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June 14, 2024

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Update 2020/2/7
Climate change


By Suzanne Forcese

Canadian communities and ecosystem are threatened by climate change and population induced pressures. Both human effort and technological advancements are the means of moving past the perils looming in the not too distant future.

Climate Change Ventures, and parent organization, Centre For Social Innovation (CSI) with three spaces in Ontario, is led by “a multidisciplinary team of entrepreneurs, community builders, systems thinkers, designers and all around badass changemakers,” the CSI website states.

WaterToday spoke with Shea Sinnott, Program Manager, Organizer and Educator, who is driven by the climate crisis and is passionate about combatting inequality and oppression in all forms.

“We have been providing a co-working space -- a home really and incubator -- for entrepreneurs, innovators and advocates to work on climate solutions and ventures.” Sinnott adds that Climate Ventures provides co-working, community and programs to accelerate any product, service or strategy that can help tackle the climate crisis. The story of CSI began in 2003 when a group of visionary social entrepreneurs decided that something wasn’t working in the social mission sector. Too many organizations were working out of isolated and substandard facilities. In 2004, CSI opened its doors to 14 founding tenants in 5000 sq ft of space in Toronto – one of the first co-working spaces in the world.

The model worked. “We now have over 2500 members in 5 locations, sharing ideas, strategies, experience and collaborating,” Sinnott told WT. Members and and their teams under the Climate Change Ventures venue are focused on transformation, working on the market, policy and cultural shifts needed to create our low-carbon future. Anyone who has a start-up or innovative idea can become a member.

Sinnott emphasizes that the land on which CSI operates is located on the traditional territory and that many Indigenous communities are currently at the forefront of struggles against environmental destruction. “As we work on climate solutions, we are also holding space to learn and listen to the Indigenous communities who have been doing this work long before us.”

WT also learned from Sinnott that The Centre for Social Innovative and Climate Ventures aims to facilitate tech-based solutions to climate and freshwater challenges within Earth Tech.

Earth Tech is a six-month accelerator running annually over the next 3 years, for startups and nonprofits working on tech that can positively impact Canada’s communities and ecosystems.

“CSI’s Climate Ventures is helping to build the next economy – one that is just, carbon neutral, circular and regenerative,” said Tonya Surman, CEO of CSI. “We’re proud to support the entrepreneurs and innovators working on the technology solutions that will play an important role in enabling this transformation for people and planet.”

“Canada’s freshwater ecosystems are threatened across many indicators, while we continue to have some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The good news is that we still have time to stop and reverse global warming, and, in the process, give rise to the next economy – one that is just, carbon neutral, circular and regenerative,” the website states in a push to accelerate freshwater and climate tech solutions.

“Earth Tech is a new program,” Sinnott says, “and this is the first of a 3 year program. We have recruited 16 ventures to be a part of this program which kicked off January 21, 2020. We provide an intensive support system of coaching on growing a business organization and accelerating impact.”

That support system includes entrepreneurs-in-residence who provide outcomes-based coaching with varied expertise and networks; access to CSI’s facilities and community; group workshops; connections; and master-mind groups. In addition to the Earth Tech Program, Climate Ventures runs accelerators, fellowships, labs and competitions in partnership with foundations, governments, corporations and individuals. The people driving the solutions needed to mitigate greenhouse gas pollution and achieve the UN Global Goals for a thriving planet are generously supported.

A free online program available to aspiring Social Entrepreneurs ages 18-30 is offered to 100 selected participants. The 8-week program will work on creating social enterprise aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. The ‘Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals’ is a national program sponsored by the Government of Canada. Social entrepreneurs will tackle important issues like climate change, plastic pollution, accessibility, employment training and more while generating revenues.

The Eastern Canada cohort of 50 participants begins March 3, 2020. Applications for the Western Canada cohort will open April 3, 2020. For more information: Climateventures.org/programs/aoc-sdg/

“Our mission is supporting the next economy of climate solutions,” Sinnott concludes. WaterToday will be following our next generation of changemakers in the coming months.

Climate Ventures Space

The Climate Ventures space in Toronto dedicated to climate
entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders and their teams.


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