Sarah Burch is a Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Governance & Innovation, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Environmental Management, University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
She is Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Sustainability Governance & Innovation; a Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation; and a Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs.
Her research focuses on governing responses to climate change (both adaptation and mitigation) in urban spaces. She explores triggers of transitions toward more sustainable development pathways, and strategies for engaging a variety of actors in conversations about desirable futures. She is the North American coordinator of the Earth System Governance Project and is one of the core faculty members teaching in the Master’s of Climate Change program.
Her research addresses the question of transformative change in response to climate change and sustainability challenges – exploring the roots of vulnerability and carbon-intensive development by examining the inertia built into our modes of governance, urban planning, and participatory processes. Current projects that are under way employ comparative policy analysis and institutional theory, paired with the concepts of path dependency and sustainability transitions, to investigate how communities use stocks of capacity to respond to climate change.
Sarah Burch’s current projects include: Sustainability Governance: Triggering transformative innovation in communities (University of Waterloo, University of East Anglia, Erasmus University Rotterdam); Accelerating community-based climate change adaptation in developing countries (University of Waterloo and ICLEI Canada); and The climate change imperative: Changing current development paths (Royal Roads University, University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, Simon Fraser University).
She holds a PhD in Resource Management & Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia, Canada (2009), a BA in International Relations (University of Calgary, 2004) and a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science (University of Calgary, 2004).
She has contributed articles to journals including Global Environmental Change, Climate Policy, Environmental Science & Policy, Energy Policy, Sustainable Development and Futures.
Sarah Burch was a member of the LafargeHolcim Awards jury for region North America in 2020.