David Suzuki Foundation
|Industry||Environmental Policy and Education|
|Founded||Vancouver, British Columbia (1991)|
|Peter Robinson, CEO
David Suzuki, co-founder
The David Suzuki Foundation is a science-based environmental organization headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with offices in Montreal and Toronto. It is a non-profit organization that is incorporated in both Canada and the United States, and is funded by close to 30,000 donors. The Foundation describes its goal as to:
- Work towards balancing human needs with the Earth's ability to sustain all life. Our goal is to find and communicate practical ways to achieve that balance.
The mission of the foundation is to "protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future" and their vision is "that within a generation, Canadians act on the understanding that we are all interconnected and interdependent with nature".
Its origins lie in a 1989 "think-tank" retreat on Pender Island, British Columbia that was organized by David Suzuki and Tara Cullis. A dozen concerned individuals were invited, and inspired by those discussions the Foundation was incorporated on September 14, 1990. It officially opened its doors on January 1, 1991. It is a federally registered Canadian charity supported entirely by Foundation grants and donations. It does not accept any government funding, except from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. It is also not a funding body for other organizations. Currently the Foundation employs roughly fifty staff members. The Foundation's CEO is Peter Robinson, formerly the head of Mountain Equipment Co-op and BC Housing.
The Foundation has four main program departments – Ontario and Northern Region, Quebec/Francophone, B.C. and Western Region, and Science and Policy. Together, they focus on the following areas:
Protecting our climate — ensure that Canada is doing its fair share to avoid dangerous climate change and is on track to achieve a safe level of greenhouse gas emissions.
Transforming the economy — make certain that Canadians can maintain a high quality of life within the finite limits of nature through efficient resource use.
Protecting nature — work to protect the diversity and health of Canada's marine, freshwater, and terrestrial creatures and ecosystems.
Reconnecting with nature — ensure that Canadians, especially youth, learn about their dependence on a healthy environment through outdoor education.
Building community — engage Canadians to live healthier, more fulfilled and just lives with tips on building Earth-friendly infrastructure, making smart energy choices, using efficient transportation, and being mindful of the products, food and water we use.
As part of its work the Foundation publishes newsletters, scientific studies, research reports, books, information kits, brochures, and news releases. Some major project areas include:
Trottier Energy Futures Project – includes scientific reviews of the full range of energy production and distribution opportunities available to Canada, taking into account economic, social and environmental concerns.
Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Seafood – includes work with SeaChoice.org to rank seafood options based on Green (best choice), Yellow (some concerns) and Red (avoid).
The Saint Lawrence: Our Living River – focuses on protecting the health of one of Canada's most important waterways.
Natural Capital Evaluation – evaluates and describes ecosystem services, and calculates the economic cost if we had to provide them ourselves.
Habitat Protection and Endangered Species – includes scientific work to protect species and habitat, including grizzly bears and caribou.
Connecting Youth with Nature – uses educational guides and outreach to encourage kids – and adults – to spend more time outdoors.
Queen of Green – offers useful tips and methods to reduce your personal environmental impact.
David Suzuki's Nature Challenge
As a mechanism to promote public awareness and action with regard to the Foundation's four focuses, the Foundation created the Nature Challenge program. In consultation with the Union of Concerned Scientists the Foundation researched the most effective ways to help conserve nature and improve our quality of life, and invited the public to embrace them in their daily lives. Their list is:
- Reduce home energy use by 10%
- Choose energy-efficient homes & appliances
- Don't use pesticides
- Eat meat-free meals one day a week
- Buy locally grown and produced food
- Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle
- Walk, bike, carpool or take transit
- Choose a home close to work or school
- Support alternative transportation
- Learn more and share with others
As of November 2007, over 500 000 individuals had taken David Suzuki's Nature Challenge. Many famous Canadians are taking David Suzuki's Nature Challenge, including Nelly Furtado, Sam Roberts, Margaret Atwood, Robert Munsch, Larry Campbell, and David Miller.
Sustainability Within a Generation
"Canada vs the OECD: An Environmental Comparison", a 2001 report published by University of Victoria Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Law and Policy Staff and authored by David R. Boyd, environmental lawyer and coauthor of the forthcoming book David Suzuki's Guide to Helping the Planet, examined 25 environmental indicators, ranks Canada 28th out of the 29 OECD nations. The foundation and Boyd created a separate report, "Sustainability within a Generation", that addresses Canada's capacities to improve sustainability and environmental conservation. The foundation believes this can be best accomplished by improving efficiency, eliminating waste and pollution, and building sustainable cities.
List of donors
President of the conservative Canadian Centre for Policy Studies Joseph C. Ben-Ami, citing this statement in his article "Global Warming Charlatan" notes that the foundation's 2005-2006 annual report  lists 52 corporations, including Bell Canada, Toyota, IBM, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Scotia Capital, Warner Bros., Canon and the Bank of Montreal, amongst its 40,000 donors. Many years ago, before the Foundation implemented its Ethical Gift Acceptance Policy, corporate donors included EnCana Corporation, a world leader in natural gas production and oil sands development, and ATCO Gas, Alberta's principal distributor of natural gas, and OPG which is one of the largest suppliers of electricity in the world operating five fossil fuel-burning generation plants and three nuclear plants.
The David Suzuki Foundation's financial and donor information is available on the Foundation website. For 2011/12, most funding (59%) came from individual donors. Foundations and businesses provided another 25% and 13% respectively. More than 95% was from Canadian donors. The David Suzuki Foundation also has an Ethical Gift Acceptance policy.
Three-quarters of the Foundation's 40,000 supporters have donated less than $500.
Columnist Licia Corbella, formerly of The Calgary Sun is a long-standing critic of the David Suzuki Foundation and is known for denying the existence of human-caused climate change. Writing about Suzuki meeting with Calgary elementary school students, states that the speech "was essentially urging those listening not to vote Conservative. That makes his message partisan and should exempt the David Suzuki Foundation from receiving tax deductible status."
However, Suzuki makes a distinction between what he says as an individual and what the Foundation says. For example, he has called Ottawa's plan to fight global warming a "national embarrassment" and has said of the government's energy policy: "It's not a strategy, it's a shame." He makes it clear that this is his personal opinion and has "nothing to do with [his] foundation." And, as Lloyd Alter notes in an article in Treehugger, in Canadian law, charities are permitted to comment on politics:
"Charities have wide latitude to comment on politics, provided they don't endorse parties or candidates and can devote up to 10 per cent of their resources for non-partisan political activities... this spending can be undertaken 'to influence law, policy, and public opinion on matters related to its charitable purposes.' Among the permitted activities, groups can meet with elected officials, hold conferences, workshops, lectures and rallies, and mount letter-writing campaigns about issues."
Suzuki stepped down from the Board of Directors of the Foundation in April 2012.
- . David Suzuki Foundation. Retrieved on: February 12, 2012.
- David Suzuki Foundation, David Suzuki Foundation. "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- David Suzuki Foundation, David Suzuki Foundation. "Foundation Team". Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- Challenge. David Suzuki's Nature Challenge. Retrieved on: October 2, 2007.
- David Suzuki's Guide to Helping the Planet at Amazon.com
- John Oakley interview with David Suzuki
- David Suzuki Foundation Annual Report 05/06
- Global warming charlatan
- Licia Corbella (February 28, 2007). "This is a Charity?" The Calgary Sun.
- Lloyd Alter (June 6, 2007). "Revenooers Chasing David Suzuki." treehugger.com. Retrieved on: October 6, 2007.
- Hoekstra, Gordon. "Suzuki steps down from his foundation". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved April 15, 2012.