Blog

University of Western Ontario's IDEAS conference

Today I had the pleasure of watching the students of the University of Western Ontario’s Masters progam in Environment and Sustainability present to their peers, partners and other community guests the output of their 6-week consulting projects.

Letter from the Executive Director (Canada)

A recent article by Thomas Friedman in the International Herald Tribune reminds us of the tremendous challenge and opportunity represented by our current economic situation.

“What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession?” Friedman asks. “What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall – when Mother Nature and the market both said ‘No more.’”

The economic crisis is loud and clear wake up call to all of us about the need to double our efforts to foster leadership, co-operation, and innovation in building a movement for a sustainable future.

Reflections from Hållbarhet 2009

Reflections & Lessons Learned – Hållbarhet Australia

From February 3-13, 2009, I participated in the Hållbarhet Australia Learning Journey, along with 25 other sustainability practitioners who share a common Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS) from the Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. It was an absolutely extraordinary experience that clearly highlighted the invaluable roll a strong network can play in the personal and collective impact of sustainability change agents.

The following capture a few of the key lessons I took away from the experience that seem directly relevant to the work of The Natural Step in Canada and abroad:

What Comes Naturally: Putting a Face on Sustainability in Canmore

The opening of Canmore's sustainability photo exhibit / community celebration - What Comes Naturally - was held Wednesday evening (February 18th) at the Town Civic Centre. I wish you all could have been there for it.  The show comprises 31 large, colourful photographs and hanging banners distributed from one end of the Civic Centre to the other, and features dozens of Canmorites who are working to make their home a more sustainable place on the planet.

Ontario Champions Gather in Markham

In early January 2009, decision makers and sustainability champions convened in Markham, Ontario to hear Whistler, BC Mayor Ken Melamed share his lessons learned on the road to community sustainability and discuss Whistler’s plans to host the most sustainable Olympics in history.

Using The Natural Step Framework, Whistler created an award-winning integrated community sustainability plan, Whistler2020. The planning process engaged citizens in creating a vision for the community and identified the individual steps that would be needed to move Whistler towards its vision. Whistler expects to realistically wean itself off fossil fuels by 2060, increase food safety through more local and sustainable purchasing, and continue to provide adequate affordable housing for its citizens, among many other initiatives.

Corporate Knights Sustainable Cities Rankings

With our global economy in crisis, increasing food shortages in the developing world and reports of unprecedented ecosystem decline around the planet, it’s easy to feel disillusioned with the state of world. However, when we look closer to home there are indications that change is afoot.

Corporate Knights, an independent Canadian-based media company, conducts annual sustainability assessments of small, medium and large cities across the country. They choose indicators to measure the socio-ecological and economic wellbeing of cities by using publically available data and sending surveys out to municipal staff.

This year, in an effort to improve their rankings, they invited The Natural Step Canada (TNS) to participate on an advisory committee. As lead advisor, TNS researched how Corporate Knights could apply systems thinking and backcasting to help define success and strategically inform their indicator selection.

Sustainability and Economic Crisis

Albert Einstein once said, we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. The current global economic crisis is a perfect example of the need for a new way of thinking.

We can’t look at the global economic crisis without also looking at the challenges of the climate crisis, water scarcity, food shortages and extreme poverty. We need to step back and look at the whole system, realize that all these problems are in fact interconnected and that we can’t address our economic concerns in isolation from our social and environmental concerns. These crises are all symptoms of a larger global system that is out of balance. The need for sustainable development has never been greater.

Building Toward Sustainability, Literally

The Landmark Group of Builders is a residential construction company further comprised of seven individual companies with offices in Edmonton, Red Deer, and Calgary. In the fall of 2008, in collaboration with The Natural Step, Landmark embarked on a journey to identify their key sustainability challenges, key innovation goals to overcome those challenges, and to develop a road map for embedding sustainability into their business. TNS advisor Sarah Brooks commends Landmark for “taking a long term perspective in their strategic planning for sustainability.” She points out that by “benchmarking progress from full sustainability rather than compliance regulations, [The Landmark Group] are taking an approach that is rigorous enough to answer the question “how will we know when we’ve arrived there [at sustainability]?””

Pages

Subscribe to Blog feed