VIDEO: “Thinking Like a Watershed: Eco-Assets Explained” – perspectives by Bob Sandford, Emanuel Machado, Kim Stephens and Michelle Molnar together capture the essence of the Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium

"An ecological approach provides a community with the ability to provide services to people at a reduced cost, with a reduced risk, and with tremendous benefits to the environment," stated Emanuel Machado. "The challenges we have are three-fold: nature itself is under-valued, under-priced and over-used. Our built infrastructure is decaying at a faster pace that we can afford to replace it. And nature itself knows no boundaries, but we have no ability to plan at a watershed scale."

2017 COMOX VALLEY ECO-ASSET SYMPOSIUM: Keynote Address by Bob Sandford on “The Hard Work of Hope: Sustaining Cooperation on Water Security & Climate Stability in a Post-Truth Trumpocene” (public presentation)

“We should also remember that – though it may not seem like it at the moment – great opportunity still very much exists not just to change the world, but to make it a better place," stated Bob Sandford. "If we just stay the course – and by our example help others to do the same – there is no question that – if we want it to be – this could be Canada’s moment; its chance to shine."

2017 COMOX VALLEY ECO-ASSET SYMPOSIUM: Keynote Address by Kim Stephens primed audience for workshop sessions – “What Happens on the Land Does Matter!”

The purpose of the Symposium was to build local knowledge and interest in how to apply eco-asset management principles at the local level. “Too often we talk about water and land as silos,” stated Kim Stephens in his opening remarks. “But what happens on the land does matter! It is how we respect the land that really affects what happens with water. That is a key message. It is why we are moving forward with Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management."

2017 Comox Valley Symposium: Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management” – What would eco-asset management look like in practice, on the ground, through a local government lens?

“The mandate of economics is how to allocate scarce resources to their best and highest use. Economics does not generally include nature or natural services in the discipline. The latest version of the discipline was developed in the 1930s. At that time, ecology was not a very developed discipline," stated Michelle Molnar. “Today we recognize that nature has grown scarce, that natural resources are hitting limits, and the time is right for nature to be incorporated into economics."

Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium: “Restorative development is within your grasp. You know what to do. Go do it,” urged Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security, United Nations University Institute

“I travel widely, but I have never heard a conversation like what I have heard at the Symposium. And while I am often part of very positive conversations, what was unique (about the Symposium) was the atmosphere of possibilities and hope that I have witnessed here," stated Bob Sandford. "Investment must now be shifted towards restoration that uses the forces of nature itself to help build more efficiently integrated infrastructure."

Drainage Planning & Engineering: “We have a standard-of-practice that is generally accepted as not achieving what is best for the environment,” stated Jim Dumont at the 2017 Comox Valley Eco-Asset Symposium

“So what is the nub of the issue? In standard practice, only surface runoff is considered, and this has led to degraded streams. The other pathways by which rainfall reaches streams are ignored,” explained Jim Dumont. “If communities are to truly benefit from use of nature’s assets to provide vital community infrastructure services, then we must change the engineering standard-of practice to one that reflects real-world hydrology.”

Bob Sandford, Chair for Water & Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute, is keynote speaker at Comox Valley Eco-Asset Management Symposium (March 14-15, 2017)

“To make the right choices moving forward, we must understand how and where the rhythms of water are changing. Then we can apply ecosystem-based understanding to adapt our practices to suit a changing climate,” wrote Bob Sandford. “Time is of the essence. Recently identified and potentially dangerous phenomena, such as atmospheric rivers, demand our full attention."

DOWNLOAD: Discovering Nature’s Infrastructure Potential in the Comox Valley – Moment of Truth for a Changing Climate

Local government collaboration through the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative is producing tools and resources that will help communities integrate water balance solutions into land use decisions. “Broadening collaboration to include the stewardship, conservation and industry sectors would build understanding and improve practises in the field,” states David Stapley. “The Symposium is an opportunity for land use professionals, stewards, local governments, First Nations and Industry to come together."

LOOK AT DEVELOPMENT DIFFERENTLY: Comox Valley Eco-Asset Management Symposium – Discovering Nature’s Infrastructure Potential (on March 14-15, 2017)

“In community drinking watersheds, logging is accelerated as harvest rotations shorten. The reduced ability of forests to capture winter rain and slow snowmelt leads to increased spring runoff, resulting in more flooding and source drinking water quality issues,” states Tim Ennis. “If the long-term value of forest ecosystem services was taken into account when community development is planned, more forested areas would be retained to capture rainwater."