The Ecocity World Summit in Abu Dhabi will take place October 11-13th of 2015
Dr. Jennie Moore, Director of Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship, British Colombia Institute of Technology, School of Construction and the Environment. In 2006, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) became the first post-secondary educational institution to join Global Footprint Network’s partner network, which now numbers 76 institutions applying the Ecological Footprint methodology around the world. Dr. Jennie Moore has led the charge, applying Footprint science to make real policy changes for the Vancouver city government.
1. What do you find most interesting about the Ecocity concept (cities in balance with nature and culture)?
What interests me most about the Ecocity concept is that humanity’s survival depends on learning how to live in balance with nature. With half of the global population already living in cities and up to two-thirds of the global population predicted to live in cities by the year 2050, how we design, build and manage our cities becomes critically important. Cities can help people live more efficiently in terms of energy and materials demanded, where high density and effective use of space enable people to meet their needs efficiently. However, this requires a conscious effort on the part of city builders and urban residents to utilize the resources available to them in a prudent manner. If we understand that cities are a nexus of consumption relying on the energy and material resources gathered from a vast hinterland, then we can better manage our use of those resources in order to conserve them and steward the urban-rural connection, upon which city dwellers depend for survival.
2. What are you going to be talking about at Ecocity World Summit ’15 in Abu Dhabi?
At the upcoming Ecocity World Summit ‘15 in Abu Dhabi, I will talking about what living in balance with nature looks like from an urban perspective, and how this translates to an assessment of ecological sustainability using the International Ecocity Framework and Standards (IEFS). (For additional information visit: www.ecocitystandards.org.) There has been a flurry of activity in the urban sustainability space, but many of the metrics being proposed for measurement of urban sustainability do not measure whether a city or its residents are actually living in balance with nature. This is something that the IEFS does and is what sets it apart from other approaches.
3. What do you hope to learn about at Ecocity World Summit ’15?
I always learn so much whenever I participate at an Ecocity World Summit. At the Ecocity World Summit ‘15 I hope to learn more about how urban sustainability metrics have been framed with regard to ecological sustainability and social justice. I am particularly intrigued by how these important issues have been considered in international frameworks and standards, and how they compare to what is being developed for the IEFS.
4. What are some ecocity elements in the city you live in?
Ecocity elements in the City of Vancouver, where I live, include nature in close proximity to the city. Vancouver is naturally blessed with abundant natural habitat immediately adjacent to the city including forested mountains, rivers and oceans. However, efforts have also been made to secure large parks retained in their natural state within the city, as well as contiguous seawalls and seawalks (which retain the natural foreshore ecology) that enable people to have access to the foreshore. Other ecocity elements include: mixed-use, high-density urban design that enables access by proximity. In Vancouver’s downtown, 86% of all trips are made by walking, cycling and public transit. Vancouver is also the birthplace of the ecological footprint concept that measure’s human demand on nature’s services. The City has committed to reducing its ecological footprint by 33% between the year’s 2011 and 2020 as part of the City’s Greenest City Action Plan with a further commitment to achieve one-planet living by 2050. One-planet living is a phrase used to define a state of existence in which people do not take more than their fair share of what nature can regenerate every year – in effect it means living in balance with nature. If Vancouver achieves this goal, it will have become an ecocity.
5. What is your definition of “eco-citizenship” (being an ecocitizen)?
Ecocitizenship is defined by an ethic of care to sustain that which sustains us. Humanity fundamentally depends on nature. Therefore, it is incumbent on all of us to steward our behaviour in such a way that we do not impede nature’s ability to function. Ecology is the study of the relationships among living organisms. Ecocitizens are mindful of their relationships with the other living organisms of the world.
6. What is your advice to young people who want to make their cities and neighborhoods more ecologically and socially healthy?
My advice to young people who want to make their cities and neighborhoods more ecologically and socially healthy is to start where you are at. Start with a focus on your own health and that of your neighbourhood. Get involved with local initiatives at school or through your community that focus on urban renewal, planting community gardens, daylighting local streams, or creating better places for people to live and play. As you grow your capacity to be more involved you will find the opportunities expand too. Being involved with your local elected officials and voting on issues that are important to you is essential. One day you might find you are in a position to participate through your work in helping businesses become more environmentally and socially responsible too.