November 16, 2006

2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference

I am attending the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council at the convention center in Vancouver today and tomorrow. The sessions today were a mix of depressing and inspiring. The focus of the conference is sustainability, and how governments, businesses, First Nations, and NGOs in the basin can work toward a sustainable future.

The council released its 2006 state of the basin snapshot (which can be downloaded from the above website), and overall, the grade was C-. Ouch. There is much we need to do.

I will share just a few highlights from each day that caught my interest.

First, the basin is projected to see 37% population growth over the next 25 years.

FBC Chair Dr. Charles Jago:

This conference is about inspiring action. We need collaboration for positive change. Realize synergies. We need to focus on what is most crucial. We have the ability to significantly remake our world. It is individuals who must act to change institutions. In turn institutions can change how individuals act.

James Hoggan, James Hoggan and Associates Inc.

Communicating Sustainability: People seem to be talking to themselves. People become less able to connect with broader perspectives. Gap between sustainability community and the general public. Need to bridge this gap to move forward to change how we function as a society. Research into how Canadians are thinking about sustainability.

Bad news ? the word sustainability gets in the way. Very high level of mistrust of government, mistrust of business, mistrust of other Canadians, yet Canadians underestimate each others? concerns about sustainability.

Canadians are very quick to understand sustainability and their values are in line with it, but they are looking for trustworthy leadership and are not seeing it.

Once the concept is explained to them, 82% of Canadians see sustainability as a top goal. Research shows 84% agree we need stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment and 65% agree businesses would be more profitable in the long run if they adhered to sustainability principles. Only 5% said they were not concerned about sustainability, yet thought 50% of other Canadians were not concerned!

How Canadians view sustainability:
Atheists (completely reject the concept) 2%
Heathen (oblivious to the concept) 16%
The Choir (sold on sustainability) 15%
The Congregation (receptive to sustainability) 67%

The Congregation is crucial because these people are enthusiastic but unfamiliar with the issues and too much negativity demoralizes them.

We must reach out on sustainability: Focus on the congregation. Second, given the degree of mistrust, we must communicate through action. Third, we need to define the term sustainability and use a human voice, use their language. The story needs to be hopeful, the benefits must be brought to the fore, and people must know they are not alone.

Canadians do not believe there is anyone at the wheel and are calling for leadership, particularly in sustainability.

The conclusion was that there is hope!

Chris Kelly Vancouver School Board:

There is more than a message here, there is an imperative that needs to be addressed. Humans are always intervening with cycles. The world is elegant and fragile at the same time. There are three themes in the snapshot report. A call for education/a call for learning. A call for leadership. A call for hope.

Young Canadians are starving for meaningful engagement. I?m not talking about learning instead of doing, but learning as active participation. There is no uniform way people learn. Learning is an individual and social process. Extend this to every organization. Importance of engaged learning with systems. Action is common learning. This is a time when a current generation must not pass on its way of doing things to a new generation. Leadership is the act of taking responsibility for the quality of other people?s experience.

Hope is the essential notion. Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit.

Kelly was an excellent speaker!

Paul Kariya, Pacific Salmon Foundation

If we?re going to have creativity we have to have fun. Think Salmon.

We, humankind are the problem, but we are also the solution.


Sorry for the jumble, and apologies to speakers that I left out!

Posted by Paul at November 16, 2006 10:17 PM