Students renew their support for the Sustainability Projects Fund

Following three successful referenda, the SPF will continue to fund sustainability projects on campus for the next five years
Members of McGill’s three largest student societies voted to continue making financial contributions to the SPF, ensuring the fund can support sustainability projects on campus for the next five yearsSiddhi Aubeeluck

The Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF), valued at $1 million annually, will continue to be available for the next five years to any McGill student, faculty, or staff member who wants to kickstart a sustainability initiative on campus.

Since its establishment in 2009 through student referenda, the SPF has been funded by contributions from all members of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), the Macdonald Campus Students’ Society (MCSS), and the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS), which are matched dollar-for-dollar by the University. Every five years, students from these three societies vote on whether to continue their funding contributions, and the University renews its commitment to match that amount.

Funding for the SPF through to the end of April 2028 was recently confirmed when the PGSS referendum passed with 66.3 per cent approval and a record number of members voting in favour of the fund. This comes after referenda held in the fall by SSMU and MCSS, which passed with 81.8 per cent and 86.4 per cent approval, respectively.

“I’m really glad the referendum passed. The SPF is quite unique in Canada, and the McGill community should be proud to have it,” said Charlotte Aubrac, the PGSS Environment Commissioner. “Many projects that make our campus more sustainable have and will continue to unfold thanks to the SPF.”

Building on years of momentum

The mandate of the SPF is to create a culture of sustainability on McGill campuses through the development and seed-funding of interdisciplinary projects. It is the largest fund of its kind in Canada and has allocated more than $10 million to support upward of 330 projects since its establishment. Nearly half of those projects have been launched since the last renewal process in 2018, despite limited on-campus activities during the pandemic.

“The SPF is a flagship program and a crucial resource for anyone who wants to get involved in sustainability at McGill,” said Francois Miller, Executive Director of the Office of Sustainability. “The resounding support from both students and the administration to renew the SPF makes it clear that this type of funding is needed and valued.”

In recent years, the SPF funded projects ranging from clothing swaps and sustainable menstrual product giveaways to composting initiatives and lab waste reduction efforts. After achieving the milestone of 300 approved projects in August 2022, the SPF is now on its way to receiving the highest number of project proposals in a single fiscal year. This is due in part to an increasing number of student volunteers raising awareness about the SPF through the University’s Sustainability Ambassador Program.

“The fact that the SPF is open to all members of the McGill community is truly one of its biggest strengths,” said Annelies Koch-Schulte, a SSMU Sustainability Commissioner and SPF Ambassador. “As someone who came from an underfunded public school where there were no funding opportunities like this, the SPF changed my perspective on the kind of change I’m capable of making as a student.”

To learn more about the SPF and how McGill students, faculty, and staff members can apply for funding, visit the Office of Sustainability website.