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How To Select Indicators That Will Help You - And How Many Do Yo Need?

My last blog explored stories as one of the most powerful Virtual Time Machines. In planning, especially land use planning, our stories are captured and shared as scenarios. They are like “short stories” rather than novels. When you develop a land use planning scenario, you have a general sense of where and when but the place to start working out the details is to understand what is important first. The key priorities or values are the starting point – and everything else is connected to this. 

"Defining an appropriate set of indicators at the earliest stages of the planning process is crucial because it influences all the subsequent decisions"

In storytelling, these are the characters. In scenario planning, these are the performance indicators. In environmental impact assessment terminology – these are the valued components. Defining an appropriate set of indicators at the earliest stages of the planning process...

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This Secret Can Get Your Project Plan Approved!

When I talk with people in big business, they often tell me the biggest threat to future investment and creating more jobs is the ‘risk and uncertainty of land use approvals’. Here’s how to tip the scale back in favour of jobs and development.

First, take out your smartphone and look at it.  That little marvel in your hand might be the most influential human innovation of our time. Never have we had such easy access to so much information, convenience, productivity aids and endless entertainment! 

Recently I was in Davis California as an invited guest speaker.  It was my first time in northern Cali and I wanted to take advantage and see the area.  Not so long ago a paper map bought at the gas station would have been critical.  But, armed with my IPhone on roam and Google Maps – my wife Karen and I took off on the backroads to explore Folsom, Napa, and Muir Woods aided by on-demand and free access to GPS satellites that cost $12...

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5 Actions To Earn Social License For Your Project

How can you get people on side and supporting your project and avoid being mired in conflict and resistance? Start by doing these 5 things:

1.    Be Grateful

  • Gratitude is the language of happiness. Being grateful will make you and all those around you happier and that will shine favourably on your project too
  • Showing appreciation for everyone’s contribution brings more meaning to the work, it increases everyone’s self esteem and this adds energy and enthusiasm
  • Humbleness makes it easier to network and removes opposition
  • Gratitude is the best attitude :)

2.    Have Integrity

  • Builds trust
  • Builds loyalty
  • Others will see you as a leader and they will share your ideas with others building momentum for your project
  • “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching”

3.    Add Value

  • Invest in the place & people where you will do business.
  • Have a vested interest in the wellbeing...
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US Election A Reminder - Nobody Has A Crystal Ball

None of us has a crystal ball we can use to predict the future. Our ability to anticipate future outcomes is limited by our understanding of the complex systems we are a part of. And these systems are in constant flux - subject to both cyclical and random disruptors. The outcome of the US Election is a good reminder for us that our understanding of these systems is shallow and uncertainty is real. Despite 24 hour/day monitoring, researching and discussion for 18 months – the experts were not able to predict what happened.


And yet, we know that the choices we make today will directly influence the outcomes of the future. So, how do we go about planning for an unpredictable future with less than a full understanding of the dynamics at play? Well, to start there are 5 key drivers of change that need to be considered; social, economic, ecological, technical and political. And rarely do these drivers act independently either – it is usually a mix...

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Did You Watch Before The Flood?

“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” – Steve Jobs


Did you watch Before The Flood? You should – don’t rely on the pundits to tell you what to think about it – evaluate the message for yourself. And do yourself a favour and leave your “position” on climate change at the door for 90 minutes.

Leonardo DiCaprio uses story telling to convey his message that climate change is something we should all be taking seriously. Using powerful visuals, the movie shares some of the less desirable cause // effect relationships between humans and the Earth through the industrial age. It goes on to describe the “Business As Usual” scenario for the future – that is, if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, then we should expect some very unpleasant outcomes. 

Most importantly, the movie...

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Project Conflicts Driven By Answering The Wrong Question

THE ANSWER: THE PROPOSED PROJECT WILL HAVE NO SIGNIFICANT NEGATIVE EFFECT


Read just about any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and this is the answer you will find. And of course the project will bring significant benefits or we wouldn’t be contemplating it. #Duh 

But think about this for a moment. If there are no significant negative effects, shouldn’t the environment be pretty much pristine? It’s not pristine – so what gives here?

We the public ask the assessors the wrong question. Now, I am most familiar with the process in Canada, but it is my understanding that to a large extent, EIA’s around the world approach project assessments similarly. To greatly simplify it, the question we ask those who must assess the benefits and costs of proposed projects goes something like this, “compared to today, will there be any residual (left over) negative effects after we apply mitigation (first aid)?”

The key here...

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Splendour Without Diminishment

We British Columbians have a common vision for our future – one that sees us benefit and enjoy the land, air and waters that sustain us today – but one that also recognizes that today’s use of these resources must be tempered by the knowledge that we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, rather we borrow it from our children. This common vision is reflected in our commitment to sustainable development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It’s even deftly captured in the Provincial motto of BC – Splendor Sine Occasu – translated from Latin to mean Splendor Without Diminishment. 

And despite this awareness, the path towards our future seems strewn with conflict, misunderstanding, mistrust and frustration. Disagreement over land use is one of the biggest sore spots. Whether it is the conflict at Burnaby Mountain over Kinder Morgan’s pipeline survey work,...

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11 Crucial Requirements To Get Cumulative Effects Right

 

Recently I had the opportunity to participate as a speaker and a delegate at two excellent conferences in British Columbia, Canada centered on cumulative effects assessment;

Columbia Mountain Institute Applied Ecology’s Environmental and Social Assessment Forum http://cmiae.org/event/enviroandsocialassessment/


Canadian Institute Energy Group’s Cumulative Effects and the Future of Natural Resource Management http://www.canadianinstitute.com/2016/343/cumulative-effects-and-the-future-of-natural-resource-management

First let me share that both events were extremely well organized and a pleasure to be a part of.   Both Hailey Ross (CMIAE) and Elizabeth Dempsey (CI Energy Group) are outstanding organizers. Both events had excellent speakers and delegates providing good learning and dialogue from range of perspectives.

I found much of what was discussed was in-line with what I believe are crucial requirements for getting Cumulative Effects...

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A 3 Point Plan To Fix Environmental Assessments In Canada

 

Prime Minister, you are right, Canada's environmental assessment (EA) process needs a major overhaul.  The current process leaves everyone feeling muzzled, confined and lacking trust.  Here's a 3 - point plan to fix EA's in Canada: 

  1. Make the process inclusive from the beginning
  2. Get cumulative effects assessments right
  3. Seek solutions that balance the three pillars of sustainability - economy, society, and environment. 

If we can get these 3 right, then we'll be well on our way to rebuiling trust from Canadians, building buy-in for responsible resource development and respecting the rights of those most affected.

The root of current mistrust and conflict in the resource development arena lies in restrictive land use decision-making processes that exclude many Canadians and that are not adequately examining the cumulative effects of all land uses and natural disturbances across meaningful time and space. Here’s how we change that.

First, let’s...

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