Rio Earth Summit 20 years later inspires projects

by: Sara on 06/20/2012

The 4th Edition of Toward Sustainable Communities by Mark Roseland, who is the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Communities at Simon Fraser University, has come off press just in time for the 20 Year Anniversary celebration of the Rio Earth Summit. The book, originally published in 1992 will be relaunched at the summit in Brazil this week.

The 20-year anniversary celebrations of the Rio Earth Summit being marked in Brazil will be a fitting backdrop for the release of two new projects by Simon Fraser University sustainable communities guru Mark Roseland.Roseland is heading to Brazil to participate in events associated with the 2012 Rio +20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (June 20-22) and will co-convene the Third International Urban Research Symposium of ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (June 14-17).

While there he will unveil the fourth edition of his now-classic book, Toward Sustainable CommunitiesSolutions for Citizens and Their Governments.

He’ll also launch a new online network called “Pando | Sustainable Communities,” created to facilitate and inspire collaboration and knowledge sharing among researchers, practitioners and government decision-makers. Its goal is to spark local initiatives that will cultivate vibrant, caring, livable and economically resilient communities.

Roseland wrote his now-classic book in 1992, the same year as the landmark summit. It is used widely in post-secondary institutions and as a reference for planners and engaged citizens across the continent.

“When I wrote the first edition of Towards Sustainable Communities in 1992, the first Rio Earth Summit had just happened and the kinds of initiatives I profiled were relatively rare,” says Roseland.

“While drafting this edition, it became clear that innovations for sustainable communities are now happening so quickly that one book can’t begin to cover them all,” he says.

His Pando network concept developed as a logical outgrowth of his book, which showcases hundreds of proven, adaptable initiatives already making communities of all sizes more sustainable.

“In addition to my book’s case, theory and method for building more sustainable communities, it became clear that we could benefit from an accessible, live platform to share great ideas. And we should do more than offer a collection of great strategies – we need to connect the creative thinkers and doers behind them. Pando will meet that need.”

Named for one of the earth’s largest and most resilient living organisms – a massive, 80,000 year-old aspen grove in Utah that is connected by a single root system – the Pando network has been quietly gathering steam since February.

Roseland issued charter member invitations to a select group of academics, planners and government representatives focused on local sustainability issues.

He will unveil its potential during the ICLEI World Congress in Brazil by logging on live and walking through the possibilities.

“We've learned a lot over the past 20 years about how to build better as well as greener communities,” says Roseland. “The explosive growth of citizen-led initiatives and community-based planning for sustainability tells me we really can get there."

Roseland’s projects received funding from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) as well as support from the SFU Community Trust (UniverCity).

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