Articles tagged with: Sustainability

  • Brock expert says decisive action required to make post-COVID-19 tourism sustainable

    What will post-pandemic tourism look like?

    A Brock University tourism expert believes COVID-19 is an opportunity to “reset tourism along the lines of sustainability, if our country, and the world, make massive changes in order to be more integrative and resilient.”

    The federal government designated $4.5 million from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund for Niagara Falls Tourism over the weekend, with an eye on marketing to domestic travellers as a response to a drop in international visitors.

    “With the potential to lose 50 per cent or more of tourism revenue this year because of COVID-19, marketing and promotion has to be one of the solutions to the problem, so it’s great to see Niagara Falls receive $4.5 million to get the ball rolling,” says David Fennell, a Professor in Brock’s Department of Geography and Tourism Studies. “We see how important Niagara Falls is as a major gateway community in Ontario and Canada, relative to other large urban centres such as Toronto, which received $7.9 million.”

    However, Fennell, who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Ecotourism, sees much bigger opportunities to strengthen tourism by improving the environmental sustainability around the industry, provided there is strong leadership and ample education.

    “For many, sustainability is just a term that gets in the way of economic benefit,” Fennell says. “However, increasingly — especially if we look at the actions of other countries — future success in tourism is being embedded in a sustainability agenda.”

    This is due in part to consumer demand, with travellers “now more than ever, demanding low-carbon options in accommodation and transportation, greener technologies, and other sustainability dimensions,” he says.

    Fennel suspects that even when international travel resumes on a larger scale, tourists may avoid popular destinations, partially because of the risks now associated with crowds, and partially because of what he anticipates will be a higher “social cost” associated with tourism.

    He notes that in Niagara, the mass tourism of Niagara Falls itself is contrasted by many other specialized attractions, such as wineries to art venues, which don’t always see the constant traffic of casinos and hotels and find it more difficult to rebound after a disaster. He suggests that with greater co-operation across the region, this might improve.

    “Getting sustainability right in our geopark is of considerable importance, because we feel it can be an excellent model for Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world,” Fennell says.

    He sees two possible scenarios that could result from efforts to build sustainability in tourism.

    One involves new technologies, policies, practices and knowledge around how people and organizations navigate the new realities. The second is business-as-usual, where “others are left holding the bag with all the negative socio-cultural, economic and environmental problems that go along with tourism.”

    “We often succumb to akrasia, or weakness of will, as tourists,” Fennell says. “Even though we know that Option A is the right or good course of action, we often choose Option B because it enhances our experience, even at the cost to something or someone else — like a ride on a donkey or elephant that has been severely abused.”

    For this reason, Fennell says, “educating tourists and the tourism industry on the impacts that we create from our travel is absolutely critical if we are to make the right changes.”

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

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  • Studying sustainable transportation in Sweden

    Bus in bus terminal in Gothenburg, Sweden

    Dr. Christopher Fullerton spent part of March in Sweden exploring experiences with electric public transit buses. Here are a few photos from his trip and a reflection from Dr. Fullerton’s second day in Gothenburg:

    “I spent the afternoon at the Lindholmen Science Park learning about Gothenburg’s ElectriCity project, where they are piloting the use of electric buses on two routes and conducting research about all aspects of electric buses. These pictures show their innovative indoor bus stop. It’s a climate controlled building where the bus pulls in at the end of the route, the doors close, the bus’ battery charges in nine minutes, and then the doors open for the bus to leave on its next run. In the meantime, you can wait for the bus in a heated or air conditioned setting, read a book at their mini library or sit in some cool hanging chairs, all the while listening to a recording of birds chirping! When one bus leaves, the next one to arrive pulls in and does the same! Great idea for cities with cold or hot climates, and something that’s much easier to do with quiet and emission-free electric buses.”

    Bridge over river in Gothenburg, Sweden

    Bus terminal waiting room with bookshelves and seating in Gothenburg, Sweden

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  • What is the future for electric buses in Canada?

    In this video, Dr. Christopher Fullerton discusses the future of electric buses in Canada.

     

     

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  • Marilyne Jollineau and Julia Baird participate in International Women’s Day panel discussion

    On March 8, 2019, GeoTour Faculty members, Drs. Marilyne Jollineau and Julia Baird, participated in the “Women in Sustainability: A Panel Discussion in Celebration of International Women’s Day” event on campus.

    The discussion was moderated by Marilyne Jollineau. Discussions were framed around a number of questions focused on women in the field of sustainability.

    Panelists included:

    • Julia Baird, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair
    • Carrie Beatty, Chief Strategic Communications & Public Affairs Officer for the Town of Lincoln
    • Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor
    • Ellen Savoia, Senior Manager, Environmental Planning, Niagara Parks
    • Natalie Green, Project Manager, Niagara River Remedial Action Plan
    • Mary Quintana, Director, Asset Management & Utilities, Brock University

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  • The meaning of environmental words matters in the age of ‘fake news’

    Reposted from The Conversation | January 10, 2019 5.34pm EST
    Authors: Jessica Blythe, Christine Diagle, and Julia Baird (GEOTOUR, ESRC)

    This week, U.S. President Donald Trump gave a live address on prime-time television where he repeatedly used the words “violent,” “illegal aliens” and “crisis” to arouse public fear. While Trump’s speech was based largely on fallacies, his fear-mongering shapes the national tone and can generate real-world impacts.

    Words matter because they wield power. Words shape our thinking about the world and, in turn, the actions we take. The meaning of words has never been more relevant than now — in the era of “fake news” — when so-called alternative facts abound.

    Environmental words can also be misinterpreted or misused. In the most sinister cases, language can be put to work to promote particular agendas and silence others.

    Remember “beautiful clean coal?” The Trump administration used the term as the backbone for the continued development of the fossil fuel industry. At the same time, it systematically removed the words “climate change” from federal websites, a measure aimed at undermining climate action.

    Power can be expressed through environmental buzzwords. They are used to influence policy direction, funding and produce norms that become entrenched in their meaning around the world. Motivated by this idea, our recent research explores the meaning of three environmental buzzwords — resilience, sustainability and transformation. Meaning influences the way we understand environmental problems and shapes the solutions we prioritize — or don’t.

    The rise of resilience

    Let’s begin with “resilience.” Over the past decade, resilience has increasingly become a rallying cry in the face of climatic change. Resilience has many meanings, from the time it takes to bounce back from a disturbance to more complex interpretations that consider the capacity to persist, adapt or transform in the face of change.

    Evidence shows that individuals, even those who share demographic characteristics or professions, interpret resilience in very different ways. These differences matter and can have implications on real-world actions.

    Flooding of Lake Champlain (seen here) and the Richelieu River in 1991 caused tens of millions of dollars in damage in Vermont, New York and Québec.(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

    When considering policy and planning related to flooding, for example, understanding resilience as bouncing back can lead to decisions to focus solely on infrastructure investments, while a more complex interpretation may lead to a decision to relocate a vulnerable subdivision away from a floodplain.

    The rise of resilience as a buzzword has also led to its prominence in agendas put forward by organizations looking for funding often without a clear intention or accountability.

    Sustainability for whom?

    The concept of “sustainability” has dominated environmental thinking since the publication of the influential essay “A Blueprint for Survival” in 1972. The notion of sustainability rests upon the idea that we are obligated to future generations and ought to live in a way that preserves natural resources and environments so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy them.

    The underlying idea is that we have the technological and scientific know-how and power to achieve this goal. And this definition of sustainability centres on humans. Asking “what is sustainability and who is it for?” may lead to a surprising shift in this thinking.

    An alternative perspective on sustainability raises new questions: Must we work toward preserving natural environments for ourselves? Is it justified to work toward preserving a species that is harmful to itself and others — like we have been?

    Is this wind turbine sustainable? Different perspectives may produce different answers. SCA/flickrCC BY

    Privileging the well-being of other species over our own — by significantly reducing our use of highly polluting natural resources — may help to slow climate change, for example. This requires, however, a radical shift in our thinking, displacing the human from the centre of our preoccupations.

    Clearly our know-how has not prevented the acceleration of the environmental crisis. Rethinking ourselves as beings that are deeply interconnected with our habitats and those we share it with, as post-humanist thinkers do, could lead to redefining the notion of sustainability and what constitutes an appropriate course of action. Significantly, this new vision of sustainability may not always favour the human…

    …Continue Reading on The Conversation

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