Guest speaker: Dr. David Rapport - Beyond the old saw of “economics vs. environment”: ecosystem health approaches to sustainability

7:00PM to 9:00PM October 6, 2015
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LIC 4th Floor
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The School of Environment and Sustainability is hosting Dr. David Rapport as a keynote speaker during the MEM program residency. The program would like to extend the invitation to attend the presentation, Beyond the old saw of  “economics vs. environment”: ecosystem health approaches to sustainability, to all faculty, students and staff on Tuesday, October 6 from 7 - 9 p.m. on the 4th floor of the LIC.

The presentation will focus on the following concepts:

While the world’s nations continue to focus on growing their economies as fast as possible, nagging questions persist of what the global environment can or cannot support. Climate change, the sixth mass extinction of the diversity of life on earth in nature and culture, the persistent threat of pesticides and other toxic substances, the ongoing wholesale declines in genetic diversity of major crops and in global marine and freshwater fisheries, and so on/. Our ecological models tell us in increasingly alarming detail that the planet’s capacity to sustain life is being overwhelmed, and that we can only continue “business as usual” at the gravest peril to humanity and to all of life. Yet, our prevailing economic models tell us to press on—the ultimate goal being unfettered economic growth and job creation. Environmental problems caused by human activities? Not to worry! Either these environmental threats are grossly overstated, or technological innovation will come to the rescue and fix our ills. 

So what to do? We are caught in crossfire, confronted with a seemingly intractable dilemma. How do we overcome this dichotomy and move ahead toward a truly sustainable future, in which economy and ecology are no longer at loggerheads, but rather work together to sustain both livelihoods and the life systems on which livelihoods depend? This talk will explore this critical question and outline some of the steps forward from the point of view of healthy ecosystems as the foundation for healthy societies and healthy economies. 

About Dr. Rapport:

Dr. Rapport received a BBA in engineering and business administration from the University of Michigan (USA) and an MA and PhD in economics, also from the University of Michigan. He held a post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral ecology at the University of Toronto (1968-69). In 1970 and 1972 he was awarded two successive I.W. Killam Senior Research Fellowships from the Canada Council for research at the interface of economics and ecology, which he conducted at Simon Fraser University. 

In 1974, Dr. Rapport was recruited by Statistics Canada, the national statistical agency of Canada, to lead the development of the field of environmental statistics. In 1981, he was appointed senior scientist and science advisor to the agency. He co-developed (with Anthony Friend) Statistics Canada’s “Pressure-State-Response” (PSR) system (also known as DPSIR), a statistical system for evaluating the impact of human activities on the environment, which was shortly thereafter adopted by the OECD and the UN system, and has found wide international application including in the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. He co-directed and co-authored Canada’s first national State of the Environment Report (1986). In 1994, Dr. Rapport was appointed tri-council eco-research chair in Ecosystem Health (co-funded by Canada’s three national research councils) and professor of Ecosystem Health at the University of Guelph (1994-2004). 

From the late 1970s, Dr. Rapport began to develop the concept of ecosystem health, based on fieldwork on the Great Lakes, the Baltic Sea, and the desert grasslands of New Mexico. In 1993, he led a NATO Advanced Research Workshop on the health of large-scale ecosystems. This was followed by a series of international conferences on the topic, beginning with the 1st International Symposium on Ecosystem Health and Medicine (Ottawa, 1994). He co-founded the International Society for Ecosystem Health (ISEH), and served as its Founding President, as well as Editor-in-Chief of its international peer-reviewed journal Ecosystem Health (published quarterly by Blackwell Science, 1995-2001). In the late 1990s, along with colleagues from the University of Western Ontario (now Western University), he co-established a program in ecosystem health in the medical faculty, which is still ongoing. 

Dr. Rapport authored or edited several books on ecosystem health – including Managing for Healthy Ecosystems. His current writings focus on the relationship of healthy ecosystems to the health and wellbeing of human communities, and on policy and management prescriptions for maintaining or restoring the health of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.