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Suzuki behind Whistler’s sustainability initiative

World famous scientist, environmental advocate urges everyone to get involved at Whistler presentation



Dr. David Suzuki – Canada’s pre-eminent science educator and one of the most respected and recognized advocates for the environment in the world – gives Whistler about a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving sustainability on its own.

"The very nature of this resort is based on consumption, and the exploitation of natural resources. You think skiing is sustainable? Tourism?" he asked, taking aim at the proliferation of SUVs, monster homes, and other displays of conspicuous consumption in Whistler.

That said, Dr. Suzuki said he is also behind Whistler’s sustainability initiative all the way, and will be watching closely to see what kinds of ideas come out of the process. We may not be able to achieve any true measure of sustainability without the co-operation of every community in B.C., but we can do a lot better.

"I think it’s commendable what you’re doing, and I’m delighted to be part of the envisioning process," said Dr. Suzuki.

"You know, I like to brag about Whistler, because you recognized the problem and you’re doing something about it, adopting The Natural Step. I’m a big fan of Dr. Henrik Robert and The Natural Step. My advice to your is to keep striving, keep trying to close the loop."

Dr. Suzuki was the final speaker in the Whistler Sustainability Speaker Series, hosted by Whistler. It’s Our Nature and the Early Adopters of The Natural Step. He presented the Dave Suzuki Foundation’s new campaign, Sustainability within a Generation, before a packed house of over 1,000 people at the Telus Conference Centre on Monday, April 26. The more than 800 seats were all taken and hundreds more people sat on the floor or stood at the back of the room.

The Sustainability within a Generation campaign was launched in February with Dr. Suzuki giving a one-hour presentation to Prime Minister Paul Martin and another presentation to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The campaign includes a step-by-step approach to reforming the economy, adopting sustainable principles in government and industry, protecting and enhancing the environment, and reducing our collective impact to sustainable levels.

The campaign has been well-received at the federal level, and the foundation is currently working with federal ministries to look at ways to apply sustainable principles.

Dr. Suzuki was introduced by Whistler-Blackcomb senior vice-president of operations Doug Forseth, who credits Dr. Suzuki with helping to drive the mountains’ own sustainability initiatives, and W-B environmental co-ordinator Allana Hamm.

Although Whistler-Blackcomb is already actively recycling and working on a program to reduce energy use by 16 per cent this year with B.C. Hydro, Forseth said a letter from Dr. Suzuki suggested that the mountains could be doing more.