Renate Sitch is Program Manager of the BCSEA's Climate Change Showdown. As of February 1st she also has a new job, as our Director of Stakeholder Mobilization. I sat down with Renate for this short e-chat:
Guy: Renate, as our new Director of Stakeholder Mobilization, what will your top priorities be?
Renate: Right off the top - and I’ve only been on the job for two days - I want the BCSEA to build its membership, and create more value for members by showing people why supporting our work is so important, and explaining the benefits.
I also want to help our volunteers and Chapters fundraise for the BCSEA’s projects and programs, and find new ways to engage the community around sustainable energy. And I’d like to ensure that our Chapters share the resources and ideas that already exist, as well as generating new ones.
Guy: Taking off your BCSEA hat, and responding as you, what do you think are the most important things we need to be doing to build a peaceful, green, sustainable world?
Renate: Care and Change. We just need to care more, both about each other and our environment. And change is needed in our education systems and social norms to consider future generations and encourage innovative ways to support a more sustainable world.
We need to stop blaming the past, and focus on finding a more sustainable way to support a happy and healthy economy and society, through sustainability. We need to foster innovation and creativity in this mindset shift, and encourage more people to think this way.
Guy: What inspires you most about the work of the BCSEA?
Renate: I like results. Although the problems we face today are large and complex, how we currently source our energy is one of the biggest components in driving climate change.
The BCSEA is actively pushing for policy changes, educating the public on both the problems and the solutions through webinars, social media and news pieces. Our Chapters are working to ensure that the focus of the BCSEA spreads throughout BC, and working on real tangible projects. While leading the Climate Change Showdown for three years I’ve seen an estimated 15,000 tonnes of GHG’s reduced in BC through behavioural change and youth engagement. And all from students age 8-12 (our future leaders). That’s pretty inspiring!
Guy: When a young person asks you what they can do to make a difference in the world, how do you answer?
Renate: Be curious, and don’t be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions. Where did this come from, and how was it made? Is there a more sustainable way to do this? Never think there is nothing more that can be done. There is always a more sustainable way to live; we just have to help people find it - even your parents!
Guy: What was it in your life that made you such a committed champion for a better world?
Renate: Toilet paper rolls. :) One day I started to collect toilet paper rolls when I was young because I thought it was such a waste - I mean I could build something with all these perfectly circular tubes of cardboard!
Ok seriously, I have always had this passion for sustainability, for as long as I can remember really. Before I even knew it was a “thing”. I think it was because I grew up surrounded by the natural beauty of Northwestern Ontario. I was able to spend summers at the lake with my cousins and my grandmother, who influenced me to see that we didn’t need a lot, not even running water or electricity to live. We could grow our own food and even compost it, despite the fear of attracting bears. To use only what we needed, and no, we couldn’t have all the fancy toys the neighbours had.
I also have this thirst for seeing change actually happen. During my business degree I was shocked that we only had one (small) course in sustainability and yet it was never discussed in any of our other courses. I asked one of our professors why they didn’t offer this way of thinking throughout other courses, and he said because no one asked. So I asked, and we did something about it. This was my first experience with real change towards sustainability, and it made me want to do more.
Eventually I pursued my masters degree in Strategic Sustainability, which gave me the tools, language and experience necessary to be a key player in the movement, and I look forward to continuing to ask uncomfortable questions that will make people think about a more sustainable future.