The Edmonton Declaration – Renewable

Mayor Don Iveson has a vision of a sustainable future led by cities, with innovative projects like Blatchford paving the way. Find out what that future looks like on this episode of Renewable.


It was somewhere in the vicinity of -30 when we sat down with Mayor Don Iveson. The interview took place in a decommissioned airplane tower in the heart of Blatchford, an in-development community where 30,000 people will enjoy a low carbon lifestyle. The tower was somehow defiantly sweltering in the face of that -30 weather — a result of having had to hunt down an old heater that threatened both the audio quality of the episode and the hydration levels of the entire crew.

But the biggest challenge of the entire shoot wasn’t the weather, the location, the audio quality, or lugging up a couple hundred pounds worth of gear in a pause-inducing elevator. The biggest challenge in putting together this episode of Renewable? Time.

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Not because Mayor Iveson wasn’t generous with his time, which he was, but because when talking to a mayor you truly have a lot of interconnected topics to possibly dive into. The lenses through which mayors view and interact with their cities are multitudinous. Mayors are concerned with people and where they live and how they get around and the work they have access to and how they spend their leisure time. It’s a multidimensional relationship and painting an accurate portrait of it means a long list of questions to get through.

So we tried to focus on one big idea: how do you build an energy sustainable city?

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Well, figuring out what a “sustainable city” looks like is no easy feat. To do so you have to consider what it means for all those aspects — housing, transportation, jobs, leisure — to be sustainable as well. In the last few years, Edmonton has placed a big effort in becoming a more energy sustainable and resilient city. Among other things, the City has allocated resources towards generating and procuring renewable energy, it is developing the carbon neutral Blatchford community powered by renewable energy, it is expanding public and active transportation, and most importantly, it’s working with businesses, industry and residents to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A sustainable city demands a holistic approach in the face of an ever changing climate.

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This brings us to the heart of this episode: The Edmonton Declaration — a bold call-to-action for mayors throughout the world to take leadership and advocate for action on climate change. The Declaration, which is a key outcome of the first ever Cities and Climate Change Science conference of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recognizes the immediate need to limit global warming to 1.5 C to maintain the quality of life of humans on this planet. It urges cities to not only amplify the message that rising greenhouse gas emissions severely impacts them, but that cities are the best positioned to take action now. About 20 cities from Victoria to Quito have signed the Declaration and about 4,500 more have endorsed it through networks like the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and United States Confederation of Mayors.

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The conclusion we reached in sitting down with the Mayor, was that what we thought was a laundry list of questions across different spheres, really just boiled down to one fundamental inquiry: What can we do today to build a city that will still be thriving one hundred years from now? And in the end, the answer to that question had us covering a broad swath of subjects including the Edmonton Declaration, Blatchford and its district energy sharing system, sustainable urban design and the unique role cities can take in combating climate change, all within the confines of a single question.

And for however cold, or hot, or loud, or heavy the experience got, once we started that road — of asking what a sustainable city looks like and what we can be doing right now to get there — the one thing our conversation wasn’t, was rushed.

Renewable is a series about visionaries, creators, community leaders and above all else, Edmontonians, each with a unique vision of a sustainable future in the heart of Canada’s fossil fuel industry.

The Renewable Series Team is composed of the City of Edmonton’s Energy Transition group and the creative minds at Sticks & Stones.

For more information visit edmonton.ca/RenewableSeries

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