Forum Wrapup - David Ramslie and the Greening of Vancouver

by Todd

With seemingly endless bad news about federal environmental policy in Canada, a brilliantly optimistic perspective was not what we expected from our March Forum speaker David Ramslie. But optimism, backed up with wide-ranging statistics, deep knowledge and engaging anecdotes are exactly what he delivered.

As the Senior Sustainability Programs Manager for the City of Vancouver, David’s awareness must be broad. Food production, building codes, water use, transportation, cultural activities and more intersect with each other in complex and often unexpected ways, making his job one of managing the changes necessary to live in what he calls the Post-Copenhagen world.

What defines that world, he notes, is not the failure of national governments that so much media attention focused on, but the way that the mayors of 300+ cities came together and left with the motivation and ideas to make significant changes at the local level.

When it comes to dealing with climate change, the rule seems that the more local the responsibility, the higher the capacity and will to act. We learned that Vancouver is already a global leader in sustainability, having exceeded the Kyoto targets while growing our economy. That success has driven the ambitious Greenest City program, which lays out targets for 2020 and 2050 that impact all aspects of city life. We found a lot to like in the care taken to balance and integrate those changes so they work together rather than as silo policy changes.

David wasn’t shy about calling some of those targets audacious. But he also noted that the infrastructure changes the program will bring by 2020 will pay a kind of compounding interest in change, and make the incredible targets set for 2050 much easier to achieve.

Daily life makes it hard to see and believe that real and positive changes are happening, and it made us especially proud to live where we do. Where many see uncertainty and doom in our near future, David says that the future has never looked brighter for Vancouver. We’re very grateful for the time and energy David brought to Forum, and for attendees staying almost an hour after the talk to continue the discussion.

About Forum

Forum is our speaker series that features guest speakers and small group interaction with focus on topics from outside our normal tech-filled lives. Learn more about the events or contact us to inquire about becoming a sponsor.