Sustainability and Environment

Illustration by Don McNair. Taken from The Resilience Imperative, Co-operative Transitions to a Steady State Economy, a book arising from earlier BALTA research that has helped to shape the Scaling Innovation for Sustainability Project.

Illustration by Don McNair. Taken from The Resilience Imperative, Co-operative Transitions to a Steady State Economy, a book arising from BALTA research (see below).

Books and Book Chapters

The Green Social Economy in British Columbia and Alberta

by Dr. Mike Gismondi, Dr. Lynda Ross and Juanita Marois ( published in 2016 in Scaling Up: The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability, Athabasca University Press)

This chapter is based on research that was part of BALTA’s 2006-2011 mapping program that surveyed social economy organizations in B.C. and Alberta. The chapter examines characteristics of the emerging green economy in Canada’s two furthest western Canadian provinces. One notable finding was that a large sub-sample of the surveyed social economy organizations reported a commitment to an environmental purpose as at least part of their mandate.

Download the chapter for free. (Click on the tab for “free PDF”, then go down to chapter 2 in the list of chapters and click on the download button.)

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Eco-village is a green social enterprise in British Columbia, Canada

The Resilience Imperative, Co-operative Transitions to a Steady State Economy

by Mike Lewis and Pat Conaty (published in 2012 by New Society Publishers; French translation, Impératif Transition: Construire une économie solidaire published in 2015 by les Éditions Écosociété; Korean translation published in 2015 by Tabi Publishing)

RI English version

This book is based upon research and reflection supported by BALTA during its initial research program from 2006-2012. It explored many of the themes that became central to BALTA’s work in its Scaling Innovation for Sustainability Project. With our communities confronted by major sustainability challenges, many linked to the impact of climate change, it argues for replacing the paradigm of limitless economic growth with a more decentralized, co-operative, steady-state economy.  It examines case studies of success in energy sufficiency, local food systems, low-cost community based financing, affordable housing and land reform.

Order the book.

Order the book in French.

RI French version

Order the book in Korean.

Several parts of the book have been adapted into a series of online articles.  See:

Scaling Up: The Convergence of Social Economy and Sustainability

edited by Dr. Mike Gismondi, Dr. Mary Beckie, Dr. Sean Connelly, Dr. Sean Markey and Dr. Mark Roseland (published in 2016 by Athabasca University Press)


The book examines the potential of the social economy to transform the systems that make our current ways of life unsustainable.All of the editors and many of the contributors were involved for many years in BALTA’s research programs and BALTA’s research infuses the book. As the case studies included in the book illustrate, organizations that are capable of harnessing the power of a social economy generally demonstrate a commitment to three outcomes: greater social justice, financial self-sufficiency, and environmental sustainability. Within the matrix of these three allied principles lie new strategic directions for the politics of sustainability.

Order the book.  The book can also be downloaded for free in pdf form.


The Viable Systems Model, A Complexity Management Approach for Sustainability

Featured Presenters:  Dr. Angela Espinosa, Hull University Business School, UK; Dr. Jon Walker, Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Town, UK, and a management consultant with a particular interest in sustainability

In 2011 the presenters published a book, A Complexity Approach to Sustainability: Theory and Application, which looked at the use of the viable systems model for managing complexity and enhancing sustainability.  They provided a briefing about the viable systems model on September 18, 2013, for a small group of BALTA Scaling Innovation for Sustainability Project researchers.

See further information on the webinar.

Projects, Reports, Journal Articles and Other Resources

Hinton and Grande Cache Sustainability Project

BALTA Researchers Involved:  Dr. Mike Gismondi, Athabasca University; Dr. Jorge Sousa, University of Alberta

The resource-based, northern Alberta communities of Hinton and Grande Cache have each identified a crucial need to diversify their traditional economies and social structures. The current economic state of these municipalities is strong but their historic, resource-dependent economies – with their associated boom-and-bust cycles – are considered to be unsustainable for the longer term. Both communities wish to increase their economic diversity, entrepreneurial capacity, the cultural component of their communities, and their long term sustainability. Athabasca University worked with the communities to explore options for addressing these needs.

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For further information about the project and copies of reports produced by the project, see the project website.

See a short article on the project.

Unleashing Local Capital (ULC)

BALTA-linked researchers involved:  Dr. Mike Gismondi and Juanita Marois, Athabasca University; Paul cabaj and Seth Leon, Alberta Community and Co-operative Association; BALTA staff, Danica Straith, also co-wrote a book chapter on Unleashing Local Capital

ULC was initiated and is managed by the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. The project empowers rural Alberta communities to invest locally, direct their own economic development and reduce dependency on government supports by directing outward-bound investments towards local businesses, keeping local capital flowing through local communities. ULC educates communities on how to establish an Opportunity Development Co-operative (ODC) – a  co-op  that pools and manages capital raised from local investors, which is then invested in local businesses. ULC has also directly supported the development of ODCs in several communities. The development of ULC was based on BALTA research and BALTA researchers have supported ULC with research, resource development and evaluation.

See a short video on ULC and opportunity development co-operatives.

Visit the Unleashing Local Capital website.  The site includes information about ULC and ODC, including information about several ODCs that have already been formed.

Read a 2014 evaluation by BALTA researchers of the initial development of Unleashing Local Capital.

Read a report by BALTA researchers on Barriers to Participation in the Unleashing Local Capital Project.

Read a 2015 book chapter by BALTA researchers on Unleashing Local Capital.

Read reports on the earlier BALTA research that helped to inspire and lead to ULC: