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Impact!: The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadershipwraps up with a commitment to bring about change

Sep 27, 2009

Guelph, ON, Sept. 27 /CNW/ - A unique four-day conference that brought 180 Canadian students together with sustainability experts from business, non-governmental organizations and academia wrapped up today with a commitment from participants to implement the ideas they developed. Students at Impact!: The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership, held in Guelph, Ontario, formulated recommendations for more sustainable practices geared to eight sectors of the economy.

At the close of the conference today, Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators announced the creation of a $50,000 Impact Fund to help the students carry on their work. Conference participants are eligible to apply for funding to help transform their recommendations into action.

"These remarkable young people from a diversity of backgrounds have worked hard to develop some great ideas," Bardswick said. "They've demonstrated the type of vision, drive and commitment that could change the world for future generations. What they might not have is the financial means to implement their ideas. The Impact Fund will help them do just that, so they can make a real impact on their campuses, in their communities, and across the country."

Recommendations were developed for the following sectors: energy production; food systems; hospitality and tourism; information and communication technologies; insurance and financial services; manufacturing; municipal public services; and retail. They are being compiled by the Network for Business Sustainability into a report that will be published on the conference website,

More than 900 students applied to the conference. Participants were chosen from a variety of fields of study, perspectives and geography to ensure a diverse and multi-disciplinary approach. Prior to coming together at the host University of Guelph, each student completed approximately twenty-five hours of study.

The conference included two inspirational keynote addresses. David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, set the tone by outlining the challenges the younger generations faces in addressing ecological challenges. Peter Schiefke, National Manager of The Climate Project Canada, delivered the second keynote today, in which he motivated participants to continue their efforts and keep up the networks they've developed during the conference. Each participant made a personal pledge to work to create a healthier, greener world in the years ahead.

Other speakers included experts in community engagement, networking and activism, poverty, ethics, government and the media relations, innovation and leadership, and people management. More information on the roster of experts can be found at

Partnering with The Co-operators were the Network for Business Sustainability, AIESEC, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Natural Step Canada, the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives at the University of Saskatchewan, Coopsco and the Richard Ivey School of Business.


For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 1-877-795-7272, ext. 2707


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