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Sustainability planning across borders

UCLA Public Affairs students travel to Vancouver to compare sustainability planning.

On March 20 fourteen students from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs embarked on a trip to study Los Angeles’ West Coast sister city: Vancouver, Canada. Conceived of, planned, and executed by students, the trip is a case study of two similar cities’ very different approaches to sustainability planning.

Highlights of the trip include:

• A tour of an energy utility that runs on recycled waste
• Touring Skytrain HQ: Vancouver’s rapidly growing public transit system
• Bike rides through Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver to learn about the city’s commitment to green space andits unique urban design known “Vancouverism”
• Visiting laneway homes that are increasing the housing stock through innovative zoning reform
• A tour of the Olympic Village and learning exchange hosted by the University of British Columbia School of Regional and Community Planning Students (or “SCARPIEs”)

The study tour is hardly your typical spring break — students plan to meet with over 15 different city planners, non-profit leaders, and private developers, representing over 10 different organizations and city agencies. Every day is at least nine hours of in-depth learning via lectures, panels, and tours, as well as conversations focused on the most challenging aspect of sustainability planning: real, on-the-ground implementation stories and strategies of these ambitious plans and lofty targets. The students also bring to Vancouver their own experiences from classes and internships in the fields of transportation, affordable housing, and public health, and the hard lessons learned will be used to produce a sharp, analytical report, focusing on concrete lessons and actionable initiatives that Los Angeles can learn from as it adopts its own city-wide sustainability plan.

This trip is made possible by the generous support of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, the Canadian Studies Program at UCLA, the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Program, and the Liberty Hill Foundation.

Supporters can follow the trip’s progress on the group’s Twitter account @LuskinVancouver and at

A public event will be held on campus to share the group’s findings with the UCLA community.

Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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