How would you describe legacy?
The enduring ability to bring benefit to those who have been engaged in an activity – such as a conference, project, partnership, or other initiative.
Ecocity Builders and the BCIT Centre for Ecocities won an Incredible Impacts legacy grant in 2019. Tell us what you set out to achieve and how.
A goal associated with the Ecocity World Summit conference series, owned by the international not-for-profit organization Ecocity Builders, is to build capacity for the ecocity movement wherever a Summit is held. For the 2019 Ecocity World Summit in Vancouver, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) served as program convenor and co-host with the City of Vancouver. Both organizations already had a history of collaboration, particularly with regards to building capacity to undertake applied research, education and training in green building technology, among other things. An agreed outcome from the Summit was to build capacity, not just in Vancouver but across the region and province to adopt and implement ecocity solutions and accelerate an ecocity transformation.
BCIT’s School of Construction and the Environment put forward a commitment to create a legacy centre as part of the bid process. BCIT, with the City of Vancouver’s endorsement, applied for an obtained funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, a not for profit organization that funds projects tied to sustainable land use in the province. So, we settled on a shared goal – to create an applied research centre that would directly engage with Vancouver and other municipalities across the province. Through the centre, we would build their capacity to engage citizens through tools, education and training, to close their sustainability gap.
How long was the summit in the planning? How would success be measured?
Success of the summit, two years in planning, was measured through the number of submitted abstracts, diversity of topics which responded to the Summit themes, the total number and diversity of delegates, the quality of strategic partners and accessibility to local and low-income participants. We had qualitative and quantitative tools in place to measure success against benchmarks set in advance. Of course the legacy success went beyond the summit itself and the impacts of that are still being realised now through the work of the research centre and engaged municipalities.
What challenges did you face along the way and how were these overcome?
We needed to adapt our approach along the way to stay on track. Originally we anticipated that excess revenues, or profits, from the Summit would be sufficient to fund the legacy project. However, as the registration numbers turned out to be lower than anticipated from the international community, many of whom experienced challenges obtaining passports or otherwise financially supporting their travel to Vancouver for the summit, it was clear that another source of funding would be needed. BCIT approached the Real Estate Foundation of BC and applied for funding through their regular call. Endorsement letters were obtained from the City of Vancouver and many others. A program for the Centre’s activities comprised the multi-year funding application. A long term legacy objective provided a strong case for our funding application.
What work is being delivered now via the Centre for Ecocities?
The centre is working with ten municipalities across the province of British Columbia, and we have a growing list of additional municipalities from BC as well as other provinces in Canada who would like to join. For those we have on board, we have assessed their consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions and ecological footprint, hosted webinars and training for municipal staff on ways to reduce their carbon footprint in the built environment. We have also piloted a climate change-makers youth leadership training.
What advice would you give to Incredible Impacts applicants this year?
The process of completing the application provides a wonderful way to collect evidence and consolidate your initiative’s achievements. I was surprised by how much we achieved and through the process of completing the application I was able to consolidate a year-in review that also informed our first year-end report, complete with testimonials, achievements, and inspirations for moving forward. A very worthwhile initiative.
Has your association’s meeting delivered lasting change in the host community, positive impact, and legacy? Or do you have plans to adopt legacy into a future congress?
Submit an application or nominate an association for a 2021 Incredible Impacts $7,500 USD grant at www.bestcities.net/about-us/incredible-impacts-programme
Take inspiration from past winners and judges at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gRcwO_9Dmg&feature=youtu.be