Industrial Symbiosis Programs: International Lessons

Posted on:

By Tracy Casavant, Executive Director, Light House Sustainable Building Center and James Woodcock, International Manager, International Synergies Ltd (UK)

Canada is set to become the 21st country to launch a National Industrial Symbiosis Program. In the past ten years since the first NISP was launched in the UK, the NISP model has been evolving, meaning Canada is in a good position to apply the lessons learned from other countries. And so, in no particular order, here is what we have learned.

Lesson 1: It Matters Who’s in Charge

While government support of NISPs is critical, government agencies don’t make the best delivery agents, even if they are agencies that do not have a regulatory role. Delivery agents from the private sector who employ people with experience in industry are better received by businesses.

In Canada, a research report prepared by students at Concordia’s John Molson School for Business determined that a not-for-profit, arms-length organization would be an ideal delivery agent. A not-for-profit structure demonstrates to businesses that the program provider is not seeking to profit from the businesses efforts, but really is there to champion the businesses’ efforts. A not-for-profit structure is also important to access many types of government and private funding in Canada.

Cities (local governments) can be involved as financial and logistical supporters; advisory council participants; and even program participants – a municipal wastewater treatment plant can participate as a ‘business’. And of course, NISPs help cities to achieve many of their policy goals (see our previous blog post); provide important feedback regarding policy issues and economic development opportunities, and can provide data to support sustainability reporting.

Lesson 2: Capitalize on Existing Networks

Industrial associations can be important for recruiting large numbers of members. Working with trade associations, depending on how they are organised, can lead to rapid replication of synergies.

In Canada, this will mean working with organizations such as the Alberta Industrial Heartland Association, local Chambers of Commerce, or ClimateSmart, which has more than 700 business members. And, local economic development officers / agencies associated with Cities will also be important partners helping NISP-Canada to connect with local businesses.

Lesson 3: It Takes Two, Baby…. Or Three or Four

Apart from simple by-products, say wooden pallets, it is rare for materials to go from A to B without some form of transformation (which is often where jobs and new business start- ups are created) and added value. Working with a number of companies in one synergy can make something that individually would not be economical viable. The NISP model helps to identify these opportunities through its special workshop process, and through the use of dedicated regional practitioners who can connect companies working on similar synergies within a region… or even within the international NISP network.

Lesson 4: Pilot Wisely

The scope of a pilot should also be similar to the scope of a full-program, or the benefits may not be substantial enough to generate support for a full program. For example, it can be detrimental to launch a pilot without resources for at least one, dedicated practitioner to start and without at least a one year commitment so that multiple workshops can be delivered, and there is sufficient time for synergies to progress from idea to implementation (and performance measurement).

NISP Canada is seeking enough resources to launch each pilot region with at least 2 practitioners, for 2 years.

Pre-feasibility work around the specific delivery model can also be helpful.

Cities for People specifically supported pre-feasibility work for NISP-Canada that supported the development of the business plan for the pilot.

Pilot activities can raise awareness and enthusiasm but it is important that there is not too much time passing between pilot and realisation of practical delivery to not dampen expectations and enthusiasm.

The NISP model allows for frequent performance measurement. As the NISP-Canada pilot proceeds, these interim results will be used to seek support for a permanent program so that a permanent program can begin right after the pilot.

Lesson 5: Be Practical

It is important to balance academic research in potential synergies with practical delivery. Don't get lost in researching the potential of a synergy to the detriment of progressing the synergy through to practical completion. This is one of the most counter-intuitive lessons of NISPs – we do not need to conduct exhaustive material and energy flow analyses to identify synergies. Life is too short for full life-cycle analysis every time!

The NISP model relies carefully structured and facilitated workshops and specially, consistently trained practitioners to ensure a practical focus. NISP-Canada will of course adhere to that model.

Lesson 6: Research Does Have a Role

It is important to connect with research institutes, incubator companies, and venture capital to realise demand-pull on innovation from identified innovation synergies.

NISP-Canada will work with organizations such as universities or angel investor networks in each region, for example inviting representatives to observe at workshops to identify synergies from which they might benefit in supporting e.g., as an investor or to develop new technology that will remove a technical barrier.

Lesson 7: All Aboard – Engage Key Stakeholders Early

Building a broad understanding of the NISP model, such as including key stakeholders in some of the initial training, yields big benefits later in programme life.

The NISP-Canada Pilot will include key stakeholders, such as representatives from industry associations, in some of the early practitioner training. This will also help to create regional program ambassadors who can support practitioners in engaging as many businesses as possible as quickly as possible. (See also Lesson 2)

Lesson 8: Data Can Be A Common Language

The use of a common database system (SynergIE™) allows for regional programs to be linked, ensuring cross-regional activity can occur (even occasionally across different countries). The use of the SynergIE™ platform also facilitates the sharing of synergy opportunities and lessons learned across the network of countries with NISPs.

NISP-Canada, including the pilot phase, will also use the SynergIE™ platform. i.e., expertise and implementation tricks from one region will be available to all in the network.

Lesson 9: NISPs Can Be Many Things to Many People

NISPs can be driven from many directions – social, economic, and environmental. This is a strength of the model. Initially, the UK programme was based on landfill diversion because a landfill tax was due to be implemented. The tax was delayed and the drivers of the programme needed to be changed. . Although initial engagement by some companies may have been because of the landfill tax, they soon began to recognise NISP as a business opportunity programme. From institutions and governments, NISP has been recognised as a tool for climate change mitigation, eco-innovation, regional economic development and material security.

As discussed in the last blog post (URL), NISPs help cities to achieve goals as diverse as boosting businesses’ competitiveness to diverting waste from landfill. NISP-Canada is reaching out to a diverse group of partners, recognizing this strength.

Lesson 10: Return on Investment Can Be Fast!

Return on investment can be quick and often doesn’t require new regulations or complicated agreements. The experience of NISPs has shown that there are quick wins that can appear within 3-6 months. Although some synergies involving innovation/new technologies do take some time, there are many synergies that can be implemented quickly and have a culture change effect on the companies involved to want to do more. As the programme incorporates measurements, these quick wins can be quickly turned in to case studies/examples to encourage others.

Industrial Symbiosis: Helping Cities Strengthen the Circular Economy

Posted on:

By Tracy Casavant, Executive Director, Light House Sustainable Building Center

Cities for People is proud to be supporting the National industrial Symbiosis Program in Canada or “NISP-Canada” (see ).

Refresher – What is Industrial Symbiosis?

Industrial Symbiosis (IS) establishes relationships between organizations to improve their bottom line through more efficient and effective resource management.

IS accelerates the shift towards a circular economy by identifying waste-to-input linkages and promoting collaboration around energy, water, materials, technical expertise, and transportation.

NISP-Canada Pilot

The NISP-Canada Pilot will adapt the UK’s (and now EU’s) highly successful NISP model in several regions across Canada. The Pilot will run for two years in three to five regions and set the stage for a permanent, broader program.

The UK / EU model is the most successful in the world, having been adopted by over 20 other countries. The UK government saw an astonishing benefit cost ratio (BCR) of ~40:1 on its investment in NISP. Through independent verification and studies NISP has been found to be the most cost effective, efficient program for delivering economic, social and environmental benefits.

The NISP Canada Pilot will demonstrate that comparable benefits can be achieved in Canada and will inform the model for a long-term and fully national NISP-Canada.

NISP-Canada Will Benefit Cities

NISP Canada brings numerous benefits to local governments, and directly supports a local government goals. NISP Canada can:

Strengthen businesses’ competitiveness: IS reduces business costs, diversifies revenue streams, and fosters innovation. After 8 years, NISP-UK cut participant operating costs by $2.07 billion and increased participant sales by $1.88 billion. In the UK, 20% of all implemented opportunities involved innovation, e.g., development / demonstration / commercialization.

Attract new business: The program’s software platform creates a database of untapped resources to help local governments attract investment. In one UK region, feedstock for a paper manufacturer were identified together with markets for its by-products; the local economic development agency was able to use this information to help attract a new paper manufacturer.

Create jobs: By strengthening businesses’ competitiveness and financial positions, and by generating new business opportunities e.g., for a new business to form around transforming a by-product, NISPs help to create, and safeguard jobs. After 8 years, the UK program created and safeguarded more than 10,000 jobs, with 8,600 of those occurring in the 2005-2010 period which included the global economic downturn.

Support local waste reduction and diversion goals: NISPs divert waste materials from landfill by establishing IS relationships that result in virgin materials being substituted by ‘wastes’, or in the creation of new production lines (or entire new businesses) designed to transform waste into valuable products. In 8 years, businesses participating in NISP-UK saw more than 47 million tonnes of materials diverted from landfill.

Reduce GHGs: NISPs reduce GHG emissions by lowering embodied energy in materials through the substitution of recycled constituents; reducing energy consumption; creating fuel substitution opportunities; reducing transportation energy by driving regional supply chain opportunities with lower transaction costs; reducing biodegradable materials sent to landfill; and creating lower carbon energy generation opportunities e.g., anaerobic digestion with feedstock from multiple regional businesses. In 8 years, NISP-UK reduced GHG emissions by 42 million tonnes. In the UK, the cost per tonne of GHGs reduced or avoided was a mere $0.61 CAD per tonne!

Build skills and capacity: Other NISPs have shown that the majority of participants are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In addition to helping SMEs establish IS relationships, the NISP workshops, also promotes knowledge exchange and business-to-business mentoring. NISPs build SME capacity in waste and energy management; business case development and development and commercialization of new technologies and products.

Support a circular, green economy: NISP is recognized internationally by organizations such as the EU, Global Green Growth Forum, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a key platform for advancing a circular, green economy.

 Delivering NISP-Canada to Canadian Cities

NISPs are delivered regionally. For the pilot phase, a ‘region’ refers to a metropolitan area – we are exploring the following large cities, Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton / Sarnia, Montreal, and Halifax. The pilot will help to identify how small or large NISP-Canada regions ultimately should be.

Cities within each region will have access to 2 dedicated IS Practitioners: A key factor of success for the NISP model is its use of specially trained, staff (‘practitioners’) located within each region. Practitioners facilitate workshops and are dedicated to working with businesses to follow-up on opportunities generated at the workshops; identify other IS opportunities; and shepherd IS opportunities to implementation.

Within each region, the NISP-Canada Pilot will deliver at least 4 Industrial Symbiosis Workshops with full practitioner follow-up; a Bi-Annual Performance Report, summarizing participation and key indicators such as number of synergies, projected GHG savings; and a Final Performance Report, documenting lessons learned across regions and providing recommendations, including policy, to support a full NISP-Canada program.

To learn more or provide your support, please contact Tracy Casavant at Light House Sustainable Building Centre

Additional Resources:

*Resource links and descriptions courtesy International Synergies Ltd. (UK)

NISP - The Pathway to a Low Carbon Sustainable Economy

Provides an insight into how some of the issues linked to climate change can be tackled using the industrial symbiosis approach and NISP model. The report charts the program's progress since becoming the world's first national industrial symbiosis initiative and showcases just a number of the thousands of synergies identified by the program and implemented by its members.

The NISP model has also been analysed and evaluated by numerous international bodies, and has won several international awards.

Globe Scan Circular Economy Best Practice Feb 2015

Two NISP programs (UK and South Africa) are cited in the top 30 recommendations for governments world-wide in this multi global consultancy report.

Industrial Symbiosis 3GF 2014: Positive Action for Green Growth

This newsletter was published for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2014 and provides an update on the progress of the Industrial Symbiosis PPP which aims to take urgent action to advance industrial symbiosis at scale globally.

Industrial Symbiosis at 3GF: Positive Action for Green Growth

This newsletter was published for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2013 which included a dedicated session on Industrial Symbiosis, led by International Synergies. The newsletter provides an introduction to Industrial Symbiosis as well as an overview of current global applications at local, regional and national level.

Outcomes of IWCAIS: Positive Action for Green Growth

This report sets out the findings of the first International Working Conference on Applied Industrial Symbiosis (IWCAIS), held in Birmingham, UK on 12th – 14th June, 2012. The conference was convened by International Synergies Limited, and co-hosted by Birmingham City Council, to highlight the ability of industrial symbiosis to address current sustainability challenges - economic, environmental and social.

NISP - A Policy Case Study

The study provides a detailed perspective of the progression of the program and considers factors, both positive and negative, that have had an effect on the program. The conclusion of the case study looks at the lessons learned for Horizon 2020 and states, "Essential insights for the planning, design implementation and monitoring of Horizon 2020 activities can be deduced from the key performance factors of NISP.”

Industrial Symbiosis in Action

Yale University produced a report on the highly successful International Industrial Symbiosis Research Symposium hosted by International Synergies in 2006. Leading experts in industrial ecology from across the world gathered in Birmingham in August 2006, marking only the third event of its kind, and the first to be held outside the academic community.

WWF Green Game Changing Report (2010)

International Synergies' applied industrial symbiosis approach as illustrated through NISP is acknowledged as one of the world's top 20 Green Game Changing Business Innovations in a report commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, 2010

European Union Waste Framework Directive (2009)

International Synergies' NISP is cited as an example of best practice in the European Union Waste Framework Directive published in 2009.

Vancouver Climate Risk Forum – Dec 5

Posted on:

On December 5th, the Vancouver Climate Risk Forum will build on similar events hosted in Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco, and bring together local leaders and investment professionals to talk about the impact of climate risk on our pensions, cities, foundations, churches, and other public institutions.

Scientists and organizations like the International Energy Agency are warning investors that most fossil fuel reserves need to stay buried if we hope to avoid the worst effects of global warming. At the same time, more than a trillion dollars a year over the next 36 years must be invested in clean energy if we hope to limit warming to two degrees Celsius.

The Vancouver Climate Risk Forum looks to accelerate this transition to a safer, cleaner economy by supporting local institutional investors looking to manage climate risk and engage with companies to improve their practices on clean energy and carbon.

The forum consists of a daytime program tailored to investment professionals and decision makers, as well as a free public panel in the evening, with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn as the keynote speaker.

Register to attend the Vancouver Climate Risk Forum
RSVP for the evening
public leadership keynote

To learn more, visit:

Voices of New Economies: Lucy Gao

Posted on:

This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks. This Voices series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network. We are launching Voices of New Economies as part of New Economy Week 2014, hosted by the New Economy Coalition. Throughout this week, a series of 5 questions guide our exploration of what it would take to build the economy we need - one that works for people, place, and planet.

Today’s Voices story responds to the third question in the New Economy Week series: How can we connect and learn from successful experiments, pilot projects, and campaigns to build broad-based power and effect deep transformation at scale?

Voices of New Economies – An interview with Lucy Gao

By Craig Massey

To sharing economy innovator and curator Lucy Gao, real Lucy Gao_Picwealth is immediately definable but altogether intangible. It means having enough money to sustain oneself, but more importantly to sustain relationships with friends and family. It means having the opportunity to do things that challenge you, and pursue goals and mastery. It means being able to embrace life experiences, like going to a park and enjoying the city.

Lucy's fascination with (and admirable dedication to) the sharing economy in Toronto emerged from watching a TED talk by Rachel Botsman that made the case for collaborative consumption. It just made sense. As she researched these new business models, she realized they addressed many of the discrepancies she had witnessed between her studies in political science and business. They were solving real problems.

Inspired, Lucy took the four months she had free after university to join the small team preparing to launch Unstash, a peer-to-peer lending platform. This was an education in marketing and using social media to promote the platform, while making sure the supply (of shareables) existed before the demand. Through this project she networked with players in the new economies locally in Toronto as well as globally. This led to attending OuiShare Fest in France and an invitation to be a curator for From this position, Lucy broadened the reach/strength of the local Toronto sharing economy including through Meetups and events.

What do you see as the key elements of "new economies"?

  • Systems that promote peer-to-peer (p2p) interactions.
  • Creating small neighbourhood-level connections rather than centralized and corporate systems.
  • Access rather than ownership.
  • Enhancing the reality of people's lives, while making services available to community members with low incomes.
  • Empower people to “be their own business.”
  • Enabled by technology, enterprising individuals can reach others interested in what they already have.

How do you think we can connect and learn from successful experiments, pilot projects, and campaigns to build broad-based power and effect deep transformation at scale?

This will be achieved by adding structure to our current networks and enabling current players to reach out to other groups more easily. This will allow easier replication while we share what we have learned. It will also be important to take a more proactive approach with government regulation and building their buy-in. Once we have defined who the new companies are, we can work to help create a new set of regulations. Government involvement can increase the impact of companies that already exist.

Related links:

Rachel Botsman on TED: The Case for Collaborative Consumption

Shareable – Sharing Cities Network – Toronto

Collaborative Living blog

See also previous Cities for People events and blogs on the Sharing Economy including:

Global Mapjam - October 13th - Put the New Economy on the Map

April Rinne - Collaborative Economy - Cross-Canada Tour

What Bike Sharing Says about Our Cities and our Values

When fruit and sharing come together everyone wins

The City that Shares: Vancouver & The Sharing Project

The Sharing Economy: It's more than we think

Gifting Circles and the Gift Economy

New Economy Week 2014

Posted on:

What would it take to build the economy we need, one that works for people, place, and planet?

New Economy Week is a public exploration of creative resistance – an opportunity to shine a light on the thousands upon thousands of efforts that everyday people are making right now to build a new kind of economy. 

From October 13-19, the New Economy Coalition (NEC) will be hosting live keynote panels, publishing powerful essays, and spotlighting member events (open-houses, info-sessions, film screenings, panel discussions, pot-lucks, etc.) from across the US and Canada — with the goal of raising the profile of those doing this work and diving into some of the questions that stand between us and a New Economy.

NEC has partnered with YES! Magazine online to share some of the best responses to their 'questions of the day':

1. How can we honor and learn from the rich histories of communities building New Economy institutions on the frontlines of fights for racial, economic, and environmental justice?

2. How can we catalyze public conversation about the need for systemic change and the viability of economic alternatives that put people and the planet first?

3. How can we connect and learn from successful experiments, pilot projects, and campaigns to build broad-based power and effect deep transformation at scale?

4. How do we transition to a renewable economy without leaving the workers, young people, and communities most impacted by extractive industries behind?

5. How can we support neighborhoods, cities, towns, and regions as the fertile ground for the kind of economy we need?

Get Involved!

We invite you to join these conversations online and to host some conversations of your own in your community.

Two Months, Twenty Cities, One Movement – The Blue Dot Tour

Posted on:

The David Suzuki Foundation has announced the Blue Dot Tour - a cross-country celebration featuring David Suzuki and a star-studded line up of Canadian performers, artists and leaders.

They are doing this to  promote a simple idea: That all Canadians should have the legally recognized right to drink clean water, breathe fresh air and eat healthy food.

From September 24 to November 9, 2014, David Suzuki and the Blue Dot Tour will take this message on the road. With stops in 20 communities from St. Johns, Newfoundland to Vancouver, B.C., this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed.

As David makes his way across the country, he'll be joined by other Canadian icons who believe that by coming together to take action locally, we can guarantee all Canadians the right to a healthy environment no matter who they are, or where they live.

David says this is the most important thing he’s ever done.  Around the world, more than 110 nations already recognize their citizen's right to live in a healthy environment. Canada is not one of them. But by standing together, The David Suzuki Foundation believes we change that.

Visit for dates, line-ups, and tickets.

For more information, contact the David Suzuki Foundation at 1-800-453-1533


Photo credit:

2014 Social Finance Forum: Building markets that matter

Posted on:

The leading conference on social finance and impact investing in Canada is coming back this November.

Hosted by the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, the 2014 Social Finance Forum: Building markets that matter will welcome over 300 attendees and 65 speakers from across Canada and the world to Toronto for workshops, pitch fairs, the Social Finance Awards, and more.

What: 2014 Social Finance Forum: Building markets that matter
Where: MaRS Discovery District, 101 College Street, Toronto, ON
When: November 6, and 7, 2014

See the invitation at or head over to the Social Finance Forum website for all the details. A limited number of early-bird tickets are available right now.

Photo credit: MaRS Discovery District

‘At the Centre of Our Moment in History’ – Highlights from the CommonBound Conference

Posted on:

By: Michael Toye, Executive Director, CCDNET
Cross-Posted from the Canadian Community Economic Development Network blog

You may have seen from some of our 15th anniversary blog posts that the concept and practice of community economic development originated in the United States. 

Although the tools and strategies for creating inclusive and sustainable communities are constantly evolving differently in different places, the values and principles guiding those efforts remain remarkably perennial. 

Those tools and strategies are constantly evolving because CCEDNet members, being a pragmatic bunch, tend to be continually learning, innovating and building on what works to enhance their impact and improve community well being. 

But in recent years, we have increasingly realized that CED alone is not enough to create the inclusive and sustainable communities our members' seek.  We need to be part of a bigger framework for systems change, and a broader coalition to make that happen. 

So it perhaps shouldn't be surprising that when the mainly-US New Economy Coalition (NEC) formed last year, we immediately saw many similarities in vision and a parallel evolution of thinking.  We were pleased when they agreed to accept a Canadian member, and when their President, Bob Massie, came and gave a rousing talk at a reception for CCEDNet members during the Social Enterprise World Forum last fall.  The significance of this connection is reflected in our 2013 Annual Report.

With that background, hopes were high for NEC's first conference and Annual General Meeting that took place over the past weekend in Boston.  The ambitious program included two sessions we had proposed, one by Mike Lewis from the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal on scaling up community economic development to co-operative economic democracy and one by Béatrice Alain from the Chantier de l'économie sociale on the history and success of Québec's social economy.  But those were just 2 of 46 (!) remarkable workshops with something for just about everyone. 

The diversity of perspectives and insights in the plenary panels and workshops was outstanding.  To give just one example, in the opening plenary, Ed Whitfield of the Fund for Democratic Communities went beyond his powerful critique of the 'Teach a Man to Fish' parable to the illustrative 'Teach a Man to Ham Sandwich', drawing on the philosophy and social analysis of James Brown. I encourage you to skim through the program to see the titles of the other plenary sessions and workshops. 

Among the 650 participants, there were a good number of Canadians present, many of whom gathered on the grass outside the main plenary hall for our regional caucus on Saturday afternoon to share resources and ideas.

The opportunity to meet in person so many people I know only by name (and so many others I should) is one of the best parts of these events like this.  I was amazed when on the first day, Clare Goff of New Start Magazine in the UK happened to sit down at my table – after we had first met by phone just a month earlier for an interview

The New Economy Coalition is still in its early stages.  But if the people at this conference are any indication, Bob was exactly right when he described the NEC as a "vast and diverse force for transformation operating at the centre of our moment in history."  We are #CommonBound for a very promising future.

Congratulations especially to the extraordinary NEC staff team who pulled an amazing conference together, and the many others who helped make it happen. 

Our friends at The Extraenvironmentalist were livestreaming the conference, so at some point there should be more video available, but in the meantime check out some tweets for a sense of what happened.

(@NewEconomics, #CommonBound, @CCEDNet_RCDEC)

Sparks of the New Economy at 100-in-1 Day

Posted on:

On Saturday June 7th, citizens in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal created acts of urban change as part of 100-in-1 Day, a movement uniting people across the nation to make cities better. Each Canadian city hosting the event was fortunate to witness an outpouring of engagement. Two numbers tell the story: A total of 460 interventions took place across Canada - many more than the stated target of 100. Halifax had five times as many actions (on a per capita basis) as any of the other cities. Go Halifax!

We’ve taken a closer look at some of the interventions that have new economies at their heart. New economies are about taking a holistic perspective on the nature and origins of wealth, and evaluating the ways in which economies can work for people and the planet through shared, just, and lasting prosperity. This includes fair trade, the sharing economy, collaborative consumption, alternative measures of progress and wellbeing, social enterprise, and social finance.


Toronto featured 174 interventions, including one on the reclamation of public space. In the People's Queen Street, people occupied parking spaces on a major street, and filled the spaces with grass, hammocks, back yard patio furniture and games. Similarly, public spaces came alive with people participating in public poetry (Halifax), hosting a piano picnic (Vancouver) and hosting a potluck in a park

In Halifax, 52 interventions took place. In one, people shared ideas for a new tool library...

“Setting up on the street and selling hot dogs was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the Tool Library in the community where it will be located. We received useful input on our lending policies and some neighbours took the opportunity to donate tools. Like many of our engagements, the most fulfilling aspect was watching people come to grips with the concept of a Tool Library for the first time. We hope it will spark other ideas for the resources we can share.” Halifax Tool Library

Montreal was also buzzing with energy as over 87 interventions took place in the urban fabric - even families got into the action, planting a garden that would encourage eating their leafy greens...and plenty of muddy playtime. One of the 83 interventions in Vancouver was the Match Maker booth hosted by Kits Space Projects at Vancouver's Maker Faire. It provided an opportunity for makers to connect with the Strathcona Resource Exchange where business waste is repurposed for creative projects and new economies...and people see what’s possible when waste is recognized as a resource.

Citizen actions explored the links between the economy and ecology in Toronto: people came together to discuss what engineering means to them; they walked through a ravine while pondering the effective integration of nature and people.

Interventions encouraged local and indigenous food consumption, including by designing a First Nations Indigenous Garden, by holding a permaculture blitz, growing an organic food forest (Vancouver), by distributing seed bombs, and by learning about urban beekeeping (Halifax).

And across the border in Boston, Canadian Justin Ritchie (nonprofit The Extraenvironmentalist) recorded a livestream of the New Economy Coalition conference, CommonBound. He interviewed Mike Lewis of the Canadian Centre for Community Renewal. Other speakers from Canada include Béatrice Alice of Chantier de l’économie sociale and Mike Toye of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDnet). Web:


The One Earth team took to the streets of Vancouver to discuss new economies, talking with people to figure out what “real wealth” means to citizens. Our question, “What does real wealth mean to you?” generated interesting responses like, “people reclaiming their power”, “access to sports”, “being in love”, “accomplishing your goals”, and “kindness”. An 88 year old pensioner we spoke with said that real wealth “is loving what you do”, while a 5 year old girl confidently stated with that “snails” make her feel wealthy.

These genuine responses to understanding wealth brought to light an important aspect to consider while re-evaluating our current economic system. They reveal that wealth is a state of being, and not necessarily a state of ownership. This is what the new economy is striving to highlight through these generative discussions on the roots of value, money, and exchange.

Economics has traditionally been about understanding the allocation of scarce resources - but what we saw on June 7th was an abundance of happiness, enthusiasm and connection, not scarcity. The intangible qualities of what real wealth can mean - creativity, innovation, equality, participation, capacity, and ability - all expand the more they are used. These are important to keep in mind when thinking about what we want our present and future to look like, and how economies should be understood and measured.

Our commons don’t need to become a tragedy - they can, instead, be bountiful and rewarding shared assets. 100 in 1 Day showed that through people coming together to act, express, engage, connect and design what they want to see in the world, we join together on the path to manifesting that reality.


Cities for People will continue to explore the different ways in which we all engage with new economies. Sign up on our mailing list to receive updates and invitations to future events, access to insightful discussions, and prizes.

Click the following links to get involved in the upcoming events:

- Sharefest TO, July 16, Toronto

- New Economy Week, 12-18 October

- Cities for People Toronto Leadership Summit, 12 November, Toronto

You can also sign up to watch the recorded livestream from the new economy conference by CommonBound June 4-6th, Boston.

Photo credit: Lucy Gao

100 Ways to Make Ideas Seem Possible

Posted on: