The Way We Green: Edmonton’s plan to achieve the nation’s highest standard of environmental preservation and sustainability

The Opportunity

In 2010, the City of Edmonton’s Ecological Footprint was 3.2 times greater than the world average. The leaders of the City saw this as a major issue and knew it needed to be addressed in The Way We Green, the City of Edmonton’s environmental strategic plan. In developing The Way We Green, city staff sought the advice of The Natural Step Canada to help them refine the plan.

The Response

The Natural Step Canada provided expert advice to the planning team, and the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development was applied to The Way We Green, giving it a robust and solid foundation for implementation. The Way We Green has received the 2012 Environment Award from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) and the Government of Alberta's 2012 Minister's Award for Municipal Excellence in the category of Outstanding Achievement.

The Process

In 2010, The Natural Step was invited to help review the City of Edmonton’s draft strategic sustainability plan, The Way We Green. As part of an expert review panel, The Natural Step offered advice and guidance to the City about adopting a scientifically robust, principled definition of sustainability to help guide long-term decision-making. The City heeded this advice and chose to apply the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development to The Way We Green.

Once the Framework was adopted, the plan was examined for strengths and gaps based on a backcasting from sustainability principles approach. The Natural Step helped by setting evaluation criteria for a successful community sustainability plan based on best practices and organizational experience. Using these criteria, the planning team made revisions to the The Way We Green and submitted it to the Edmonton City Council. In July 2011, the plan was officially approved.

The Natural Step also provided guidance to the City of Edmonton on its master implementation plan of The Way We Green, and on how to embed sustainability into the City’s governance and culture. A report was produced on how to embed sustainability into governance and culture, and how to embed the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development into management systems and planning processes.

In September 2012, The Natural Step conducted a training session with City of Edmonton staff to help deepen their understanding of The Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (in particular, socio-ecological principles of sustainability) and  to evaluate how the City of Edmonton could adopt a leadership position in the municipal sustainability world. As of early 2013, The Way We Green team is putting the final touches on the implementation plan to submit to council.

The Feedback

The Natural Step has gone ahead and led the work that has allowed plans like The Way We Green to move forward. A lot of work has been done to get Edmonton to this point, and The Natural Step has been there all along the way.”

- Gordon Howell, Senior Solar Development Engineer, Member of the City of Edmonton’s Renewable Energy Task Force

Learn more about The Natural Step Canada’s Service Path for Sustainable Communities and how we can help your community develop a bold sustainability vision, strategy, and action plan. Please contact us to discuss your unique needs.