Integrating Social Dimensions into Sustainability (March 13-14, 2009)
2 days CORE
Sustainability is commonly recognized as having three dimensions: economic,
ecological and social. While social justice movements and social planning efforts are
numerous and quite effective within their own spheres, social dimensions are not well
integrated with sustainability movements and initiatives. This is not the least because,
in contrast to the other dimensions, social issues are more subjective and necessitate
addressing power differences and the fair allocation of benefits and costs between
different people, groups, communities, and nations.
There are many legitimate social issues that when denied or not effectively addressed
can derail projects with even the most laudable environmental intentions. These include
‘soft’ issues such as race and ethnicity, class, culture, personal health, affordable
housing, employment, individual identity and social cohesion. In this course,
sustainability will be viewed not primarily as a product, but rather as a process where
power and issues of social justice and equity are considered essential to successful
To teach participants how to address the ‘soft’ issues of social justice and equity when
tackling ‘hard’ environmental issues such as transportation choice, land use, air quality
and resource and energy conservation. And to discover some of the many potential
win-win solutions that bridge social and environmental goals that are being pursued by
cutting edge ‘integrative’ organizations and their leaders.
By the completion of the course, participants will have been introduced to:
• Equity issues related to sustainable community development, both locally and
• What is meant by ‘social sustainability’ and how to measure progress
• Overview of strategies and actions to successful integrate social justice elements
into sustainability efforts, including innovative new solutions
• The importance of different perspectives and how to address them
• Case studies of strategies that have successfully addressed the social dimensions
Integrating Social Dimensions into Sustainability DRAFT
Day 1, Friday, March 13, 2009
9:00 - 10:15Introductions and Course Overview
Framing the Equity Challenge for Sustainable Community Development
(Rosemary Cooper, Principal, CreatingPLACES)
Key equity issues related to sustainable community development.
Some of the consequences for our communities and our planet.
Group discussion: Framing guiding questions for the course.
10:15 - 10:30 Break
10:30 - 11:30 Panel and Dialogue by ‘Social Sustainability’ Practitioners.
(Laura MacKay, Community Engagement Initiatives Manager, Whistler 2020;
Fiona Koza - sustainability practitioner with local & international non-profits).
The panel will be asked to address the following questions:
How do you define ‘social sustainability’? What principles or frameworks, if any,
inform your definition?
What are some successful strategies/actions taken by your organization to advance
social sustainability? How did you overcome key challenges and achieve success?
How do you know if you’re making progress?
How are social justice goals being linked with environmental goals in your efforts? What
new directions could be taken to enhance progress in this ‘integrative’ area?
11:30 - 12:30 Discussion with Panelists and Course Participants
Discussion will use a modified World Café format, a dialogue process where each panelist sits with course
participants at separate tables to discuss key topics in greater depth. Participants have the option of
moving to a new table at noon.
12:30 - 1:30 LUNCH
1:30 - 2:00 Debrief from Morning Dialogue and Assignment Review
2:00 - 2:30 BREAK & Walk to BOB Offices
2:30 - 5:00 Inclusive Inner-City Revitalization
(held at 325 Main Street)
BOB’s approach to inclusive inner-city revitalization & associated partner
New efforts to advance a green collar economy.
Small group discussions and report back to address key questions about advancing an
inclusive and green inner-city revitalization effort.
Integrating Social Dimensions into Sustainability DRAFT
Day 2, Saturday, March 14, 2009
9:00 - 10:45 Environmental and Climate Justice
(Marc Lee, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)
10:45 - 11:00 Break
11:00 - 12:45pm Building an Equitable Conservation Economy
(Brenda Reid-Kuecks, Vice President, EcoTrust Canada)
12:45 - 1:45 Lunch
1:45 - 4:00 Moving From Local to Global Sustainability
(Dagmar Timmer, Managing Director, One Earth Initiative; Wendy Mendes,
Social Planner, DNV, & Adjunct Professor, SCARP; Jonathan Frantz, Adjunct
Professor at UBC and Consultant with Ear-to-the-Ground Planning.)
4:00 - 5:00 Course Debrief & Assignment Questions
Assignment: Choose a sustainability challenge or issue such as inner-city revitalization,
climate change, sustainable transportation, sustainable land development, air quality,
community or neighborhood planning, tourism development, resource conservation
(water, forests, and fisheries), air quality, biodiversity conservation etc.
Your assignment should be no longer than 5 typed pages (excluding pictures or graphs)
and can take a number of forms:
o a memo to a manager or another influential decision-maker in your organization;
o a briefing paper or editorial piece (to City Council, the Mayor, a Provincial Minister,
the Head of a relevant professional association etc.);
o a formal report to the Board of an organization (i.e. Council, Board of Directors).
Please prepare a case for how to address the challenge or issue in a manner that gives
effective consideration to social justice dimensions, and include:
o What are the key social justice concerns that need addressing?
o Why is it important to address these concerns?
o What are the five most important actions that can be taken to address the social
justice concerns and advance sustainable community development?
Focus on solutions that are creative and incorporate systems-thinking about
community sustainability (the linkages and feedback loops between social dimensions
and other areas of community capital).