Making the most of the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration’: bioregional regenerative development as a deep adaptation pathway

On a crisp and frosty April morning in the North of Scotland in 2002, at the Findhorn Foundation ecovillage, some 250 activists and landscape restoration practitioners from all over the world declared the 21st Century as the ‘Century for Earth Restoration’. The conference was called by Alan Watson Featherstone who set up Trees for Life, a project that has since planted close to two million native trees to restore Scotland’s great ‘Caledonian Forest’. John Manocheri was the official UNEP delegate at the conference, and now — 17 years later — UN Environment has finally taken leadership on this issue and announced the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration’ (2021–2030).

I remember the conference well. How we all shared this sense of urgency back then already. How being surrounded by people sharing stories of hope from their ecosystems restoration projects around the world was deeply inspiring and yet at the same time news was flooding in that we were loosing biodiversity, forests, top soils, and wilderness so much faster than we were able to respond to.

This is still the case, but the tide is turning. During the ‘circle of commitment’ at the conference I voiced my intention to set up an environmental education and sustainability training centre in Spain, and all these years later I am delighted to be on the advisory council of the Ecosystem Restoration CampsFoundation, who’s first camp is located in Souther Spain near Murcia. My own work as an educator writing curriculum for Gaia Education has helped to train more that 15k people from 125 countries around the world in the skills and frameworks necessary to engage in whole systems design for sustainability and regeneration.

Alan Watson Featherstone on Restoring the Caledonian Forests

Growing numbers of people are committing their lives to healing the damage our species has done over the centuries and millennia to this abundant blue green planet. Projects have been established around the world that demonstrate that human beings as part of life are capable of creating conditions conducive to life. MORE


BEYOND LOCAL: How Canada can solve its emerging water crisis?

Experts argue that conflicts over water have significant economic and social consequences

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Canadians can no longer be assured that our waters are abundant, safe and secure. As global temperatures continue to increase, our glaciers meltpermafrost thawsriver flows become unpredictable and lakes warm and fill with toxic algae.

The federal government has raised the issue of water in its recent budget with interest in two primary areas: drinking water in Indigenous communities and the impacts of climate change on Prairie water resources.

The federal government earmarked an additional $739 million in the budget to eliminate drinking-water advisories on reserves. Since 2015, the federal government has spent $2 billion to improve access to safe, clean drinking water in First Nations communities. As of March 2019, it has lifted 81 long-term drinking water advisories, leaving 59 advisories in place. It plans to have all long-term drinking water advisories removed by 2021.

This laudable goal is addressing the symptoms, but not the core water problems for Indigenous communities. Indigenous peoples’ inherent water rights, laws and jurisdictions, in addition to their negotiated treaties, land claims and governance agreements, indicate their role as full partners in water and land use decision-making.

But this has yet to be realized. Tangible action requires co-design of consistent, comprehensive plans and protections for waters that flow through their communities and traditional territories.

The federal budget also committed $1 million to develop a strategy to address the pressures on Prairie water resources which threaten farmers and ranchers. The Prairies have suffered from debilitating drought, flood and water quality degradation. How this strategy will incorporate the concerns, interests and rights of First Nations in the region remains to be fully addressed.

These investments in water would be more effective if they were integrated into a federal freshwater agenda that co-ordinated its design and delivery with the provinces, territories and Indigenous peoples. MORE


Wind in the County: Solar and Wind Energy Projects Crucial to Fighting Climate Change


Solar and wind energy projects mature into “Must Have” Assets for Fighting Climate Change in 2020 and beyond.

Volt and Turbines
The nine wind turbines that make up the White Pines wind farm would generate enough electricity to power more than half of the homes in Prince Edward County over the next 20 years.

If the Province of Ontario is allowed to start the process of dismantling White Pines, the taxpayers will be saddled with $100,000,000 or more in new debt.

Other communities across the country and around the world are welcoming wind turbine projects and what they mean for fighting our climate change crisis. Other communities are declaring Climate Change Emergencies.

Let the province know that we are WILLING HOSTS for the White Pines wind project and UNWILLING HOSTS to paying for this massive, unnecessary and entirely “Made in the County” debt.

Alberta issues 97% of reclamation certificates without ever visiting oil and gas sites

Alberta oil well
Workers at an orphaned oil well in Alberta, which must be sealed and remediated before being issued a reclamation certificate. Photo: Government of Alberta / Flickr

Documents obtained by The Narwhal reveal that, for the last four years data is available, 2014 – 2018, less than three per cent of oil and gas sites certified as reclaimed have been visited by an inspector from the provincial regulator — a far cry from the 15 per cent the public has been long told.

The data — accessed through a lengthy back-and-forth with the Alberta Energy Regulator’s media team and freedom of information office — shows that since the spring of 2014, more than 9,400 reclamation certificates have been issued, but during that same time period, just 277 sites were actually visited by the regulator for an audit.

This means the vast majority of oil and gas sites are certified as reclaimed without any independent physical assessment by the regulator — and most reclamation certificates are granted by an automated system.

This wasn’t always the plan. MORE


#Voice for the Planet add your voice for the planet and join the global movement.

The science has never been clearer or more urgent: our planet is under threat. Climate change, plastic pollution, air and water pollution, deforestation and other harmful human activities are destroying our natural world. This is a direct threat to our future.

Nature is vital for our health, our livelihoods and our well-being. We’re the first generation to know we are destroying our planet… and we could be the last that can do anything about it.

Thank you for joining the global movement calling for a new deal for nature and people.

Please encourage your friends, family and colleagues to join the movement today

#VoiceForThePlanet          #NewDealforNature

Time to hit pause on NAFTA 2.0

There are troubling new reports that Prime Minister Trudeau is on the verge of rushing the ratification of NAFTA 2.0 through Parliament.
There are troubling new reports that Prime Minister Trudeau is on the verge of rushing the ratification of NAFTA 2.0 through Parliament.

On Tuesday, Canada’s ambassador to Mexico, Pierre Alarie, told Mexican media that Canada is ready and keen to ratify. Alarie noted that getting the deal done before our federal election this October is a priority for the Trudeau government.

And in order to do that the government would have to move swiftly from here.

This should raise red flags for all Canadians. Justin Trudeau and his government are desperate to shift the spotlight off the SNC-Lavalin scandal and win back the trust of voters ahead of the election – and they may rush the new trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico into law to do exactly that.

But doing so could shut the door on progressive changes that are in the works to make the new deal better for people and the planet.

Right now, progressive Democrats in the U.S. are using their majority power in the House of Representatives to push for stronger environmental and labour provisions in NAFTA 2.0, as well as to reduce protections for pharmaceuticals that lock in higher drug costs for people like you and me, and lock in billions in profit for Big Pharma.

But these much-needed improvements from the U.S. will be harder to achieve if Canada ratifies the deal as-is in the coming weeks.


Related imageThat’s why it’s critical that you, me and the Council of Canadians come together to send Mr. Trudeau the strong message from the people to hold off on ratification until these improvements to NAFTA 2.0 are made.

Jody Wilson-Raybould: ‘I am issuing the strongest warning I can possibly issue’

Here are the most important — and gripping — moments of a phone call between the former Attorney General and the Clerk of the Privy Council that may come to define the SNC-Lavalin scandal

Jody Wilson-Raybould appears at the House of Commons Justice Committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Likely the most explosive component of the detailed brief that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould provided to the House of Commons justice committee this week—which was released publicly late on Friday afternoon—is a recording and transcript of a Dec. 19, 2018 phone call she had with the Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick. Wilson-Raybould had previously given detailed testimony to the committee on this call; Wernick offered a very different account of its tone and content, but responded to questions about the discrepancies in their accounts by telling the committee, “I did not wear a wire.”

It turns out that Wilson-Raybould effectively had.

LISTEN:  Jody Wilson-Raybould’s phone call with Michael Wernick

The former attorney general said she took the “extraordinary and otherwise inappropriate step” of recording the call because she was alone in her condo in Vancouver at the time, without staff to take notes as was her usual practice, and because “I had reason to believe that it was likely to be an inappropriate conversation.”

At the outset of the conversation, Wernick explained the mood of the Prime Minister and his determination to find a solution given “anxiety” about the jobs at risk:

“So the PM wants to be able to say that he has tried everything he can within a legitimate toolbox to try to head that off. So he is quite determined, quite firm, but he wants to know why the DPA route which Parliament provided for isn’t being used. And I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another. So, he is in that kinda mood and I wanted you to be aware of that.”

Wilson-Raybould made it clear that she found the ongoing discussions of the issue inappropriate, while addressing Justin Trudeau’s idea of seeking additional input from former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin:

“Right so, um, I again am confident in where I am at on my views on SNC and the DPA haven’t changed — this is a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence that, Michael, I have to say, including this conversation and previous conversations that I have had with Prime Minister and many other people around it, it is entirely inappropriate and it is political interference. The Prime Minister obviously can talk to whomever he wants, but what I am trying to do is to protect him. I could have a conversation with Beverley McLachlin, I can call her right now, um, I am just, um, issuing the strongest warning I can possibly issue that decisions that are made by the independent prosecutor are their decisions. We gave her, and them, the tools, the additional tools, I made it very clear at the cabinet table and other places that these tools are at the discretion of the prosecutor, and everybody agreed to that and that there was no guarantee that there would be a DPA in this or any other case. So we are treading on dangerous ground here, and I am going to issue my stern warning, um, because I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent, I cannot act in a partisan way and I cannot be politically motivated. All of this screams of that.”



Jody Wilson-Raybould warned of Trudeau’s political interference in tense call with Michael Wernick