Exploring a sustainable
future for Canada
John B. Robinson
As Canadians navigate the twenty-first century, they share with citizens of other countries an essential priority to develop sustainable and environmentally benign patterns of resource utilization and socio-economic development. This chapter describes one attempt to investigate the feasibility and impacts of a future for Canada. Based upon principles of environmental and sociopolitical sustain ability, the Sustain able Society Project (SSP) provides a specific context for exploring the issues addressed by other chapters in this section. For more than six years, from September 1988 to December 1994, the SSP explored the prospects for the development of a future Canadian society that is sustainable in environmental economic, and social terms. The project enlisted scenario analysis to trace the path of Canada from 1990 into a sustainable future around the year 2030. The SSP assessed the relationships among values, lifestyles, and technological and economic development in the scenario, as well as the feasibility and sociopolitical implications of the scenario itself.
The SSP emerged out of a particular Canadian context but reflects a more general interest in normative futures and analysis intended to explore desirable rather than likely futures. This is in keeping with the normative issues entailed in managing global environmental risk and envisioning desirable futures (see chapter 1). After setting out the backdrop for the emergence of the SSP, this chapter moves on to theoretical and methodological issues and then presents some of the initial findings. A more detailed account appears in Life in 2030: Exploring a Sustainable Future for Canada (Robinson et al. 1996a). 451