By Melanie Coulson
Professor Stewart Elgie was recently recognized as one of Canada’s Clean50 leaders. Elgie is a professor at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, and Director of the University’s Institute of the Environment. His research involves policies for environmental and economic sustainability, with a focus on market-based approaches.
He won the award in the “education and thought leadership” category, mainly for his work in founding and leading Sustainable Prosperity (SP). SP is a major Canadian environment-economy research network and think tank. Based at uOttawa, it brings together academics from across Canada along with business, environmental and policy leaders to help build the knowledge foundation for a greener, more competitive Canadian economy. Elgie is also the co-founder of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission.
“I’m honoured to receive this award, but all the people involved with Sustainable Prosperity really deserve it,” said Elgie. “Building a cleaner, stronger Canadian economy is the major challenge of our time, I believe. I hope this award helps raise awareness that green and growth can go hand in hand.”
Elgie started his career as an environmental lawyer in Alaska, litigating the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He returned to Canada and in 1990 founded Ecojustice, now Canada’s largest non-profit environmental law organization. Over the next decade, he served as counsel on a number of precedent-setting environmental cases (including three Supreme Court of Canada wins) and major law reform initiatives (including the Species At Risk Act).
He left a successful law career to earn a doctorate from Yale, focusing on environmental law and economics. Elgie held part-time appointments at several Canadian universities prior to becoming a faculty member at the University of Ottawa in 2004. He has served on or chaired many advisory bodies in the field of environmentalism and sustainability.
In 2001, Elgie was awarded the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal for exceptional lifetime contributions to law – the youngest person ever to receive the profession’s highest honour.
Canada’s Clean50 is the premier award for leadership in advancing sustainability in Canada. The Clean50 are selected from 16 diverse categories that span numerous industries, academia, levels of government, thought leaders and advocates, and are based on accomplishments over the past two years.