The following five funding areas catalyze and amplify Fair Earth Living. They complement existing bold initiatives and investments in, for example, technological, policy and supply-side solutions.

Emissions hotspots

Take action on ‘emission hotspots’ in connected ways across domains and income

We can prioritize our approaches by focusing on behaviours, practices and lifestyles that have the largest impact. Directing funding towards these ‘emission hotspots’ is a key recommendation of the Cambridge Sustainability Commission:

“Resources and time are limited, and some sectors and lifestyles generate far more emissions than others. Unnecessary travel, meat-based diets, energy and housing are the obvious ones to start with.”

Cambridge Sustainability Commission, Scaling Behaviour Change

Most of the mainstream thinking on Fair Earth Living is centered on five key ‘domains’ or ‘sectors’ of action: buildings, consumer goods, food, leisure and mobility. Proposed high-impact actions for reducing emissions through personal and household-level behaviour change include:

  • reducing home energy consumption and shifting to renewable energy;
  • shifting from car and plane travel towards mass transit and relocalization of daily activities;
  • shifting from meat and dairy consumption towards plant-rich diets.

Other studies recommend not just focusing on one high-impact behaviour at a time, but instead “communicating about multiple behaviours at the same time – painting a picture of a low-carbon lifestyle rather than a set of disjointed decisions.” This makes it possible to to better understand the links and similarities between behaviours.

Richer households contribute more to climate change. The top 10% of income earners globally contribute 45% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IPCC (2022). Because of the disparities in emissions between high-income groups (in Canada and globally) and those who do not yet have their basic needs met, approaches to emission hotspots need to place equity at the centre.

This requires strategies that recognize the vulnerabilities, mutual interdependence and innovation needed to ensure quality of life for all. In general, all segments of society need to take part in the effort:

“Interventions, campaigns and proposals targeting polluter elites and specific sites of behaviour change may have more traction (in terms of public support and political palatability), and be more effective in terms of emissions savings than generic appeals to publics to support and engage in behaviour change.
But there is still work to do in drawing ‘the missing middle’ into the debate: not just those who are already active and living sustainable lifestyles, but also a much wider cross-section of society who can play a key role in driving future change.”

Cambridge Sustainability Commission, Scaling Behaviour Change


Prioritize strategies and/or organizations focused on tackling ‘emission hotspot’ sectors:

  • Support integrated lifestyle campaigns that tackle hotspots in combined ways across key sectors:
    • Food (dietary choice, reducing food waste)
    • Mobility (car-free, public transport, shift to walking, cycling, transit, walkable communities)
    • Housing (efficient heating/building, low-impact and shared appliances)
    • Goods (consuming less not just differently, share/reuse/repair, re-skilling, circular design/economies)
    • Leisure (low-impact celebrations and leisure, local and slow vacations).
  • Fund cross-cutting strategies including redefining wellbeing and the four-day workweek, and taking advantage of life changes (e.g., moving, starting a family, changing jobs, retiring) to support Fair Earth Living.

Fund diverse strategies for different income/emission groups:

  • Prioritize efforts that target high-emitting, high-income populations – including through redefining ‘wealth’, peer dialogue, incentives and disincentives for impactful behaviours (e.g., frequent flyer levies).
  • Fund, amplify, celebrate and reinforce those already living sustainable lives today.
  • Support policy work or programming that explicitly advances the rights and wellbeing of people living in poverty (e.g., community gardens, food sovereignty, accessible transit, efficient housing, etc.).

Cultural change

Transform our culture through social norms,
imagination, and cultural leaders

Imagining Fair Earth Living futures

There is great power in visualizing what Fair Earth Living is and can be.

Transforming our culture means elevating the role of imagination and the arts, particularly in these future-defining discussions. Ultimately, we are reimagining “the good life” and inviting the mainstream to transition from consumer cultures to healthier, more connected, equal and better living in support of nature.

Artists and other creatives are key to this process of “firing the imagination”:

“One of the greatest barriers to change is not believing that change is possible. Supporting organisations to engage citizens in building alternative visions, pathways and concrete projects with short-term visible benefits to set them in motion is empowering and overcomes inertia.”

Cambridge Sustainability Commission, Scaling Behaviour Change

“The capacity of art is to engage the world in terms of the aesthetic. If we are clear on the value this represents (‘world-making’ capacity), and the means by which it arises (powers of attention and expression), then we might resist the tendency to abandon our strengths as the world turns to us in need.”

David Maggs, Art and the World After This, 2021, p. 47.

Mainstreaming social norms through peer influence

Through our peer networks, we influence each other even as we take action. As the Innovation Framework reinforces, “we know that peers are our best teachers”.

Tapping into the storytelling capacity and influence of peers across social media and within social groups is key for mainstreaming and normalizing sustainable everyday living.

“[C]hanging the way we live not only reduces our carbon footprint but helps to shift social norms. The more we can see change happening around us – people like us taking steps towards low-carbon lifestyles – the quicker change will happen.” 

Climate Outreach

Advertising and marketing

Addressing advertising and marketing is critical to speed the transition to Fair Earth Living. Global ad spending reached US$710 billion in 2021, up 22% from 2020, spreading across every media (online, TV, radio, print ads, billboards) and encouraging people to rebound to old consumption habits post-pandemic. 

Advertising bans have shaped behaviours and cultures in the past, including movements restricting tobacco and protecting children. Examples include Adbusters in Canada and the Badvertising campaign in Europe to stop ads fuelling the climate crisis. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood aims to reduce the influence of ads on children, and a global leader is Québec’s policy banning advertising to children under the age of 13.

“Accelerating public communications is critical to mobilizing more (and a broader range) of Canadians in support of climate action…. More public communications professionals (social marketing and media companies) should be brought in to support this work.”

Environment Funders Canada, Building Canada’s Low Carbon Future, 2020

  • Increase funding towards human insight: social sciences, humanities and behaviour change communications.
  • Fund initiatives aimed at developing and mainstreaming narratives that reinforce Fair Earth Living, and counter opposing narratives.
  • Support programs, organizations and campaigns that target advertising and marketing with counter campaigns.
  • Support initiatives that build on peer influence in mainstreaming supportive social norms.
  • Fire the imagination on visions of Fair Earth Living by funding organizations and initiatives aimed at building alternative visions, future pathways and vibrant demonstrations of current sustainable ways of living.
  • Engage the arts in this imaginative and aesthetic process of ‘world-making’, enable dialogue about uncomfortable areas of dissent, open new perceptions and direct our power of attention.

Indigenous and Community Leaders

Support Indigenous-led movements and leading communities

Many communities are already living sustainable lives, reflecting an ethics of care and respect for nature. Shifts in power are required to strengthen the influence and impact of these cultural leaders, whose ways of living – many of them rooted in reciprocity, relationship and interdependence – have been unrecognized, willfully erased or pushed to the periphery. 

Indigenous communities and nations across Canada are showing, and historically have shown, leadership on climate and biodiversity. Many First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities share and promote views that the natural world is not separate from humans, and are acting and governing accordingly, staying connected with practices and lifestyles that reflect these values. For example, the 4Rs youth movement is connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth change makers in respect, reciprocity, reconciliation and relevance.

Other leading communities are adopting promising ways of living outside the western mainstream of wasteful, inequitable consumption. These include intentional communities such as ecovillages or Transition Towns, immigrant communities with strong ties to diaspora globally, and movements led by women and youth. Common practices such as communal sharing, repairing and caring for each other serve as examples of sustainable living in action today.

By acknowledging and celebrating these communities as leaders, we reinforce, normalize and mainstream these ways of living and cultures.

“We need to not only imagine a new way of doing things, but we must, as Canadians, re-imagine our unsustainable economic values and realign them with Indigenous values….
With our understanding of nature, which we depend on as our food source and as a powerful character-builder for our children, Indigenous Peoples have much to offer in helping to galvanize a largely disconnected urban world.”

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and author of The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet

  • Provide consistent, reliable core funding over multiple years for individuals, organizations, and networks led by Indigenous peoples, leading communities, women and youth.
  • Support cultural leadership by reinforcing their existing Fair Earth Living practices and celebrating their ways of living through funding their activities and sharing their stories.
  • Fund Indigenous-led movements and solutions.
  • Enable Indigenous leadership in decision-making, policy agenda-setting and implementation on climate, nature conservation and wellbeing.
  • Support continued and deepened learnings in Indigenous pathways and visions for the future.
  • Foster cross-cultural training across Indigenous knowledge systems and western systems.
  • Decolonize philanthropy and identify efforts to amplify true “reciprocity” and reconciliation based on leadership from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit nations and communities.


Enable sustainable living in cities

Cities play a leading role in addressing climate and nature action. More than half of humanity now lives in urban areas, and cities are responsible for 75% of global resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

In Canada, more than 80% of the population lives in cities. Local governments shape the consumption characteristics of people who live in urban areas, In addition to transforming the built environment, land use, transport systems and infrastructure. 

The true scope of climate and nature impacts lies both within and outside a city’s physical boundaries, impacting the exchange of resources between cities and the rural hinterlands and living ecosystems that support them.

There is a growing interest in addressing consumption-based emissions and the negative ecological and social impacts of consumption of goods and services. One study cautions that to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, urban consumption-based emissions must be at least halved by 2030 (and reduced by two-thirds in high-income areas).

“It’s not enough to just cut direct emissions, we also have to cut the footprint of all the stuff that we consume.”

Lloyd Atler


Local government action requires tracking and measuring a city’s ecological and carbon footprints as well as its impact on natural ecosystems. Dr. Jennie Moore and Cora Hallsworth from the BCIT Centre for EcoCities are working on a pilot project with 10 municipalities across British Columbia mapping consumption and ecological footprints to help close gaps towards sustainability. The ecoCityFootprint Tool has been successfully piloted in BC and around the world. 

Local governments have many levers for change and have more of a direct connection to people and their daily lives than other levels of government. Local policies and regulations shape the housing, transport, food, goods and services that people consume.

Local governments can lead by example by demonstrating Fair Earth Living actions through their staff and services, and can inspire and normalize these practices by supporting the efforts of other urban stakeholders and cultural campaigns and dialogue.


  • Fund consumption-based carbon emissions analysis within cities.
  • Integrate Fair Earth Living concepts into the LC3 frameworks.
  • Support local government initiatives including through policy tools and infrastructure (e.g., influence transportation and housing choices, utility services, natural, open and public spaces), through leading by example (e.g., purchasing, workplace practices, events) and influencing citizens.


Reinforce ecological interdependence and nature regeneration

We are on an unprecedented collision course with the Earth’s life-support systems. To get on a better path, we need to collectively nurture widespread contagious love for nature and our place within it. Cultivating an eco-centric worldview is central to advancing Fair Earth Living.

When we connect with nature, we feel better. In a recent study, nearly 60% of Canadians agreed that their appreciation of the outdoors increased in the wake of Covid-19 (Environics Analytics and EcoAnalytics). Before the crisis, the public and the media tended to treat the environment and public health as separate issues, but the pandemic enabled more of us to step back and consider our interdependence with other living beings and life-giving ecosystems.

Meaningful experiences in nature during childhood can lead to more conservation behaviours as adults. Research shows that the two factors that contribute most to adults taking action to benefit the Earth are: 1) positive direct experiences in nature during childhood, and 2) role models of care for nature by someone close to the child, like a parent, grandparent or other trusted guardian (Convention on Biological Diversity).

“We need acts of restoration, not only for polluted waters and degraded lands, but also for our relationship to the world. We need to restore honor to the way we live, so that when we walk through the world we don’t have to avert our eyes with shame, so that we can hold our heads up high and receive the respectful acknowledgment of the rest of the earth’s beings.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 2013

  • Support groups that cultivate love of nature and an eco-centric worldview that reflects our interdependence with nature – e.g., nature-based solutions and outdoor learning programs.
  • Support programming and narrative work that links health, nature and ways of living including addressing eco-anxiety and climate grief through mental health programs.