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Due North: Strengthening Green & Sustainable Purchasing in the Yukon

November 8, 2011

Flickr / Arthur Chapman

Various orders of government in the Yukon are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their operations by designing and implementing customized environmental and sustainability policies, projects and programs.

To this end, the Yukon Intergovernmental Committee on Environmental Sustainability (YICES) is focused on identifying opportunities for collaboration to advance a collective sustainability agenda and strengthen individual programs. Recently Reeve Consulting worked with YICES to plan, organize and facilitate a sustainable purchasing workshop in Whitehorse.

Held on October 27th the full-day workshop attracted more than 50 participants, including government staff from four orders of government (federal, territorial, municipal and First Nations) as well as participants from other major organizations in the North such as NorthwesTel, Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon College.

With a focus on increasing support and skills for green and sustainable purchasing, as well as catalyzing a network between various levels of government to strengthen sustainability initiatives, a key outcome of the event was the high degree of enthusiasm that participants demonstrated for collaboration.

Workshop Highlights

The day kicked-off with a welcoming address from Mike Johnson, Deputy Minister, Highways and Public Works for the Yukon Government who highlighted the importance of sustainable purchasing to the Territories strategic objectives of reducing costs, improving services and infrastructure. Johnson contextualized his remarks with the effects of climate change on the North and the millions being spent to repair highways and roads as a result of permafrost break-up.

Key drivers for sustainable purchasing were highlighted in the first session of the day, with a clear overview of the business case and level of support required to develop a successful sustainable purchasing program. Speakers David Knight, Manager, Procurement Services for Highways and Public Works in the Yukon and Melissa Hall, Procurement Advisor, Corporate Services for Aboriginal Affairs  & Northern Development Canada, made compelling cases around how sustainable purchasing is helping to take advantage of eco-efficiencies associated with reduced packaging, product take-back and reduced greenhouse gas emissions – issues critical to northern communities were transportation costs can be at a premium.

To walk the talk, Reeve Consulting worked with organizers to have Madelaine Plouffe, Green Procurement Team Leader with Public Works Government Services Canada in Gatineau, Quebec provide a lunchtime keynote address via video conferencing technology that allowed for a live and interactive presentation.

A preliminary review of the evaluations shows that participants were very pleased with the event. To build on this momentum, YICES is now working on outlining future workshops.

Environment Yukon has linked to many of the presentations from the day on their homepage. Slides from Reeve Consulting’s presentations [PDF] are also available online.

Talking strategy with City of Whitehorse & the Arctic Winter Games

While in Whitehorse, Tim Reeve also took the opportunity to continue some strategic planning with the City of Whitehorse on the development of their environmental sustainable purchasing policy.

Tim also had the opportunity to stop by the offices of the Arctic Winter Games to meet with organizers and offer some thoughts on how they can achieve zero waste goals for the Games in March 2012.

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