The Next Wave: Tackling the Future

We face dark days ahead. The data is there, the public awareness is there, and the frustration with our inability to act is consistent from backyards to boardrooms. Deep down, we know this. What we don’t know is what we can do about it. To find the answers, we need to stand back, take a look at where we are headed, and chart a new course.

Download the full report (pdf)
Download the full report (pdf)

Welcome to “The Next Wave”, a critical analysis of current trends and a roadmap for the next generation in the environmental and sustainability movement.

The findings challenge our very core: Canada has lost its competitive cultural advantage. We like to think of Canada as being a great place to live and a world leader in creating a better world, but the reality is that we are sliding into a culture of negativity. Our ability to deal with the challenges that lie ahead rests on our ability to offer hope; to offer solutions that will help people live better with less.

I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I do have a unique perspective. I have spent thirty years in the voluntary sector working on almost every aspect of sustainability, including energy, food, nature, transportation, and urban design. I have drafted strategies, reviewed policy, organized campaigns, and sparked new ideas and organizations. I have always focused on positive solutions and voluntary change. All this experience feeds into my observations and recommendations.

The recommendations are simple, yet they carry profound implications.

1. Reclaim Canada: develop a national vision
o Develop our national vision of Canada as a great place to live and as a leader in creating a better world
o Incorporate this vision into the 2017 Sesquicentennial celebrations
o Focus on genuine progress

2. Challenge Ourselves: market solutions
o Develop co-ordinated national campaigns to promote solutions that help people live better with less, such as urban villages, transit and safe cycling, energy conservation and renewable power, local food, and local green jobs

3. Raise New Funds: finance the future
o Raise new funds
o Build the national commitment to invest in our future

4. Collaborate: organize for change
o Establish solutions networks and coalitions
o Focus on collective impact
o Promote civic action across Canada

5. Lead: build leadership across Canada
o Find champions for Canada
o Promote a distributed leadership model

6. Empower Others: a focus on voluntary transitions
o Create Innovation Centres
o Support community networking and action.
o Support projects and innovations that have the potential to support positive social and economic development across Canada.

7. Review: consultation and continuous improvement
o Report on results and trends
o Engage stakeholders and the public in reviewing our progress

Delve deeper into the recommendations and you begin to see the implications.

organicstackOn one level, this shift is already happening organically – just look around. Innovation and initiative abounds.  The shift to a sustainable path will continue to happen as people find their own solutions to living better with less. The challenge is in helping it happen faster.

The first way we can speed things up is through strategic interventions: projects and campaigns that are are a catalyst for positive change.  These include:

  •  community action networks and innovation centres in municipalities across Canada
  • national campaigns to promote positive solutions
  • government incentives to help people live better with less
  • individual catalytic projects to promote voluntary action
  • documenting leadership initiatives across Canada

The second, and more challenging approach is through coordinated transformation strategies to guide our transformation to a sustainable future, such as:

  • shifting Canada’s climate strategies to focus on a positive vision and a government-wide commitment to a sustainable future.
  • developing high level social collaboration on a common vision for Canada
  • strengthening collaboration and finding new funds to invest in our future

In the end, nothing in this report is truly new. It’s based on trends we know are happening, and on initiatives and solutions that are already in place. We know the problems, and we know the answers. We just need to push ourselves to make it happen.