Striving for Environmental Sustainability in a Complex World
260 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 May 2017
Release Date:01 Oct 2016
Release Date:18 Jan 2017
Release Date:18 Jan 2017

Striving for Environmental Sustainability in a Complex World

Canadian Experiences

UBC Press

As the quickening pace of ecological change around the globe increases our anxiety about the long-term sustainability of the Earth’s ecosystems, internationally renowned sustainability studies authority George Francis provides a timely synthesis of Canada’s response to a growing global crisis.

With rich and varied insight, spirited prose, and a deep and personal engagement with the material, the author documents the challenges faced by those who manage complex sustainability projects. Focusing mainly on long-term collaborative studies of sixteen landscape regions in Canada designated as “Biosphere Reserves” by the UNESCO international “Man and the Biosphere” program, and another fifteen regions designated as “Model Forests” by the Canadian Forest Service, Francis also summarizes a number of smaller endeavours in regions across the country.

The author’s unique perspective is rooted in his intimate involvement in many of the initiatives he details. Project participants cope with situations that are sometimes unpredictable, often frustrating, and, in certain cases, transformative. The volume concludes on a hopeful note, looking forward to a future of solutions – those considered, proposed, promoted, and in some cases already implemented by groups striving to create sustainable societies in an increasingly complex world.

A valuable resource for scholars across a number of sustainability fields, this book will also appeal to sustainability practitioners, including government researchers, policy makers, and parks managers, with its focus on sustainability, conservation, environmental management, and resource planning.

Striving for Environmental Sustainability in a Complex World … is an important and interesting look at various innovative ideas that have had varying degrees of success pertaining to living sustainably in Canada. Glenn Perrett,
George Francis is a national treasure. Generations yet to come will benefit from his ideas on how we can strive for sustainability in a complex world. Nancy Doubleday, professor and Hope Chair in Peace and Health, Department of Philosophy, McMaster University
George Francis uses stories drawn from his experience with biosphere reserves, model forests, and communities across Canada to consolidate our understanding of complex systems and resilience thinking, and how to relate these ideas to the real world. Martin Bunch, professor of environmental studies, York University
George Francis is a distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. He is a seminal figure in the field of sustainability studies in Canada and was intimately involved in many of the projects described in this volume.


1 Adopting Complexity to Guide Inquiries: Framework, Methods, and Rationale

2 The Landscape Regions: Biosphere Reserves and Model Forests

3 Governing Landscape Regions: Learning from Experience and Surprise

4 Technologies and Innovations: Recent Origins and the Canadian Situation

5 Innovations and Sustainability in the Landscape Regions: Looking Ahead, Looking Back

6 Other Approaches toward Desirable Sustainability for Canadian Communities

7 Where Next? Possibilities Being Explored

8 Where Next for Complexity Thinking Itself?





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