Sustainability in Whistler
Many may have heard the Brundtland
Commission’s Our Common Future definition of sustainable
development as, “…development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs.” This definition, developed in 1987, was a turning
point in society’s efforts to understand and implement
Many other definitions have been developed
since, and all have to do with:
Living within environmental limits
Understanding the interconnections among economy, society
and environment, and
Distributing resources and opportunities fairly.
In 2000, Whistler adopted the Natural Step
framework for sustainability as a means of building a common
understanding of sustainability throughout the community. The
Natural Step Sustainability Objectives are based on science and
enable us to assess our daily decisions. They shape our Vision of
success as a resort community, and inform the path ahead toward
sustainability, locally and globally.
For more on sustainability and the Natural
Step click on the little man below:
Whistler's Sustainability Objectives
he Earth is a system, and natural cycles are essential to the
health of this system.
Sustainability is about natural cycles running in
So how do we, as a society, influence these cycles? Science
suggests that we influence these cycles in four ways, by:
taking relatively large flows of materials from the earth’s
crust and allowing them to build up in nature
(e.g. oil, copper)
introducing persistent compounds that are foreign to nature
(e.g. DDT or plastics)
physically inhibiting the ability of nature to run cycles
(e.g. paving wetlands, over harvesting)
creating barriers that inhibit the ability of other people to
meet their basic needs
(e.g. lack of access to education, health, or freedom of
By understanding these systems-level impacts, we understand
that in order to achieve a sustainable society, Whistler must
reduce and ultimately eliminate our contributions to:
Ongoing build-up of substances taken from the earth’s
crustOr, use less or different stuff!
Ongoing build-up of substances produced by societyOr, make less or different stuff!
Ongoing degradation of natural systems by physical
meansOr, reduce our impact on life-sustaining ecosystems.
Undermining the ability of people to meet their human
needsOr, meet human needs fairly & efficiently.
Click here for more on the scientific basis of
The non-prescriptive nature of Whistler’s Sustainability
Objectives should help to unleash the creativity of all
Whistlerites to identify opportunities for moving toward
sustainability. The resort community has used these objectives to
develop Whistler2020 and encourages their use in all