What We Do
Introducing Sustainable Prosperity: A Think Tank. A Do Tank.
Made up of business, environment, policy and academic leaders Sustainable Prosperity (SP) is a national green economy think tank/do tank. We harness leading-edge thinking to advance innovation in policy and markets, in the pursuit of a greener, more competitive Canadian economy. At the same time, SP actively helps broker real-world solutions by bringing public and private sector decision-makers to the table with expert researchers to both design and apply innovative policies and programs.
For a greener, more competitive Canadian economy.
Over the past few decades, the environmental challenges facing Canada have grown in scale and complexity faster than our efforts to contain them. Across the country, we're already feeling the impacts of climate change; this year the arctic ice cap was almost 33 percent smaller than its average size from 1979 to 2000. And current reports put the area of forests under pine beetle attacks in British Columbia at 13.5 million hectares. We're also feeling the impacts of high levels of air pollution in major Canadian urban regions such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal and Saint John which directly affects the health of millions of Canadians.
The operating system of our modern world – the capitalist market – is an incredible tool. It links billions of producers and consumers every day, generating price signals that help people around the world decide what to make and what to buy. But when it comes to conserving Earth’s natural environment, our markets are badly broken: we don't pay the true environmental costs of making, using and getting rid of stuff.
Indeed, everywhere we look, we see products whose prices don't reflect the true costs of their production. Local food often costs more than imported food, because we don't pay for the climate change caused by getting it to our tables or the damage to soil and water from poor farming practices. Recycled paper usually costs more, too, because we don't pay for the loss of virgin forests or for the water and air pollution from making non-recycled paper. So well-intentioned Canadians continue to make millions of rational economic decisions every day that add to our environmental challenges.
This would be serious enough if the world economy were set to continue to grow at its current pace. But, in fact, it is set to expand exponentially. So it's imperative that we start making markets work for the environment.
How do we inject natural values into our economic system?
There are many examples of market-based environmental policies already being used; in Canada we are lagging behind many other countries in putting these policies into practice. They fall into two main categories:
- Creating markets for nature's environmental services that we now treat as free.
- Adjusting fiscal policy to better integrate environmental costs and benefits. By fiscal policy we mean the way government collects money (through taxes, royalties and user fees) and spends money (e.g., through programs, grants, tax credits, exemptions, refunds and rebates, and accelerated capital cost allowances).
Our approach is unique. We believe that achieving the necessary innovation in policy and markets for a stronger, greener Canadian economy requires a new knowledge base and new conversations. SP’ s approach is to promote both.
We do this by:
- synthesize and advance policy-relevant research on market-based approaches to advance environmental protection and economic sustainability, through a national network of academics and experts.
- bring together unusual alliances of researchers, decision-makers and policy leaders, across the environment-economy spectrum.
- communicate research-based analyses and options for policy initiatives to build a stronger, greener, more competitive economy.