Sustainability in the Digital Age (SDA) has received $116,667 from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), via a contribution to Montreal International for Future Earth. The contribution was part of a $1 million investment to help four organizations in Quebec working in the environment and clean technology sector. 

Announced in a press conference March 4, by Mélanie Joly, Member of Parliament for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for CED, this investment will help support the creation of five new positions for SDA and the Canada Hub of Future Earth. This comes as we announce the appointment of Dr. Éliane Ubalijoro as the new Executive Director for SDA and Global Hub Director.

“COVID-19 is forcing us to pause and reflect on our global footprint. We urgently need to leverage digital innovations to enhance our sustainability practices,” said Dr. Ubalijoro. “I am honoured to join SDA and follow in the visionary work of Dr. Amy Luers to investigate how digitalization can help us achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Our human and digital intelligence must be harnessed to achieve global sustainability.”

SDA is a unique collaboration that bridges technology, research, and science policy. Hosted at Concordia University, the new initiative draws on its partnerships with Mila, the International Science Council, and the German Environment Agency (UBA). Dr. Ubalijoro will seek to expand this strong network internationally.

“Following Concordia’s signing of the Montréal Statement on Sustainability in the Digital Age, the appointment of Dr. Éliane Ubalijoro to helm this trans-disciplinary initiative further advances our ongoing mission of harnessing digital innovation to bolster the imperative of global sustainability,” said Graham Carr, President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University. 

Dr. Ubalijoro brings a wealth of knowledge to SDA’s projects. These include studying global perspectives on the deployment of technologies like digital surveillance to combat global crises, such as COVID-19 or climate change. SDA is also investigating what role Canada should play in advancing post-2020 global biodiversity targets, and how machine learning can enhance the process. Another ongoing project focuses on guiding philanthropic investments to achieve climate goals. In the coming months, SDA will be organizing an online dialogue series across Canada to increase awareness of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and explore how innovators across the country are mobilizing digital transformations for sustainability.

Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante emphasized the importance of investing in digital innovation for sustainability goals and for action on climate change. “More than ever, we must ensure that the digital revolution contributes to the transformation of our society into a more sustainable and equitable one. In the context of the current pandemic and of the climate crisis, we believe that it is essential for the city to support the Sustainability in the Digital Age (SDA) initiative, thus also reinforcing Montréal’s position as one of the global leaders in the field of artificial intelligence. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Éliane Ubalijoro, on her appointment as Executive Director of SDA and Global Hub Director for Future Earth in Montréal.”

This expansion is carried out in collaboration with Montréal International, with financial support provided by the Government of Canada, the Government of Québec, the City of Montréal, the Québec Research Funds, and the ClimateWorks Foundation.

“Montréal boasts the highest community of international organizations in North America, after New York and Washington,” said  Stéphane Paquet, President and CEO of Montréal International. “We are proud to assist an organization such as Future Earth in carrying out its valuable mission to achieve global sustainability. Montréal has a rich history in artificial intelligence and technology research, and it is exciting to see it intersect on the significant issue of global sustainability.”

For more details and quotes from supporting organizations please refer to the full press release available in French and English.