VIU's Position Statement on Climate Action and Sustainability

How we define climate action and sustainability

At Vancouver Island University, climate action means we are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, do our part to limit global warming and adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate action at VIU is centred toward creating long-term, systemic change. 

Sustainability refers to our holistic approach, integrating environmental health with social equity and economic vitality; and, in doing so, creating healthy, diverse, and resilient communities. We use an Indigenous lens when thinking about the future that requires us to make decisions that consider the impact of these decisions on the future.

Our position on climate action and sustainability

At VIU, we agree:

  • Climate change is happening,
  • Climate change poses an existential threat to life on this planet,
  • Climate change creates uncertainty and anxiety,
  • Climate change is human-caused,
  • Urgent action is needed,
  • All learning institutions play a critical role in creating a more sustainable future.

The climate crisis threatens the earth.  The impacts of a warming planet on land, ecosystems, and people are glaringly visible around us.  In BC, extreme weather in summer (heat, drought, forest fires) and winter (storms, atmospheric rivers, flooding) are now the norms. Additionally, we anticipate that rising sea levels, warming ocean temperatures, and other impacts (poor air quality from smoky skies) will instrumentally affect human health, the environment, and the economy.

Universities have an essential role to play in taking meaningful action to address climate action and sustainability. At VIU, our people, knowledge, and resources can provide models and contribute to solutions that positively impact our institution, region, and beyond.

What informs this position?

Our position is informed by:

  • The holistic wisdom of multiple knowledge holders, including Knowledges of Indigenous Peoples,
  • Scientific knowledge and evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and
  • Our commitment to take meaningful action to address climate change and sustainability
  • Our commitment to VIU’s service to, and location on, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish People, including the Snuneymuxw, Cowichan Tribes, and Tla’amin First Nations.
  • VIU’s Strategic Plan, which includes a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals,

Additionally, VIU is mandated to follow:

  • The Government of British Columbia’s Bill 44: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets (2007) and its Climate Action Strategy.
  • VIU’s mandate letter from the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

Our commitments

To ensure sustainability and mitigate the climate crisis, VIU commits to conduct relevant scholarly work, research, and creative practice, to develop educational programming and take tangible action. As researchers, scholars and creators, we can use our skills to help create a better, more sustainable and hopeful future for us all. As teachers, we can do more to integrate knowledge about climate change and promote sustainability in our curriculum.  Doing so will equip the next generation with the skills they need to promote well-being and sustainability.

Mandated actions include aligning our operations to meet provincially mandated targets, including the Clean BC target of a 50 percent reduction in building emissions by 2030 and a 40 percent reduction in fleet emissions by 2030.  We also are developing new strategies to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and manage climate change risks. Specifically, VIU is working to:

  • Reduce our environmental footprint.
  • Foster a strong sustainability ethic in the VIU community.
  • Increase our role in advancing comprehensive environmental, social, economic, and cultural sustainability best practices on our campuses and communities.

VIU is committed to taking long-term, meaningful action on climate and sustainability. The President’s Task Force on Climate Action and Sustainability (CAS) was established in 2022 and engaged employees and students to identify best practices. The CAS will assess the impact and risks of our current and future activities and work to determine adaptive strategies to mitigate these risks. The CAS will engage the VIU community in dialogue to build knowledge and capacity in dealing with the climate emergency.


VIU is accountable to these commitments by:

  • Our Institutional Accountability Report informs the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training about our actions to meet our Mandate
  • Tracking our activity on the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Highlighting curriculum changes to curriculum related to climate change and sustainability
  • Tracking the number of scholarship, research and creative activity projects focused on climate change and sustainability
  • Submitting and making public an annual climate change accountability report outlining our actions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and types of emissions.

Approved on October 19, 2022 (and updated annually)