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Sustainability Indicators for the Fraser Basin Presentation by: Fraser Basin Council Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network Learning Workshop - June.

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Presentation on theme: "Sustainability Indicators for the Fraser Basin Presentation by: Fraser Basin Council Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network Learning Workshop - June."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sustainability Indicators for the Fraser Basin Presentation by: Fraser Basin Council Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network Learning Workshop - June 15, 2004

2 Outline Introduction to the Fraser Basin Council Background and History –Process - Consultation and Collaboration –Product - 2003 Snapshot on Sustainability 2004 Snapshot on Sustainability –Scope and Approach –Issues and Options for Reporting

3 Workshop Purpose To obtain advice and feedback on the Fraser Basin Council sustainability indicators initiative. To share expertise and lessons learned among workshop participants in key areas of common interest.

4 The Fraser Basin Council Not-for-profit NGO to advance sustainabilty in the Fraser Basin Board of Directors (36) includes four orders of Canadian government, private sector and civil society interests. Instrumental in solving complex, inter-jurisdictional sustainability issues. Catalyst and educator. Impartial role as convenor and facilitator of inclusive and constructive dialogue. Mandate to measure and report on progress towards sustainability in the Fraser Basin.

5 Charter for Sustainability Vision - “where social well-being is supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment”. Definition - “living and managing our activities in a way that balances social, economic, environmental and institutional considerations to meet our needs and those of future generations”. 12 Principles of Sustainability 26 Goals of Sustainability

6 Background and History - Process ( Consultation and Collaboration) Secure the resources (people, data, funding) Define the scope of sustainability issues and select the appropriate indicators through: –Public and stakeholder involvement (workbook, workshops, survey) –Technical review of best available data and indicators (advisors and advisory committee) –Decisions made by the FBC Board of Directors and a special committee of the Board Collect data and analyze trends Write report Disseminate report / communications Follow-up actions

7 Background and History - Product (2003 Snapshot on Sustainability: State of the Fraser Basin Report) 16 sustainability issues –Several indicators per issue Highlights –Getting Better –Getting Worse –Uncertain Questions posed in the report: –Why is this important for sustainability? –What are the trends and current conditions? –What can be done? –What are some future information needs? –Where can I learn more?

8 Some Sustainability Trends in the Fraser Basin Some highlights of indicator trends: –Population (Uncertain Implications) –Education Levels Attained (Getting Better) –Average Household Income (Getting Better) –Community Engagement: Rates of Volunteerism (Getting Worse) –Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Relationships: Treaties, Protocols and Agreements (Uncertain Trends)

9 Some Sustainability Trends in the Fraser Basin Some highlights of indicator trends: –Boil Water Advisories (Getting Worse) –Airborne Particulate Matter (Getting Better) –Fraser River Salmon Stocks (Getting Better & Worse) –Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Getting Worse) –Population Vulnerable to Flooding (Getting Worse)

10 Using Sustainability Indicators Monitor progress toward sustainability Inspire actions to advance sustainability (i.e., foster individual and institutional change) Increase information, education and awareness about sustainability and facilitate dialogue Priority setting and partnership building Identify information gaps and research priorities Policy analysis and development Land use planning and development Strategic planning

11 2004 Snapshot on Sustainability: State of the Fraser Basin Report 1.Indicator Trend Updates - Update indicators from 2003 report where new data are available, including: Population Health Education Housing Community Engagement Air Quality Water Quality (will add water quantity indicators) Wildlife Income and Employment Economic Diversification Forests and Forestry Agriculture

12 2004 Snapshot on Sustainability: 2.New Approaches to Indicators - Develop new approaches including some new topics, indicators and data sources: Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Relations Fish and Fisheries Strengthening Communities Energy (consumption by region by sector) Climate Change Urban & Rural Interface Issues Sustainability in Business Flooding and Flood Management

13 2004 Snapshot on Sustainability: 3.Regional Profiles - Profile most relevant trends and local and regional case studies for each of five Fraser Basin regions, including: Upper Fraser Cariboo - Chilcotin Thompson Fraser Valley Greater Vancouver, Squamish, Pemberton

14 2004 Snapshot on Sustainability: 4.Sustainability Stories Case studies to illustrate how communities and organizations are working to advance sustainability Examples to illustrate linkages between social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability

15 New and Emerging Data Updates 2001 Population Census and Census of Agriculture (unavailable for 2003 Snapshot) Species at Risk New Data 2004 Air Quality and Human Health Report Energy Consumption Data from Energy Utilities Market Basket Measure Early Development Indicator (previously unavailable outside of Vancouver) Surveys and polling? Other Reports Smart Growth BC, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (QOL), Environment Canada (Climate Change, Water Scarcity), and others Other Suggested Data Sources?

16 Use of Surveys and Polling Data Fraser Basin Council is considering the use of surveys and polling data to: –Fill some data gaps –Supplement / complement traditional indicators –Compare and contrast perceptions and attitudes with the facts Topics to consider surveys / polling include: –Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Relations –Community Engagement –Business and Sustainability –General perceptions, attitudes and behaviours toward sustainability Existing relevant surveys / polls on sustainability? General comments on use of surveys / polling?

17 Benchmarks, Thresholds and Targets Examples of benchmarks, thresholds and targets Scientific / technical basis (e.g., toxic levels for specific pollutants - known health risks if pm10 > 25 micrograms / cubic metre, mercury levels in water, etc.) Policy basis (e.g., diversion of 50% of waste from landfills, 10% increase in affordable housing units) Comparative basis (e.g., compare trends for different jurisdictions, or compare trends over time for a single jurisdictions - I.e., getting better or worse over time) Qualitative / subjective / intuitive basis (e.g., based on the interpretation of the project proponent and/or advisors (usually visual icons used such as happy faces, traffic lights, other gauges, up & down arrows) Combinations of above

18 Issues and Challenges with Benchmarks, Thresholds and Targets Absolute sustainability versus relative sustainability –Do we know what level is sustainable? –Is there consensus or are there diverging perspectives? Available, relevant reference points / baseline information –Do policy targets exist? –Are they relevant to the audience? –Are data available for comparisons over time or geography? –Are comparisons relevant and appropriate? Misinterpretation and over-simplification. Potential Solution? Interim targets that help define the “right” direction (I.e., moving towards sustainability)

19 Indices In the 2003 Snapshot report, the Fraser Basin Council did not develop an index or indices of sustainability Concerns / hesitations: –Concealing the details –Averages wash-out the extremes –Inappropriate to combine apples and oranges (I.e., fundamentally different units and scales) –General lack of a technical basis Potential value / benefit: –Value in presenting a simple answer (I.e., attempt to quantify the net gain or loss in overall sustainability). Potential Solutions for 2004 Snapshot report? –Present an index or several indices as a supplemental analysis (in addition to individual indicator trends). –Spider web graphs / area graphs

20 From Indicators to Actions The value of indicators is in supporting informed decision-making and behavioural change to advance sustainability How do we get from information to action? Present the indicator trends and hope the readers respond accordingly on an individual, voluntary basis. Provide simple, non-controversial suggestions. Prescribe recommended actions in response to particular indicator trends. Make explicit links between particular indicator trends; roles, responsibilities and mandates of agencies, organizations and individuals; and specific planning, policy and decision-making processes (I.e. logic models). Cautions: assigning blame, finger-pointing, misinterpretation of trends and causes.

21 Lessons Learned 1st Floor - 470 Granville Street Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5 CANADA Tel: (604) 488-5358 Fax: (604) 488-5351 Email:

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