Climate Colab: fostering collaboration on climate action

Creating a space for actors from academia and civil society to help usher in the socio-ecological transition is the purpose of the Climate Colab, one of the three components of UNIVER/CITY 2030, an initiative of Concordia University. The Maison de l’innovation sociale (MIS) is assisting the Climate Colab team in the design and facilitation of several workshops intended to help create a climate R&D program supporting and propelling the Montreal Climate Plan.

Photo credit: MIS

Co-creation in three stages

Colab initially set out to map over 60 research projects—a significant number of opportunities for accelerating climate action. Two co-creation workshops followed, bringing together nearly 50 university researchers working on climate change and action issues. Affiliated with engineering, social sciences, and humanities faculties, these academics focused initially on projects related to mobility and the built environment. Why prioritize these two sectors? Because they have been identified by the City’s Climate Plan as having a strong potential to reduce GHG emissions. While road transportation is “the largest source of GHG emissions in Montréal, accounting for approximately 30% (of the total),” it is nearly equalled by residential, commercial and institutional buildings, which contribute 28% of the city’s GHG emissions¹. It is precisely in the areas of mobility and the built environment that cities need help.

To build on the researchers’ collaboration, a third workshop was held as part of the Montreal Climate Summit 2023, a flagship event for the city’s socio-ecological transition. This workshop focused on the role of stakeholders outside academia and brought to the table the reflections, questions, and perspectives of both the civil population and representatives of the public, institutional, philanthropic, and private sectors.

Participants during a Climate Colab workshop - Montreal Climate Summit 2023

Participants during a Climate Colab workshop (credit: MIS)

The workshop focused on the power of collective intelligence and the interchange of diverse professional, experiential, and activist expertise. This approach is specific to the field of practice of social innovation, and it is the basis for creating the conditions necessary for the adoption and appropriation of innovation.

In order to achieve the objectives of the Montreal Climate Plan, collaboration among different stakeholders is essential. Universities play a crucial part in diversifying and deepening knowledge about the transition. The civil population has a similarly essential role,  implementing R&D projects by promoting community ownership as well as the targeted impact.

Creating spaces for networking

How do we foster collaboration among people who don’t share the same challenges and vision in approaching a given problem? The MIS strategic coaching team asked more than 50 participants to identify common points of reference. Using a systemic approach—specifically, by mapping existing relationships between the various stakeholders and their environments—MIS encouraged participants to see their own particular challenges in context. Revealing this bigger picture allowed participants to reduce their blind spots, and focus on the cause-and-effect relationships between stakeholders to identify real opportunities.

Luce Beaulieu, Conseillère stratégique séniore, Colab Climat Concordia

Luce Beaulieu – Climate Colab Concordia

“Developing new ways of working together is at the heart of the Climate Colab. We believe that cross-sector collaboration based on trust, equity, and climate action will help accelerate Montreal’s transformation into a healthier, fairer, more inclusive, and less carbon-dependent city by 2030.”Luce Beaulieu, MSc, PPCC, Senior Strategic Advisor, Climate Colab Concordia

Too often, plans that encounter obstacles—including those involving climate action—fail to deliver on their goals. How can we better support change agents through the various stages of implementing their projects? The key is to create spaces for networking. This is the core mission of the MIS: to support organizations and citizens in moving from idea to impact.

Unveiling the field of possibilities—yes, but then what?

These workshops have opened up many discussions: What comes next? Climate Colab will produce a second version of the Climate R&D Program and develop a decision-support tool that will assist in the prioritization and financing of certain projects.

Clearly, the socio-ecological transition is complex. It will not occur unless there is collaboration; no single individual or entity has all the necessary tools and solutions. Initiatives such as the Climate Colab are crucial because they help form networks—between academics from diverse disciplines and actors from civil society, between the public and private sectors, and, more globally, between all those mobilized for change.

Want to learn more or contribute? Discover the UNIVER/CITY 2030 website and follow the project on social media.

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