Life in 2030: Exploring a Sustainable Future for Canada


168 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0569-2
DDC 333.70971





Reviewed by Colin Millette

Colin Millette is a rural planning and development consultant in Guelph,


Life in 2030 aims to describe the feasibility and impacts of a future
for Canada based on the principles of environmental and sociopolitical
sustainability. Sustainability is defined by the authors as the
“persistence over an apparently indefinite future of certain necessary
and desired characteristics of the sociopolitical system and its natural
environment.” Sustainability is seen not as an end in itself but
rather as a dynamic process supported by the resilience of the
environmental and sociopolitical systems.

Using the Statistics Canada–developed Socio-Economic Resource
Framework (SERF), the authors assessed simulations for alternative
futures by modeling physical aspects of the Canadian socioeconomic
system. Comparisons were made between life in 1990 and life in 2030. A
method known as backcasting, which involves working backward from a
desired future endpoint (or set of goals) to the present, is done to
determine the physical feasibility of the future and the policy measures
that would be required to reach that endpoint.

The scenarios developed by the authors are inherently consistent in
depicting such variables as energy-flow production and consumption.
Their assumptions are explicit, as are the trade-offs and
cause-and-effect relationships in their interpretations and analysis.
The feasibility of the future presented is left up to the reader’s
judgment. The authors are cognizant of the study’s limitations—for
example, in addressing power relationships within society and in
assessing economic issues, particularly the impact of the global economy
on Canada.

All in all, Life in 2030 is a valuable and stimu-lating contribution to
the ongoing debate on sustainable development.


Robinson, John B., et al., “Life in 2030: Exploring a Sustainable Future for Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,