What’s next for sustainability? 

RMOW hopes to build on momentum from speaker series to engage Whistler in CSP process

First, Coro Strandberg made us more aware of our power as consumers in bringing about social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Then Guy Dauncey talked about climate change and the simple solutions already out there that can help us to reduce our impact on a shrinking planet.

Wade Davis peeled back the veil, making us aware how our North American brand of culture and civilization runs contrary to the laws of nature and our own spirituality – the world, he said, is as we dream it.

Last but not least, Dr. David Suzuki introduced his plan to make Canada sustainable within a generation, exposing the faulty assumptions behind the economy and pointing out the dangerous disconnect that exists between our actions and the consequences in this world.

All four speakers approached the sustainability issue from different angles, but had one thing in common – hope. They all believe that Canada and the world are waking up to recognize the environmental limitations of our planet, and the consequences of our social and economic systems.

All four speakers were in Whistler as part of the Sustainability Speaker Series, hosted by Whistler. It’s Our Nature group and the Early Adopters of The Natural Step framework for sustainability. Each speaker attracted an audience of between 300 and a 1,000, with standing room only for Wade Davis and David Suzuki.

That shows a lot of interest in sustainability in Whistler, and maintaining that interest and enthusiasm will be the biggest challenge for sustainability advocates now that the Speaker Series has wrapped up.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly says it’s important to build on the momentum created by the Speaker Series, although the public has to recognize that a lot of the work will actually take place behind the scenes.

"I know after the last Speaker Series there was a perception that the sustainability process stalled, and maybe in the public’s view that’s accurate," said O’Reilly. "I do know that the municipality and the other Early Adopters have been working on this in their own organizations from the beginning and have a lot of exciting things going on."

According to O’Reilly the launch of Whistler. It’s Our Nature and the Speaker Series created excitement and a sense of expectation, but much of the actual work moves slowly at an administrative level. For more than two years, teams from the Municipality and consultants have been studying different aspects of sustainability and making reports and recommendations that are just now becoming available.

"We’re trying now to do the really hard part, which is to implement things like the Natural Step and sustainability into our businesses and the community. There’s a big filter as we go through the strategies and into the actual implementation. Nobody has done a lot of this work in the past, and it’s great to have a theory, but it’s another to actually put it into place," said O’Reilly.

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