Mike Morrice

Ashoka Fellow
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Mike Morrice was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Mike believes that to catalyze a systems-change to major global environmental challenges, we need to build action and collaboration into the communities we all live in. In light of the failure of global responses to climate change, Mike and his organization, Sustainable Waterloo Region, are creating bottom-up solutions that inspire and facilitate local communities and companies to design and implement their own action plans for addressing climate change. Companies and their employees publically set targets to reduce negative environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, develop sustainability action plans and measure their impact. Mike involves the media to showcase these corporate commitments, strengthening accountability and improving each company’s public image as they set and meet aspirational but achievable targets. Mike’s community-led, action-oriented approach to advancing sustainability is creating concrete results at the local level while inspiring and motivating national governments to take more ambitious action.

Unlike consultancy firms or other environmental incentive programs, Mike puts community engagement at the core of the approach by working closely with municipal governments, local trade associations, and chambers of commerce to establish community-owned programs and frameworks. He is demonstrating that involving local businesses that represent major community influencers, while also engaging their employees in sharing learnings with their circles of influence outside of work, societywide impact can occur. Mike’s model first involves employees from targeted companies to create the framework for future commitments in order to inspire their buy-in. Through this experiential learning, the employees then become their company’s internal champions to ensure they participate and work toward meeting commitments. As a result, Mike is creating a deeper, long-lasting commitment to changing values and behaviors to address climate change and make Canada a leader in this area. He is currently launching a national network organization, Sustainability CoLab, to evaluate and expand his model to communities across Ontario and eventually reach a national scale.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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