Towards a scaling strategy for Green Economy Canada

It may be an experience common to many people in the social and community development sector, but we find that huge strides can be taken when the right individuals and organisations come together for a concentrated and undistracted period of work. For this reason, the planning we do for all our work on scaling and replication includes such a workshop at its centre.

This was also the case for a relatively short contribution we made to the work of Green Economy Canada earlier this year. Green Economy Canada is a practical and progressive organisation that works with community organisations to launch and grow Green Economy Hubs across Canada. Hubs work with local businesses to set and achieve sustainability targets — bringing together, supporting, and celebrating businesses as they achieve their goals. We proposed a set of workshop sessions to be conducted through a period of five days in which the team came together in Toronto.

The materials produced by Green Economy Canada are universally visually strong and engaging. They focus on the value of Green Economy Hubs in towns and cities as a scaleable means of engaging enterprises of many different types in climate action. Their guide to communities interested in establishing a local Green Economy Hub talks about engaging and supporting local businesses to drive the transition to a greener economy, as well as the role of mobilising business in the sustainability vision and plans for a community.


As one successful Hub states: ‘Green Economy North has quickly established itself as the go-to solution for businesses looking for a competitive advantage in sustainability in Northern Ontario. Over the last year a swell of manufacturers, municipalities, and faith-based organizations joined the Hub, bringing total membership to over 40. Businesses are also swiftly taking action, with over 20 GHG inventories completed and six new GHG reduction targets set. The local media has taken notice too, publishing nearly 20 pieces highlighting the work of Green Economy North’.

This work is special and its impact far reaching. We were therefore very pleased that Green Economy Canada chose Spring Impact to work with them to analyse and plan their next phase of scaling. Community Works conducted that work on behalf of Spring Impact. The responsibility is big given that the next period of work for Green Economy Canada takes place in an environment of policy uncertainty within Ontario and also urgency to establish more Hubs and recruit more businesses across the country behind the common cause of tackling emissions.

Working with members of the Green Economy Canada team, we did extensive preparatory work ahead of the five days of workshops. We decided to organise that time around a set of sessions that would each have individual objectives but no firm sequence or rigid agenda. That way, we could build in flexibility and responsiveness to issues that arose each day. Some sessions were dedicated to reflecting on lessons learned so far by the organisation, for example using techniques of appreciative enquiry. Other sessions set out to build the knowledge and capacity of the team through participatory training work. Some sessions focussed on the planning work and key decisions that needed to be among the outcomes of the week.

These kinds of workshop sessions are often unique in the life of an organisation because they require all the key people to be together and for a level of honest and open discussion to be achieved. Often resources, especially time and money, are constrained. Thanks to the team at Green Economy Canada, this was another occasion when the results justified the effort we all put into the process.