Sustainability within a Generation

POSTED: 19 NOVEMBER 2005 - 7:30pm HST

The Centre for Sustainable Living, in Toronto, simulates natural wetland indoors

A new vision for Canada

Despite our reputation, Canada is struggling environmentally. In an extensive 2005 study called The Maple Leaf in the OECD: Comparing Progress Toward Sustainability, Canada finished 28th out of 30 OECD countries on indicators such as air, water, waste and climate change. Canadians are known for their love of nature, but there is a large gap between our environmental values and our environmental record.

To close this gap and put Canada on a true path to sustainability by the year 2030, the David Suzuki Foundation has developed an action plan called Sustainability within a Generation: A New Vision for Canada. Written by leading environmental thinker, David Boyd, the report clearly outlines the solutions to Canada’s environmental challenges.

Over-consumption of natural resources and energy are the root causes of Canada’s environmental woes. But reducing consumption does not mean reducing our quality of life. To shift to a sustainable economy, we need to focus on generating genuine wealth rather than continuing to measure progress exclusively in financial terms. Genuine wealth is a much broader concept that focuses on five key asset areas: human, natural, social, manufactured, and financial capital.

Canada has the ability to become a world leader in sustainability and environmental conservation . We can do this by:

download the executive summary (PDF 118KB)

download the full report (PDF 1MB)

Improving efficiency: Canada has a poor record of resource use, and over 90 per cent of material extracted for use in manufacturing goes to waste. We can improve by applying energy efficiency standards to appliances, passenger vehicles, homes and commercial buildings.

Improving water efficiency standards, shifting to renewable energy sources like wind, solar and micro-hydro would also help us achieve this goal.
Eliminating waste and pollution: Eliminating waste means designing production and consumption processes and patterns so that waste is not created. In addition to reducing environmental impacts, reducing waste can produce economic opportunities, create jobs, and save money.

Building sustainable cities: We can promote regional and national planning that integrates transportation, land-use and environmental planning; and ensuring municipal infrastructure is sustainable and based on smart growth. It’s also important to put an end to urban sprawl, which causes air pollution, water pollution, habitat destruction, gridlock, and loss of productive farmland.

For more information about David Boyd, visit