Hope for the Haisla: Managing wealth instead of poverty

Reconciliation is the most important challenge facing Canadians. It’s important to understand the many challenges facing First Nations trying to reconcile development and environmental sustainability.


Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, shown here in Kitamaat Village, B.C. on March 9, 2019, has endured threats over her support for Coastal GasLink’s natural gas project. Photo by Brandi Morin

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith has been called a “traitor” and faced threats on social media, warned not to go anywhere alone at a recent First Nation sporting event.

Smith says she comes from “a long, long line of strong female leaders” in the matriarchal Haisla Nation and has the support of her community against threats, most from outside of Kitamaat Village, B.C. in the Pacific Northwest. The promise of a brighter future keeps her going. She’s never been prouder to be a Haisla Nation member.

The attacks stem from the Haisla Nation signing mutual benefit agreements in 2018 with LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink. Coastal GasLink is the name of the pipeline project that would feed natural gas to an LNG Canada facility, within Haisla territory, where it would be liquefied and shipped overseas. It’s a partnership that will provide extensive economic benefits to the tiny coastal tribe of 1,800 with 800 living on reserve.

The Haisla are working with the companies to build a processing plant of their own called Cedar LNG.

The Haisla aren’t worried about the potential threats to the water, marine life or other environmental effects like many opponents of the project. Smith said they’ve done their due diligence. Following years of negotiations and 86 meetings with Coastal Gas Link, the Haisla decided to get on board. Twenty First Nations have signed project agreements with Coastal GasLink. MORE

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

 

Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems

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Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both. Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge.
Although global food production of calories has kept pace with population growth, more than 820 million people have insufficient food and many more consume low-quality diets that cause micronutrient deficiencies and contribute to a substantial rise in the incidence of diet-related obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Unhealthy diets pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than does unsafe sex, and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined. Because much of the world’s population is inadequately nourished and many environmental systems and processes are pushed beyond safe boundaries by food production, a global transformation of the food system is urgently needed. MORE
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It is time to respect the planet’s boundaries—and overhaul how we eat and waste food—if we want to feed our rising population

If we’re to feed the estimated 10 billion people on Earth in 2050—and protect the planet— we have to completely overhaul food production and choose healthier diets, says international report


Market in Barcelona, Spain. The authors recommend consumption of red meats and sugars to decrease by 50 percent, while increasing consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes two-fold. Credit: ja ma/Unsplash)

The way we eat and grow food has to dramatically change if we’re going to feed the world’s increasing population by 2050 and protect the planet, according to a major report released today from the EAT-Lancet Commission.

“Civilisation is in crisis. We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources,” wrote the commission, which was a three-year project and is comprised of 37 scientists from around the globe. “For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of synchronisation with the planet and nature.”

Agriculture is the largest pressure humans put on the planet.

The authors say reconnecting with nature is the key in turning around unsustainable agriculture and poor diets. If humans can “eat in a way that works for our planet as well as our bodies, the natural balance of the planet’s resources will be restored,” they write. “The nature that is disappearing holds the key to human and planetary survival.” MORE

 

9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in a simpler time, and we aren’t just talking about technology.

Many modern conveniences are great, and in many ways, living in 2019 is much more enjoyable than 1935. But there are a lot of things we can learn from older generations to help live  a more sustainable life.

Here are some things our grandparents and great-grandparents did to live a simpler life that was a lot more eco-friendly. MORE

10 new innovations that will shape a more sustainable future

The new technology that will make an impact in the next five years

Virtual reality experiences that encourage sustainable behaviour is just one of the innovations at the forefront of sustainability innovation.
Virtual reality experiences that encourage sustainable behaviour is just one of the innovations at the forefront of sustainability innovation.

From alternative energy sources to immersive artificial experiences designed to change behaviour, sustainable innovations aim to drastically reduce the effects of human life on planet Earth.

Renewable energy use needs to increase six times to achieve sustainability goals laid down by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Rapidly improving energy efficiency will contribute a percentage of the progress required.

But the importance of new technology and innovation has never been greater to limit the average global temperature rise to below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. Mubadala’s development company Masdar is central to many new developments and innovations in the UAE.

It has commissioned a report on the top 10 sustainable innovations likely to make the greatest impact over the next five years. MORE

A Swiss philanthropist has donated $1 billion to save the Earth’s wild lands and waters from destruction. Here’s where the money is going.

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The Vallunaraju mountain stands high in the Andes, early morning in Huaraz, Peru, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. The Wyss Foundation is donating $8.5 million to the Andes Amazon Fund, which protects forests in the headwaters of the Amazon River basin. Rodrigo Abd/AP

Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss philanthropist, has pledged $1 billion to land and ocean conservation. The Wyss Foundation wants to help preserve 30% of the planet’s wild lands and oceans by 2030. An increase in conservation can help prevent animal and plant species from going extinct, and it can expand the availability of clean air and drinking water.

Wyss, a billionaire and conservationist, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that his eponymous foundation will donate the money over the next 10 years to conservation projects led by indigenous people, local leaders, and conservation groups. He wants to help conserve 30% of the planet by 2030, adding that lands and waters are best protected when they are turned into public national parks, marine reserves, and wildlife refuges. MORE

Read more: So many animals will go extinct in the next 50 years that it will take Earth at least 3 million years to recover, a study has found

Arctic Drilling Is “Ecocide on an Incredible Diversity of Wildlife”

Pregnant female caribou from the Porcupine River Herd migrate over the frozen Coleen River on their way to calve in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Pregnant caribou from the Porcupine River Herd migrate over the frozen Coleen River on their way to calve in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.SUBHANKAR BANERJEE, 2002

“What side of history do you want to be on?” Indigenous Alaskan Tonya Garnett asked the Department of Interior officials seated at the dais. “What legacy do you want to leave behind for your children?”

Garnett had journeyed from her small Gwich’in community of Venetie, Alaska, to speak on behalf of her people. “Our way of life is at stake,” she explained. “We speak for our ancestors, and we speak for our children’s children. I want to see my son — my 9-year-old son — be able to get his first caribou. I want to see his sons or his daughters get theirs.” MORE

Agent of change: U of T moves forward with plan to be a sustainability leader

photo of people tending to a rooftop garden
A U of T presidential committee’s report on the environment, climate change and sustainability recommends, among other things, using the campus as a “living lab” for sustainability projects (photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

The University of Toronto is moving forward with an ambitious plan to establish itself as an engine of sustainability in Canada and around the world.

In its most recent annual report, U of T’s President’s Advisory Committee on the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability, or CECCS, laid out a comprehensive road map that incorporates sustainable ideas and practices – both environmental and social – into nearly every facet of campus life.

“Let’s turn the whole university campus into a sandbox for sustainability experimentation and testing.”

That includes building partnerships with the wider community on sustainability issues and using U of T building projects as “living labs” to try out new sustainable technologies and practices. MORE

Waterloo, Ont., office takes green development to new level

Cora Group’s new three-storey office building in Waterloo, Ont., is expected to be a template for other green office developments. Its operation results in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. JENNIFER LEWINGTON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

The project’s origins date to 2013 when Cora, with a history of clean technology in its projects, responded to an industry challenge from Sustainable Waterloo Region, a non-profit that works with local firms on climate change issues, to build an environmentally sustainable, multitenant office at market rates.

A key consideration, says SWR executive director Tova Davidson, was that the proposed office be replicable. “Creating one building does not change green building standards and organizational sustainability,” she says. “But if you can do one and it is scalable financially in a replicable model then you have a foundation to build something much bigger on.” MORE