable nor sustainable if it fails to include a plan for climate action.
“Climate change and the transition to low-carbon growth will have profound impacts on virtually every sector of the economy in the decades ahead,” said Tiff Macklem, governor of the Bank of Canada, at the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa last November. “We need to position Canada to seize the climate-smart opportunities that consumers, workers, and investors are looking for.”
More Canadian organizations, including those in the greater Peterborough area, are motivated by both the threats and the opportunities brought by climate change. Businesses are beginning to focus on climate solutions and recognize the benefits of these efforts.
“I think the local business community is a lot more aware of not only the micro reasons to consider the climate, but also that it’s good financially for them,” says Terry Guiel, executive director of the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA). “They really see it as a worthwhile endeavour.”
The local business community is indeed showing strong interest in climate action. GreenUP conducted market research interviews with local business leaders as part of the development of the new Green Economy Peterborough hub. Results from this market research confirm that businesses have a strong appetite for support to help them make reductions in emissions, water, and waste.
While large corporations have been pushing forward to develop strategies that both protect the environment and leverage opportunities, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), constituting 98 per cent of all businesses in Canada, have been left behind. These SMEs require different supports to become more efficient and environmentally sustainable — including more information, resources, staff capacity, and financial options.
Enter Green Economy Peterborough, which will work with local SMEs to reap the benefits of becoming more sustainable, including improved efficiency and cost savings, an expanded and enhanced relationship with customers and clients, and a greater connection to their community and environment.
“As a business owner, I feel like (the environment) is even more our responsibility because we are providing services for a lot of people and creating, in the beauty industry, a lot of garbage, a lot of waste,” says Sparo Lindsay, owner of Union Studio and a founding member of Green Economy Peterborough.
“It’s important for me to compensate for that waste by managing it appropriately and reducing our overall carbon footprint,” Lindsay adds. “If we wait around for somebody else, or an organization or government to take care of things or take action, it’s not going to happen.”
When a business becomes a Green Economy Peterborough member, they receive one-to-one coaching, training, and measurement and tracking tools to achieve tangible reduction targets. Their activities and successes are celebrated and promoted publicly by the hub. Upon joining, members also become a part a vibrant local network that shares knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm.
“Being part of a local network is an important part for our business, so that we can share ideas, learn from others, and set an example that others can follow,” says Scott Murison, co-owner of Wild Rock Outfitters and a founding member of Green Economy Peterborough. “It’s important to be connected to the local community.”
Green Economy Peterborough’s official launch will take place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. p.m. on Earth Day (Thursday, April 22nd) and will feature local business leaders speaking on the connection between sustainability and a thriving local economy. The virtual celebration offers an exciting opportunity to connect with business peers committed to building their competitive advantage through climate action.
A highlight of the launch festivities will be a presentation by Bob Willard of Sustainability Advantage, a leading expert and author on the business case for organizational sustainability. Joining us from the Durham area, he is excited to see a business network developing in this region.
“Peterborough is well-positioned to be a leading resilient, sustainable community in Canada,” observes Willard. “Community engagement is key, including the business and Indigenous communities. Peterborough is doing this and working with Green Economy Canada experts to build on that base of support. It’s off to a great start.”
Willard applies business and leadership experience from his 34-year career at IBM Canada to engage the business community in proactively avoiding risks and capturing opportunities by using smart environmental, social, and governance practices.
“Businesses are discovering that paying attention to sustainability is not only good for the environment and the community,” Willard says. “Climate action is also good for business and the local economy.”
The Green Economy Peterborough team is working with founding members from across the region’s economic sectors. More members are welcome, and Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development has offered a number of subsidies to assist early adopters through 2021.
The network is supported by an advisory committee made up of business and community leaders, including Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, the Peterborough DBIA, Curve Lake First Nation, Trent University, the County of Peterborough, and the City of Peterborough.
Green Economy Peterborough’s launch is an excellent opportunity for businesses to make a commitment to climate action, and contribute to to a resilient, low-carbon economy for Peterborough region.
To register for the launch event, or for more information about how to get involved with Green Economy Peterborough, visit www.greeneconomypeterborough.ca.