The SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group focuses on issues related to Sustainability/CSR and ethics in communications. The Group contributes to the ongoing reflection on the expanding and increasingly complex role of communication professionals as they intensify their contribution as the social conscience of their organisations and to the protection of universal democratic values.
Based in Quebec, active internationally.
The activities of the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group took root in 2003 under the name of Centre for Sustainable Development, Ethics and Communications, at the recently created Chair of Public Relations and Marketing Communication (2001) at UQAM.
At its dissolution at the end of 2010, the team reoriented itself and restarted on an independent basis - the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group.
The SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group is a proud signatory of the International Declaration of Communications Professionals and Researchers for a Healthier, Viable, Better World. In the face of the deadliest global health crisis of our time and growing climate threats in all regions of the planet, the group strongly believes in the importance of a unified commitment of all professional and scientific forces in communication to make an active contribution to building a healthier world.
The SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group adheres to the principles and values of the Declaration of the Communicators and Public Relations Professionals of Quebec on Sustainable Development, signed in October 2006. This internationally recognized Declaration promotes the essential role of communicators in the sharing and promotion of the values of sustainable development throughout society.
The SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group also shares the values of the major codes of ethics in public relations and communications. Mutual respect is the basis of all its relationships, discussions and initiatives. Each of its members commits to respect the Lisbon Code and applies the values put forward by the Code of Athens regarding the various digital channels that may be used as well as the discretion, confidentiality and anonymity of exchanges when required.
Founding President, SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group. President, INTERDECOM. Previously an associate professor in communication, Université du Québec à Montréal. Pioneer in research-expertise on sustainability communication in Canada. Author/Co-author of numerous publications including the two first books published on sustainability communication across Canada. Co-lead of the North American part of an important UNEP’s Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles. Leading founder ofand SD integrating the twofold perspective of management and communication.
Full professor of entrepreneurship, University of Sherbrooke.
Director of the Department of Entrepreneurship, École de Gestion, Université de Sherbrooke. Researcher in entrepreneurship, business start-up, and innovation management.
Researcher/Founding Member – SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group: communication of CSR and sustainable development.
Full Professor, Department of Political Science, Concordia University.
Secretary General of the International Association of Political Science since 2000.
Author of numerous publications; Researcher
Researcher/Founding Member – SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group: Globalization, democracy and SD; sustainable lifestyles.
Executive Director of ECAR.
Lecturer in sustainable development, Université de Sherbrooke.
Founding Member – SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group.
Extensive experience and multiple institutional, academic and governmental commitments and involvements in responsible communication and sustainable development.
Initial members and collaborators
A big THANK YOU to:
- Thérèse Drapeau – a founding member of the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group – for her active role in structuring the group, her dynamic involvement, her numerous accomplishments and her continued support until the end of 2018.
- Dominique Ferrand – a founding member of the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group and friend of the Centre for Sustainable Development, Ethics and Communications – for his numerous and much appreciated insights, valuable accomplishments, and continued support until 2015.
- Gabrielle Collu – both an early ally and founding member – for her important role during the years preceding the transformation of the Centre for Sustainable Development, Ethics and Communications into the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group at the end of 2010 and for her accomplishments and support until 2013 as a member of the team.
- Deanna Drendel, an early ally, for her active role at the Centre for Sustainable Development, Ethics and Communications until its new identity was formed (SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group) at the end of 2010.
- Jean-François Gagné, designer and creator of the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group website. And a regular contributor on questions of digital visibility.
- Grégory Mongeau, webmaster, for his quick assistance on numerous occasions (2012- 2018).
Danielle Maisonneuve – Founder and first chair of the Public Relations and Marketing Communication Chair (2001-2009) at UQAM. Creator of several collections of books in communication and public relations. Author of several publications. Responsible for the implementation of the first bachelor’s degree in public relations in Quebec.
The late Michel Dumas – pioneer in public relations in Quebec and in Canada. Michel Dumas, who died in January 2017, was a faithful friend of the SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group.
What is the importance of communication in relation to sustainable development? What path did it follow? What are the basis and the ethical foundations of responsible communications? The SUSTAINABILITY|COMMUNICATION Group examined the issue by focusing on its progress in Quebec and Canada.
Following the publication of the first codes of ethics in public relations in the early 1950s and the international Code of Athens in 1965, ethical concerns have increasingly taken their place in the corporate world. In 1973, the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) dedicated the first issue of its Gold Papers to ethics. Over the years, the topic of ethics has increasingly been discussed at professional forums and in publications.
On September 7, 1970, the Irving Whale barge sank in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, resulting in an oil spill that reached the shores of the Magdalen Islands. Up to this point unprecedented in Canadian history, within a few days this environmental disaster brought together local, regional, national and international media to cover the flood of information pouring in with the dirty waves off its Atlantic shores. A series of subsequent disasters around the world and in Quebec – Love Canal, Three Mile Island, Tchernobyl, Bhopal, and Saint-Basile-le-Grand – further galvanized public opinion and the media. The lessons have been clear: many communication professionals have learned to deal with these new realities on site, directly in the crisis zone, paving the way for environmental communication, risk communication and crisis communication in Canada and the rest of the world. In the 1990s came a proliferation of training sessions, workshops, symposia, conferences and publications on these questions.
In this context, risk prevention and issue management has become a highly-valued specialty in organisations. Communication models are evolving to give more room for listening, dialogue, and exchange with stakeholders on the basis of respect, trust, and mutual understanding. A handful of specialists pushed their actions even further by introducing communication on social responsibility and sustainable development inside large corporations, guiding them in meeting their civic responsibilities following major campaigns denouncing problems with regard to child labour, sweatshops, and human rights violations.
By 1990, the ideas behind sustainable development had gained international credence. Earlier, books like Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) and Limits to Growth by the Club of Rome (1972) raised the alarm by declaring that the Earth’s resources are not infinite and that a strictly economic vision of development is not viable. In 1987, the Bruntland Report proposed a definition of sustainable development that gained international recognition. The 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio concluded with a global commitment to comply with sustainable development principles and underlined the important role of communication and education. In the same year, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) was created to promote sustainable development values in business. Ten years later, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg reaffirmed the importance of awareness-raising, information, and consultation on these issues throughout the world.
At the end of the millennium, the creation of the Sustainable Development Communications Network further served to focus efforts on integrating Internet communications into large-scale communication strategies.
At the beginning of the 2000s, communication on sustainable development and social responsibility was still very much in its infancy in organisations and was not yet part of the communication curriculum nor a research focus in Quebec and Canadian universities. However, a real turning point was emerging in all sectors of communication.
Solange Tremblay and Thérèse Drapeau