For a man who envisions new ways of addressing sustainability, being honoured as Environmental Scientist of the Year is recognition of years of hard work and quiet dedication. John Robinson, executive director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative and professor in the Department of Geography and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, has been chosen the 2012 Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic.
Although this recognition focuses on Robinson, the honour equally recognizes the pioneering work being done at UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS). CIRS is designed to be a net positive and regenerative building, one that betters the environment in which we live.
In recognizing Robinson’s achievement, including his leadership in establishing CIRS, the professor’s goal is not to focus on the old ways of doing sustainability—of doing less harm by sacrificing how we live—but rather to build buildings, neighbourhoods and approaches to living that actually contribute to the wellbeing of the planet and those who live in it. As noted in Canadian Geographic:
“Sustainability,” says Robinson, “is the emergent property of a conversation about the kind of world we want to live in that’s informed by some understanding of the ecological, social and economic consequences of different choices. It’s not a scientific concept we can just give people. It’s a normative, ethical judgment that people need to make.”
This is the seventh year Canadian Geographic, owned by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, has presented the award. Previous recipients include: Monique Dubé (2011), “citizen scientists” (2010), Ron O’Dor (2009), John Smol and Jules Blais (2008), Miriam Diamond (2007) and David Keith (2006).