Whistler is in the process of adopting The Natural Step framework for a sustainable society, the goal of which is to ensure the long-term viability of the resort by having zero net impact on the surrounding environment. Of course its substantially more involved than that, and needs to touch on almost every aspect of our lives to be successful supply, demand, consumption and waste.
Launched as Whistler; Its Our Nature, the core of this initiative is the recognition that people come here for the experience first and the amenities second. Keeping that mountain experience real is a challenge when you consider all the pressures we put on the environment. Trails get wider every year. Wildlife retreats a little further as humans encroach. Developments gobble up the valley bottom and the flanks of our local mountains.
While we cant stop using the valley, we can make sure that the rate at which we impact on our local environment is sustainable. Since nature does have the ability to replenish itself over time, the trick is to make sure you dont use more than it can replace.
There are four system conditions within the larger Natural Step framework that every credible scientist in the world would agree with, and which we also have to agree with if we want the sustainability initiative to be successful.
What are the four basic system conditions?
"In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing 1) concentrations of substances extracted from the earths crust; 2) concentrations of substances produced by society; 3) degradation by physical means." The fourth condition is that human needs are met world-wide.
This is the abridged version of our sustainability initiative, and only a small part of the whole story. For a more complete version, plus ideas how you can be a part of this initiative, visit the official Whistler; Its Our Nature Web site.
Sustainability is one of the most important concepts in the world today. Governments know what it is and what it means, and many have pledged to become more sustainable in the future. Its been looked at and adopted by scientists, economists, industry and by individuals around the globe.
If Whistler can become a sustainable community it stands to reason that other communities can follow our model to become sustainable themselves.
Its a grass roots movement, set in motion by a Swedish oncologist who decided that the environmental debate was spending too much time arguing the small points to have any impact he compared the debate to the chatter of monkeys arguing over the leaves of the tree while the trunk died beneath them.