Uniting farmers against climate change with Bruce Lourie

December 14, 2022

SeedChange Board member Bruce Lourie’s passion for environmentalism was sparked in an unlikely setting: summers spent working at a mining company in Northern Ontario. “I was astounded at the toxic materials they were allowed to dump into lakes,” he remembers.  

The experience led him to pursue a Master of Environmental Studies degree at York University, and then launch an environmental consulting business. 

From there on, Bruce’s exceptional career blossomed. Today, he is the President of the Ivey Foundation, focusing on Canada’s transition to a sustainable economy. He co-authored two books on environmentalism, serves as an Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University and visiting lecturer at Oxford University, and has been named a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of Canada, amongst many other accolades. 

He’s also an active advisor to SeedChange, and chairs the SeedChange Foundation’s Board of Directors. 

Bruce Lourie, President of the Ivey Foundation, advisor to SeedChange and chair of the SeedChange Foundation Board of Directors.

Before encountering SeedChange, Bruce was already convinced that farmers could do so much to reduce climate change and make agriculture more climate resilient. But not on their own.  

“In climate change work, agriculture is always seen as one of the most difficult sectors to create change,  because of the heavily concentrated power of industry”, he explains.  

“It’s the same multinational companies all over the world that are making it difficult for farmers to make their own choices.  And unfortunately, they have unusually powerful connections to governments.” 

To counter this, he knows what’s needed: mobilizing wide coalitions of partners to craft solid policy proposals. He often sees organizations focus on either coalition-building, or policy. But in SeedChange, he found an organization that does both. 

“When I first met people from SeedChange”, he recalls, “I said: I love everything you do, and you’re going about it strategically. Wow.” 

In the months that followed, Bruce helped us reach out to new Canadian partners and find funds to launch Farmers for Climate Solutions, a coalition that puts forward policies for climate resilient agriculture.  Already, the coalition has had a major influence on agricultural policy since its launch in 2020 – a remarkable feat.

Bruce is also a donor to our international programs – because global solidarity matters to him, too.  

“Farmers around the world face the same threats everywhere – climate change, bad policies, and excessive corporate influence. I like how SeedChange connects science, farming and policy together, both nationally and internationally. That’s how real change happens.”