At its inception in 2008, Sustainable Waterloo Region intentionally steered clear of commenting on issues of public policy. We made a strategic decision to focus on our core service offering (the Regional Carbon Initiative) and develop valuable stakeholder relationships across all sectors and partisan lines.

This approach worked well for the organization but was questioned over time by staff, volunteers, other environmental non-profits, and community members asking Sustainable Waterloo Region to exercise its voice and contribute to the public discourse.

In response, we spent the first quarter of 2010 developing a Policy Engagement Framework that would enable our policy activities to“collaboratively improve the operating environment of organizations within Waterloo Region through the advancement of research-supported public policy.” The Framework answers the questions:

  1. Should Sustainable Waterloo Region take action?
  2. What action should be taken?
  3. How should the plan be implemented?

Our Framework has since been used to guide the creation of our LRT Position Statement and the Ontario’s Energy Future report that we co-published with the David Suzuki Foundation.

As Sustainable Waterloo Region continues to work on new policy initiatives to support organizational sustainability (including a really interesting research project that I hope to share more about soon!), we have begun to look at how we can fund these initiatives in a transparent and financially sustainable way. And we would like your input!

We have our own ideas, and I am excited to share them with you over the next few months (including a comprehensive transparency process that I think will be the first of its kind), but I am curious:

  1. What are the most effective ways that you have seen other NGOs fund their policy research and engagement activities (beyond donations and grants)?
  2. What types of funding do you think are inappropriate for Sustainable Waterloo Region to accept when working to advance environmental policies?
  3. What information would you like Sustainable Waterloo Region to provide you about the revenue sources of our policy activities so that you can be confident that we speak with an independent voice?

Let me know what you think by contributing to the discussion below, or by email at

Thanks for reading!



Sean Campbell
Policy Engagement Manager
Sustainable Waterloo Region