THE DAVID SUZUKI Foundation is an independent Canadian charity, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has worked since 1990 to protect biological diversity and quality of life. Through science and education, the foundation works broadly to advance principles of sustainability. Dr. David Suzuki, one of Canada's best-known contemporary environmental advocates, built his career first as a geneticist, and then as a broadcaster, journalist, and popular educator. In November 2004, Dr. Suzuki was voted fifth in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC's) Top Ten Greatest Canadians. Other significant awards include: 15 honorary doctorate degrees, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) prize for science, a United Nations Environment Program medal, various honors from Canada's First Nation peoples, and induction as an Officer of the Order of Canada (Canada's highest civilian honor for outstanding lifetime achievement).
Dr. Suzuki has hosted the CBC's award-winning The Nature of Things since 1979, and excels at relaying scientific concepts to the lay public. Much like other environmental icons (notably, Rachel Carson, Carl Sagan, and E.O. Wilson), Suzuki has helped to shift popular consciousness in favor of environmen tal protection. He founded the David Suzuki Foundation, in 1990, to identify and advance new ways for society to live in greater harmony with the natural world. Supported by donations from approximately 40,000 individuals from across Canada and around the world, and by grants from other charitable organizations, the foundation does not generally accept government grants (though some scientific research is funded directly through the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).
The David Suzuki Foundation is one of a number of key nongovernmental organizations that seek to advance a sustainability agenda. To this end, the foundation collaborates with scientists and academics, as well as representatives from business and industry, government, and other nongovernmental organizations. Ultimately, the foundation adopts an integrative and pragmatic approach to environmental protection, supporting a clean, competitive economy that does not undermine the ecological services upon which it ultimately depends.
The foundation regularly critiques Canadian environmental policies and programs, and puts forward innovative solutions to promote greater eco-effi-ciency, full-cost accounting, and closed-loop manufacturing. The foundation operates five interrelated program areas: protecting human health, conserving our oceans, promoting global conservation, building a sustainable economy, and solving global warming.
The David Suzuki Foundation works toward evaluating impacts, mitigating risks, and positing creative solutions to the impending challenges of climate change. Above all, substantial reductions in greenhouse gases require a fundamental shift in the ways in which energy is produced and consumed. The foundation has advocated strongly for Canada to meet its international commitment to adhere to the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas reductions. The foundation has actively published on climate change since 1997, and in 2002 jointly commissioned The Bottom Line on Kyoto: Economic Benefits of Canadian Action, and Kyoto and Beyond: The Low Emission Path to Innovation and Efficiency. The foundation challenges global warming skeptics, and seeks to shed light on their underlying motives by drawing explicit attention to their funding.
The foundation encourages organizers of large public gatherings, including conferences, sports events, concerts, festivals, celebrations, and conventions, to be carbon neutral by mitigating and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-friendly practices (such as waste minimization and energy and water conservation) can be consciously integrated into virtually every aspect of an event, from the choice of venue, to policies around registration, transportation, food and beverage services, and procurement. Remaining emissions can be offset, rendering the event effectively carbon neutral. In so doing, event organizers demonstrate environmental leadership, with a view to inspiring others to take comparable steps. Multiple benefits ensue, including reduced costs, improved public image, and mitigated emissions. The foundation also encourages people to fly less, and to opt, instead, to connect virtually (through videoconferencing or webcasting), and to vacation close to home.
The foundation's Nature Challenge has spurred some 341,142 individuals to critically examine their lifestyle choices around food, transportation, and energy use. Participants opt to: reduce home energy use by 10 percent (for example, by installing low-flow showerheads and faucets); buy an energy efficient home and appliances, and a fuel-efficient vehicle; eat locally-grown, seasonal, organic foods that are low on the food chain; walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit; and live in close proximity to work or school.
All of these actions are framed as simple solutions to help fight global warming. David R. Boyd's Sustain-ability within a Generation explores at length the foundation's vision for transforming human-environment relations. This document examines root causes for Canada's unsustainable ways (that is, an economy that relies almost exclusively on consumption of energy and natural resources), and identifies critical goals and necessary policy shifts toward a more prosperous, just, and sustainable future.
SEE ALSO: Canada; Canadian Association for Renewable Energies; International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
bibliography. D.R. Boyd, Sustainability within a Generation (David Suzuki Foundation, 2005); Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, www.eolss.net (cited July 2007); Jim Fulton, "Using Science to Advocate Action on Climate Change," Ecosystem Health (v.5/2, 1999); Tellus Institute and MRG & Associates, The Bottom Line on Kyoto: Economic Benefits of Canadian Action (David Suzuki Foundation and World Wildlife Fund, 2002); Ralph Torrie, Richard Parfett, and Paul Steenhof, Kyoto and Beyond (David Suzuki Foundation and Canadian Climate Action Network, 2002).
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