issues and experts

Sustainable cities and work

December 03, 2013

Solving a planetary conundrum

With the year’s succession of global natural disasters such as the Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan still fresh in our minds, SFU professor Mark Roseland’s upcoming trip to the United Nations (U.N.) in New York City is timely. Roseland is an internationally recognized expert on sustainable community and regional planning in SFU’s School of Resource and Environmental Management. He also directs the SFU Centre for Sustainable Community Development.

On Dec. 5 and 6 he will be a lead expert for one of six working groups of local and regional government policymakers from around the world meeting at the U.N. They will propose sustainable community targets for the U.N. to incorporate into its next 15-year development agenda.

Sustainability in this context, says Roseland, means figuring out “how does the world lift the bottom billion of its population out of abject poverty and address climate change at the same time?”

At the 2012 Rio +20 Earth Summit, the U.N. reached an intergovernmental agreement to solidify sustainable development goals by 2015 to reduce extreme poverty and hunger globally by 2030. To achieve those goals, says Roseland, “the new U.N. Development Agenda must empower cities and regions to address human development, poverty, inequality and their interconnected economic, social, environmental and cultural dimensions at the community level.”

Roseland’s research supports the view that the U.N. must adopt an urban sustainability development goal to manage increasing global urbanization in a way that reconciles the potentially conflicting objectives of poverty reduction and climate action.

Roseland can expand on how continued unsuccessful efforts to resolve these conflicting objectives could lead to more severe natural disasters like those seen worldwide this year. He can also discuss sustainable development targets he is recommending at the U.N. workshop. They include creating jobs that help those often marginalized by conventional economic development, such as women and youth.

Mark Roseland, 778.228.1969 (cell), (best way to reach as of Dec. 4 to mid-day Pacific time Dec. 6)

Work in a warming world

SFU political scientist John Calvert can expand on two emerging viewpoints held by academics, environmental groups and trade unions, about how climate change is affecting our working world. One is that global warming will wipe out, replace or create jobs, depending on where it is occurring, how it’s affecting a region’s conventional economic base and how governments are responding to that impact. The other is that environmental protection needn’t come at the expense of the economy. These two themes and their interconnectedness were hot topics of debate at the Work in a Warming World conference in Toronto last week, which Calvert helped organize.

John Calvert, 778.782.8163,, (note: contact will be difficult Dec. 11 to 31 when Calvert is out of the country)