Recently retired, William Rees taught at the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), beginning in 1969. He founded SCARP’s ‘Environment and Resource Planning’ concentration and from 1994 to 1999 served as director of the School. Prof Rees’ teaching and research focus on the public policy and planning implications of global environmental trends and the necessary ecological conditions for sustainable socioeconomic development. Much of this work is in the realm of human ecology and ecological economics, where Prof Rees is best known as the originator of ‘ecological footprint analysis.’

Dr Rees’ book on this method, Our Ecological Footprint (1996, co-authored with then PhD student Mathis Wackernagel)  is now available in English, Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian and Spanish. He is presently supervising several eco-footprint projects ranging from the sustainability implications of globalization to getting serious about urban sustainability.

Prof Rees is also a founding member and recent past-President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics; a co-investigator in the ‘Global Integrity Project,’ aimed at defining the ecological and political requirements for biodiversity preservation; a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute and a Founding Fellow of the One Earth Initiative.

Drawing parts of his answer from various disciplines, Prof Rees’ current book project asks: “Is Humanity Inherently Unsustainable?” A dynamic speaker, Prof Rees has been invited to lecture on areas of his expertise across Canada and the US, as well as in Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, the former Soviet Union, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the UK. In 1997, UBC awarded William Rees a Senior Killam Research Prize in acknowledgment of his research achievements and, in 2000, The Vancouver Sun recognized him as one of British Columbia’s top “public intellectuals”. In 2006, Prof Rees was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and, in 2007, he was awarded a prestigious 3-year Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellowship.

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