This February, Amelia Peres joined the McGill Office of Sustainability as the Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy Administrator. Throughout the next year, she will be responsible for the implementation of the 2017-2020 Climate & Sustainability Action Plan. Peres completed her undergraduate degree in Geography at McGill, during which she was heavily involved in sustainability efforts. Among other projects, Peres helped to manage Organic Campus, the McGill Farmers’ Market and Campus Crops. Most recently, Peres worked as Food Sustainability Coordinator for Compass Group Canada. These experiences have provided her with project management skills, the ability to lead multi-stakeholder processes, and a sound understanding of institutional sustainability.
How did you become involved in sustainability initiatives at McGill?
I first became involved with sustainability at McGill when I was a student here, working with different groups with a focus on food sustainability. For instance, I was a Garden Manager for Campus Crops, an urban collective garden located in downtown Montreal. As Garden Manager for Campus Crops, I worked to reinvigorate collective activities and increase membership. I also coordinated the McGill Farmers’ Market, a weekly student-run market on McTavish Street. At McGill, I also had the chance to learn about food sustainability research as a member of the Land & Food Lab in the Department of Geography. In my research, I used statistical software to look at the relationships between climate change, crop yields and global food security. After graduating, I worked full time for McGill's food service to work on their sustainability initiatives. I led activities such as outreach and education campaigns, sustainability reporting, and food waste management. In this position, I also acted as the liaison for students, faculty and staff members on all matters of food sustainability in McGill’s dining halls.
How has your understanding of sustainability evolved since you first came to McGill as an undergraduate student?
My understanding of sustainability has become much more nuanced since coming to McGill. First of all, my definition of the word itself has expanded to include social and economic issues, not just environmental ones. I’ve also learned to be critical of information being presented to me, and to think of everything as it connects to the systems around us – nothing happens for one single reason, so if we want to see things change, we also need to be thinking of everything in context.
Can you describe some of the projects you’ll be working on throughout the next couple of months?
In this new position, I will be responsible for administering the Vision 2020 (2017-2020) Climate & Sustainability Action Plan. The Climate & Sustainability Action Plan is the University’s first sustainability strategy with a particular focus on climate action, articulating a number of initiatives specifically aimed at reducing carbon emissions. I’ll be working with different aspects of the new Climate & Sustainability strategy, including helping individual units, departments and faculties craft their own sustainability strategies. I’m particularly excited about getting my hands dirty with the different urban agriculture projects on campus, and helping with the next phases of rolling out the bike center, which will increase biking infrastructure on campus and promote active transportation.
What excites you most about this opportunity?
I’m most excited about the wide variety of exciting, complex, and meaningful projects I’ll get to work on – there are so many incredible things happening around campus and I can’t wait to dive in!