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Turning Ideas Into Action

Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan


In his 1969 book, Design With Nature, Ian McHarg pioneered the concept of environmental planning. “So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!,” wrote Ian McHarg.

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BC Hydro’s Conservation Community of Practice demonstrates a “top-down & bottom-up” approach to leading change


“We define conservation quite broadly, to include more than just conserving energy or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our long-term goal is build connections between and within communities that result in advancing existing and creating new community-based commitments to actions that support the creation of a conservation culture,” stated Pia Nagpal.

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“Design with Nature” philosophy guides Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia


To understand where we are heading, we need to understand where we have come from. Historical context is important. The ‘design with nature’ paradigm is borrowed from the seminal book by Ian McHarg because it captures the essence of climate change adaptation. Adaptation is about responding to the changes that will inevitably occur. Adaptation is at the community level and is therefore about collaboration.

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Designing with Nature in British Columbia


“While we are very good at measuring settlement, mainly in financial terms, we have not been that effective in quantifying the ecological impacts. This disconnect in measuring what matters has historically resulted in an unbalanced approach when making development and infrastructure decisions,” stated Tim Pringle.

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