Sustainability in Tough Times


I’m beginning to plan for this year’s applied sustainability course at Simon Fraser University (SFU). It’s essentially a two day tour where we go out and look at real life sustainability in action. Each year varies, but Olympic Village is always featured. The photo above shows the district energy system “smokestacks” and community gardens under the Cambie bridge.

The Applications course is preceded by the Foundations course, designed to give you a good grounding in sustainability theory and frameworks. Both courses happen in September and you must register by September 4th. You can choose to do the entire certificate or go a la carte. Here’s the official promo.

Sustainable Community Development

As the economy slows and decision makers think more about jobs, the bottom line and cost savings, will sustainability be replaced by other priorities?  What happens if funds for sustainability planning and programs are disappearing? Does sustainability disappear too?

Sustainability practitioners who have weathered tough times before will tell you that the answer is a firm “no.”  But sustainability might not look the same or even be called the “S” word.

More than ever, tough times require tactful and strategic approaches so that sustainability stays relevant in the eyes of decision-makers and community members.

In the year ahead, we will be exploring this theme in our Sustainable Community Development courses. We will be asking veteran practitioners to share their tactics and strategies. Some of the themes include utilizing financial and social savings as motivators; reframing sustainability to support new priorities; using the economy to lead; and creating new alliances.

Sustainability doesn’t disappear in tough times; it’s just different.

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