As we celebrate World Cities Day we take a deeper look into how Toronto is responding to this year’s Act Local to Go Global theme. Our Growth Lead for Canada, Justin Trevan shares his insights into how this global city is tackling issues such as sustainability, energy security and transport to help deliver a better world.
“Cities have the potential to build a more inclusive and sustainable world. They have a great capacity to nurture solutions that promote social inclusion, tackle climate change and foster cultural diversity but it doesn’t just happen. It takes partnership, collaboration and a shared desire from all levels of stakeholder.
In Toronto, there’s lots of different municipal departments and agencies, as well as government organizations such as Waterfront Toronto that operate at federal, provincial and municipal level. In addition, there are various boards of trade and non-profit organizations pushing just causes, so collectively there’s lots of goodwill between all the stakeholders in the city and a shared ambition to work in partnership towards common goals.
For any city to become cleaner, greener, more sustainable and resilient, it needs to know where it is today and where it’s trying to get to. It’s not just a case of looking to other global cities and trying to replicate what they have done, as the issues and challenges can be quite different, and the context in which they are being delivered certainly changes from city to city.
This is something Toronto has done particularly well. The City has established its own baseline for carbon emissions and set itself an ambitious target to be net zero by 2040. That’s 10 years ahead of the global target outlined in the Paris Agreement and one of the most ambitious in North America.
The City has also started to develop strategies to support energy transition, deliver increased energy security and drive a switch to greener modes of transport such as cycling. It’s also created its own carbon budget and developed the Toronto Green Standard, Toronto’s sustainable design requirements for new private and City-owned developments that promote sustainable site and building design. This is where we’ve got a key role to play. We actively engage with and work alongside city builders in the city and beyond, from transportation providers through to the development community to bring ideas together that can collectively help accelerate the achievement of net zero. A good example of this is our work at Toronto Pearson International Airport, where we’re assisting with the writing of the Environmental Masterplan. Here we’re considering many industry leading initiatives such as the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and hydrogen generation.
However, there also needs to be cultural and behavioral change among all those who live, work and visit the city. Citizens don’t just need to know what needs to be achieved. They also need insight, guidance, support and education on the valuable role they play in helping the city to achieve its targets. This is something we’re proud to have recently supported the City of Toronto with through our work on TransformTO. Our team designed, developed and implemented a communication and engagement strategy as part of the City-wide consultation program. We then analyzed the community feedback and summarized the community priority actions in an AODA-compliant public consultation report, which helped drive actions for change.
Measurement is also an important factor in helping to drive that change. The use of digital and data visualization are great ways to show the people of Toronto our collective progress – what’s working well and what’s not so that we can all adjust our behaviors accordingly.
Toronto is a global city, but it’s the importance and efficacy of local actions taken by the city and its inhabitants that will ensure a sustainable future for generations to come”.