University of Calgary: UCalgary launches climate action grant program with $1.6M federal grant to Office of Sustainability

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With the global push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, many communities across Southern Alberta are already leading the way in implementing innovative and equitable climate solutions.

The new Mobilizing Alberta Climate Action Grant program out of the University of Calgary’s Office of Sustainability aims to help strengthen capacity for advancing climate action across Southern Alberta.

Mobilizing Alberta is a multi-year initiative funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada, which has given UCalgary $1.6 million. In addition to offering a unique grant program, the Office of Sustainability will launch engaging events and accessible, solutions-focused climate-education resources and tools relevant to Southern Alberta.

“Through these programs, the office aspires to augment climate-change solutions that Albertans can participate in and build from, develop long-lasting partnerships between UCalgary and communities, honour reconciliation and Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, and mobilize climate knowledge into action.” says Dr. Bryanne Aylward, BSc’06, PhD’12, director of sustainability reporting and engagement.

Creating work-integrated learning opportunities to advance climate action
Throughout 2022-2025, the grant program aims to fund 20 climate action projects that seek to advance a broad range of holistic climate-change solutions, from the development of policy solutions for affordable, accessible sustainable transportation, to supporting regenerative agriculture demonstration projects.

What is unique about the Mobilizing Alberta Climate Action Grant program is it requires project teams to include a UCalgary faculty member, community partner and one or more students.

“We aspire to harness UCalgary’s innovation and research expertise, with Albertans’ creative entrepreneurial spirit and love for the land to advance collaborative climate action that strengthens partnerships between faculty and community, provides richer educational opportunities for students, and addresses community needs,” says Aylward.

The program was piloted during 2021-2022, funding two projects led by Dr. Adela Kincaid, PhD’15, an instructor in international and Indigenous studies, in partnership with community partners.

As Kincaid explains: “Three students from the International Indigenous Studies (course) worked with the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation [AIWC] and with a Îyârxe Nakoda community member this summer on projects that will make a local and global impact on initiatives working to inform and address climate change.”

Roxie Ferguson, a student in Kincaid’s course, applied community-based research knowledge and skills to support Îyârxe Nakoda youth and leadership through involvement with the Mni Ki Wakan Water Summit on water justice, water innovations and Indigenous Knowledge.

Students Gabriella Livingstone and Nina Obiar, BSc’22, worked in partnership with AIWC to explore how climate change affects the province’s birds, now and into the future.

“The Climate Action Grant promotes students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create strategies toward sustainable solutions,” Livingstone and Obiar said in a joint statement. “This grant allowed us to explore sustainability through experiential learning, which has allowed us to create a strong working relationship with the organization, continue to be innovative and gain a deeper understanding of the need for this research.

“The climate action grant has allowed us the opportunity to combine educational research with actionable items to enact meaningful change.”

Bringing together faculty, community and students in partnerships builds capacity for powerful climate solutions and reinforces the importance of multifaceted relationships and collaborations in solutions-based approaches.

“The benefits of funding undergraduate Indigenous studies research positions for students to engage with community-based approaches on climate change cannot be overstated if we are to walk two parallel paths in a meaningful way,” says Kincaid.

Who should apply for Mobilizing Change Climate Action Grant
UCalgary faculty members or eligible community organizations can be the lead project applicant, representing the project team, when applying for project funding.  The following community organizations are eligible to apply: 

Non-profit and charity organizations

Non-government organizations 

Indigenous organizations

Universities and academic institutions, provided they partner with a UCalgary faculty member who acts as the lead proponent for the initiative

Band Councils, Tribal Councils, Tribal Associations or Tribal Governments, and organizations of Indigenous communities across Southern Alberta  

Up to $50,000 in funding is available to project teams to implement climate-based initiatives throughout the next one to two years.

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