Ecocity Insights

Ecocities and Inter-regional Ecology

Ecocities are concerned with the long-term health of people and Earth’s ecosystems upon which all life depends. “An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water, and sunlight” (Ecocity Builders).

Because ecocities take responsibility for stewarding the natural resources on which they depend, wherever in the world those resources are situated, they participate in “inter-regional ecology” (Kissinger and Rees, 2010; Kissinger et al., 2011). This means that ecocities are concerned with regenerative processes in and around the city AND in the areas from which the city draws sustenance and to which it releases wastes that are ultimately assimilated by natural processes including carbon sequestration and water purification. For this reason, the description of an ecocity includes the intention of residents to participate in ecologically supportive lifestyles that respect planetary boundaries. This includes supporting sustainable forestry management, building soil health, and protecting clean water supplies all around the world, not just within the geographic boundary of the city. 

Thinking about the city within the context of its urban ecosystem, meaning the entire system of biological relationships wherever in the world they are located, that are involved in sustaining the city and its inhabitants, is a hallmark of ecocity thinking. 


Ecocity Builders website. “What is an Ecocity?” Online resource accessed December 2, 2018.

Kissinger, Meidad and William E. Rees. 2010. “An interregional ecological approach for modeling sustainability in a globalizing world—Reviewing existing approaches and emerging directions” Ecological Modeling 221(21): 2615-2623.

Kissinger, Medan; William E. Rees, Vanessa Timmer. 2011. Environmental Science and Policy 14(8): 965-976.

About the author

Jennie Moore

Dr. Jennie Moore is Director, Institute Sustainability at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Dr. Moore has extensive experience in the realm of ecological sustainability and urban systems including climate change and energy management, green buildings and eco-industrial networking. Prior to joining BCIT she worked for over a decade at Metro Vancouver as Manager of Strategic Initiatives. Her research explores the potential for Vancouver to achieve one-planet living. Jennie is a senior associate of the One Earth Initiative and a core advisor to the International Ecocity Framework and Standards.