Biosphere Eco-City Initiative

We achieve sustainability together.

The Biosphere Eco-City mission (BEC) is “to engage people to create a culture of sustainability, that will motivate key sectors of society and will complement other initiatives.”

The approach was tested for 11 years in Ottawa, Canada and has expanded to Toronto. Feel free to apply the elements to your city.”

How it work

The BEC website explains how to achieve sustainability through people. The Biosphere Eco-City (BEC) approach uses Themes and Tools to engage people and coordinate organizations on sustainability in an urban-centred region. Key BEC objectives are create a culture of sustainability and promote urban-rural cooperation.

Themes represent all direct-action areas for sustainability. So, they appeal to all areas of interest, and bring together people and groups in common pursuits. Visual representation (.pdf) of these themes and their direct actions are below:

Tools are simple ways to engage people, all of them supporting understanding, involvement, innovation and sharing of sustainability information.

You can tailor your tour of the BEC site based on the detail you want. The pages are simple and topical, and at the bottom are PDFs to explore different aspects of the topic. On the home page you can click on the Biosphere and Us, to learn about main components of our living systems: Biosphere, Biomes, Ecosystems, Humanity. The Background page gives you an overview of BEC. Tabs for other pages bring you more detail on the BEC Model and on a Culture of Sustainability. Similarly, the Themes tab take you to discussion papers used to create public awareness for sustainability planning in the National Capital. The BEC Ideas tab leads you to a blog on one person’s plan for a sustainable Hamilton (Canada) with BEC.

This site also links to BEC initiatives in Ottawa and Toronto. Any city may use the information on the website to plan their own BEC approaches. Under the BEC Model tab there are tips on how to coordinate a Biosphere Eco-City. And the About page lists Manuals and Handbooks that you may request to develop some BEC projects, such as sustainability plans and sustainability tours.

The BEC website is full of pictures to illustrate its ideas. It is easy to read or browse, even at a middle school level. A school in Toronto is already using the site, and it is recommended for school use in Saskatchewan and Ottawa. Ryerson University will soon integrate the BEC website into its Green Economy Bridging Program. If you are a parent of a student or a teacher, you may wish to promote use of the website at your school too.

Watch a video below about the Biosphere Eco-City, Principles for the Rideau Corridor by Jim Birtch.

A volunteer talks about the value of a children’s garden as a Sustainable Food System.

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