Young Leaders Sought for Inaugural Sustainability Conference: Co-operators

GUELPH, ON, Jan. 19 2009 – Throughout modern history, students have been at the forefront of progressive movements to bring about real and lasting social change. Now, the energy and passion of youth is critical to address the economic, social and environmental challenges the world faces.

Announced today, Impact: The Co-operators Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership, will be held on the University of Guelph campus in Guelph, Ontario from September 24 to 27, 2009. This unique partnership of business, academia and non-governmental organizations teams 180 Canadian students with a variety of speakers and experts to develop real sustainability solutions for their campus, their community, and their current and future workplaces.

“In many ways, students are already leaders in sustainability,” said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “This conference is a way to give young people the tools and networks to become catalysts for a more sustainable society.”

All conference costs will be covered for selected participants but students must contribute their time and commitment. Prior to the conference, they will explore sustainability issues facing various industries, interview Canadian business and sectoral leaders, and develop practical sustainability solutions. Participants are also required to take concrete action after the conference. Conference partner Dr. Tima Bansal, Executive Director of the Research Network for Business Sustainability and professor at the Richard Ivey School of Business indicates: “we’re shaping leaders who not only understand critical sustainability issues but who can apply innovative solutions to address them.”

According to Whitney Radforth, University of Guelph student and president of AIESEC Guelph, students are eager to take up the challenge. She says: “our generation is concerned and committed to taking action to bring about real change in the world. This forum will allow us to make our voices heard on the question of how we can build a better, healthier and more sustainable world for everyone.”

Until February 27th students who will be 19-25 and enrolled in any discipline at a Canadian college or university in September 2009 may apply at Participants will be selected from a variety of fields of study, perspectives and geography to ensure a diverse and multi-disciplinary approach.

Partnering with The Co-operators are: the Research 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.

About The Co-operators

Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies offering home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators Group Limited is a 100 per cent Canadian-owned co-operative with assets of more than $7 billion. It is owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives, credit union centrals and like-minded organizations. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement, and is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada.