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Activities and Impact

HIATUS (Effective September 1, 2020)

This year has presented all of us with significant personal and organizational challenges. With that in mind, WGSI is going on hiatus to restructure and better plan for the evolving funding landscape. We’d like to thank you, our institutional and project partners, for your dedication and creativity over the past year in advancing implementation of the SDGs at the community level. We’ve been energized by the many conversations we’ve had with you. This work remains our core focus and we look forward to reaching out after our restructuring.


WGSI entered a new mandate and while the spirit of our work - catalyzing collective action on complex issues -  remained the same, we would not be hosting additional Summits. Rather, we focused our efforts on specific projects related to Canadian implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals like the Energize Game, PowerShiftWR, Voluntary Local Reviews, the Together|Ensemble conference series. 

ACTIVITIES (2009-2019)

WGSI creates the conditions for collective global action through four main activities: convening Summits, publishing Blueprints, supporting partnerships and supporting public discourse.

Each time we facilitate the collision between today’s brightest minds and unheard voices, we create common ground among different disciplines, generations, and geographies. We shape unlikely partnerships that weave lasting networks to drive big-picture problem-solving. 

Every conversation, Summit, Blueprint, and partnership expands our ability to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We’re elevating the unexpected ways that science and technology can address issues, from universal energy access to education reform, from northern Ontario to Sub-Saharan Africa. 


WGSI's cornerstone conversation are our Summits, hosted in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada every two years. Our Summits are not traditional conferences. For each Summit we bring together contributors that include the world’s sharpest leaders and ideators, and emerging minds to tackle a particular challenge. Of this group of approximately 40 people, half the room is under the age of 30. We believe in the importance of creating a level playing field where people can think outside the box. Through the space we create, we elevate the expertise, lived experiences, and ideas of an unlikely group of collaborators. We facilitate open discourse that sparks real progress, and have the freedom to forge a unique mandate that adapts to our ever-changing world. 


Past Summits

Generation SDG
From April 22-25, 2018, Generation SDG Summit contributors explored what resources, planning strategies and accountability structures communities in Canada will need to achieve the UN Sustainable Development 
OpenAccess Energy
From April 24-27, 2016, OpenAccess Energy Summit contributors explored the wide and varied collaborations that are essential to addressing the energy access challenge and developed strategic focus areas to accelerate solutions.
Learning 2030
From September 29 to October 3, 2013, Learning 2030 Summit contributors explored best practices and promising initiatives in high school education aimed at empowering students in their creativity and potential.
Energy 2030
From June 5-9, 2011, Energy 2030 Summit contributors shortlisted the most promising energy technologies for the generation, distribution, and storage of electricity.


Our Blueprints support the recommendations made at each Summit by collating relevant research and case studies and by providing a clear roadmap to implementation. We also produce pre-Summit Briefs intended to set the stage for the Summit conversation and Communiqués which are released at each Summit closing to summarize the vision of the contributors.



WGSI generates impact by entering into and facilitating strategic partnerships which result in projects that align with Blueprint recommendations. WGSI's strategic partners include the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, Affordable Energy for Humanity, the Canadian Education Association, Collaborative ImpactTakingITGlobal and The Discourse  To learn more about how WGSI has supported partnership and collaboration, see our Since The Summit pages for OpenAccess Energy, Learning 2030 and Energy 2030



WGSI supports public engagement and journalistic investigations related to our Summits to improve public discourse in our focus areas.

Sustainable Development Reporting

WGSI contributed funding to support The Discourse's sustainable development beat which was led by Alia Dharssi. This beat critically examined Canada’s commitment and contributions to the global Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Producion.

Power Struggle 

WGSI contributed funding to support The Discourse’s journalism project Power Struggle. Power Struggle is a collaboration of journalists around the world who are investigating how energy poverty affects people in their regions — and what solutions are emerging. To date, reporters from Kiribati, Zimbabwe, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh, Romania, Mexico and Canada have contributed to Power Struggle and their stories have appeared in Inter Press Service, SciDev.Net, The Zimbabwean, The Independent (Bangladesh), Al Jazeera, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Republica (Nepal), The Tyee (Canada), TVOntario, the Guardian and the New York Times.

Power Shift WR

Power Shift Waterloo Region is a communications and events campaign coordinated by WGSI that brings together community partners from different specialities, generations, and neighbourhoods to address sustainability challenges in the Region of Waterloo.