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Nordic scholars visit UBC to share urban sustainability ideas

February 07, 2014 - 1:38 PM


Google the world’s 10 most livable countries and most often four Northern European places appear in the top 10: Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Iceland.

While Canada is in good company, generally placing in the top 10, Northern European countries almost always earn top spot. Why? What do they do so differently than others in the top 10 such as New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and the U.S.? That’s something Lawrence Berg, a professor with the Community, Culture, and Global Studies unit in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC wants to share with Okanagan residents.

Berg is organizing Alternative Urban Futures: a Forum on Urban Sustainability, which features four keynote speakers from Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, and members from the Okanagan Nation Alliance. The free event takes place Thursday, February 13, 7 p.m. at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, 421 Cawston Ave., Kelowna.

“This is an opportunity to discuss in a public forum some alternative visions for cultural, economic, environmental, and social sustainability in the urban context of the Okanagan Valley,” says Berg.

Nordic countries are widely recognized as world leaders in sustainable urban practices, and Berg wants the guest scholars to share their expertise with Okanagan residents.

“Our hope is to broaden the discussion—beyond what are often understood to be simply technical environmental issues—to refocus on issues such as the negative impacts of ‘development-as-usual’ and its relationship to wider cultural, economic, environmental, and social issues. Especially, that focus is on such things as the exclusionary impacts of ongoing colonialism, racism, white supremacy, food insecurity, and poverty.”

At the Alternative Urban Futures forum, the Okanagan Nation Alliance and four Nordic guest scholars will make presentations, followed by responses by representatives from local organizations: the City of Kelowna, Food Not Bombs, Kelowna Cycling Coalition, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre, RAMA (Migrant Workers Justice Network), and UBC scholars from the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

The Nordic guests and their topics of interest are:
-  Anders Lund Hansen, Lund University, Sweden — Alternative Urbanisms
-  Edward Huijbens, Icelandic Tourism Research Centre, Iceland — Tourism and Climate Change
-  Henrik Gutzon Larsen, Lund University, Sweden — Gentrification and Housing
-  Malene Freudendal-Pedersen, Roskilde University, Denmark — Bicycle Transportation

The public is encouraged to participate as an audience Q&A follows the formal presentations. This event is free to attend, but registration is required at

The Urban Sustainability Forum is co-sponsored by UBC Invited International Distinguished Visitor’s Fund; Okanagan Sustainability Institute, UBC; Community, Culture and Global Studies, UBC; Urban Studies Program, UBC; and the City of Kelowna.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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