Prince Charles’ commitment to sustainable future holds lessons for all of us
Written by Laurel Broten.
Laurel Broten serves as the president and chief executive officer of Nova Scotia Business Inc. and is a former minister of the environment, minister of education and minister of children and youth services in Ontario. She is a board member of The Prince’s Trust Canada.
For more than five decades, the Prince of Wales has been a strong voice championing the fight against climate change and driving sustainability.
Now many around the world have come around to what he’s been saying for so many
years: that we must do more to save our planet or we won’t have a planet to inhabit.
The occasion of his royal visit to Canada this week with the Duchess of Cornwall is a good time to remember what form his commitment to our planet – and to all of us – has taken over the years, especially right here in Canada.
One of his initiatives is Prince’s Trust Canada, or PTC, part of a global group of Prince’s Trust charities that works in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Barbados and Britain. Established by the Prince of Wales in 2011 and guided by the United Nations sustainable development goals, PTC contributes to an inclusive and sustainable future for Canada by helping young people and veterans to explore, prepare for, and access good and meaningful green jobs. PTC programs help young Canadians, in particular, to prepare for the future of work, provide relevant training, and seek to address climate change mitigation and adaptation.
As a former Ontario minister of the environment and a public policy advocate, I joined the board of PTC precisely because it works in the trenches to create and support programming to help drive key results in these areas, which are often left on the back burner.
Young people in Canada have been hit especially hard by the effects of the pandemic. Today’s reality is that although there are more jobs available as we emerge from the pandemic, there continues to be a skills and training gap, especially for those who face systemic barriers. Yet it’s not for want of trying: Young people are keen to work in
emerging green and digital industries, but they don’t really know what green jobs might
be available in the future or how to access them.
This disparity emerged from last year’s Prince’s Trust Group global report of 6,000 young people on the Future of Work. It led us to create programs to help young job seekers capitalize on new opportunities in the green economy – ranging from urban nature and greening, to sustainable fashion, geographic information systems, energy efficiency and mass timber construction, to name a few.
This same sustainability-first view holds true for PTC’s veterans’ programs. One of them helps veterans discover new opportunities in green industries such as conservation, ocean technology and energy efficiency; another helps them integrate sustainable business planning into their existing operations, and still another helps them transfer their skills to become energy advisers.
In many ways, Prince’s Trust Canada has become a laboratory for what’s possible tomorrow because of the deep and long commitment of our founder. We often work with groups of people facing significant barriers, many of whom are young people and veterans. We are mindful that Prince Charles comes from a segment of society that most cannot identify with or understand fully.
However, his enormous goodwill and foresight have enabled us to support and create programs that are already forging clearer pathways to an equitable future. Just ask the more than 2,000 young people and veterans who have gone through these programs in the past year in Canada alone, plus the more than one million who have been helped by the Prince’s Trust in Britain since its founding in 1976.
Prince Charles has a visible platform and open podium as a member of the Royal Family, but there is more to it than that. He is one of the world’s experts in the field that his charity was created to support, and he has made it a key component of his life’s work.
I witnessed this first-hand when I had the opportunity to meet the Prince at a PTC event last year. I found his grasp of sustainable science, governance and finance to be at the forefront along with today’s solution seekers and environmental leaders. He was both eloquent and enthusiastic on a subject whose naysayers may be diminishing, but where the problems remain challenging and complex, involving multifaceted solutions and long-term vision that many would find too overwhelming to tackle.
Thanks to his efforts and passion, we at Prince’s Trust Canada are diving in to build a better, more sustainable future for all those we serve and for our planet. We have already accomplished so much, but we know there is a great deal more to do – and we are ready and eager to embrace that challenge.