The purpose of a Biosphere Eco-City (BEC) initiative is to engage people in sustainability. Its intent is to support government and stakeholder actions to create a sustainable city. BEC describes sustainability as using only the resources we need for a good life and leaving the rest for nature and future generations. Projects for sustainability always have a dual focus on people and some element of nature.

Because we achieve sustainability together, the main resource for BEC activities is the ideas and energy of people. To bring people together for discussion and action, BEC uses a framework of 10 Themes of Sustainability. Everyone can relate to at least one of the Themes. Also, to support its purpose, BEC uses Tools of Engagement to make it easy for people and stakeholders to become active in sustainability.

As we practice sustainability, it becomes part of our culture. That will then continue to direct us in ways to live in harmony with nature. This Culture of Sustainability is the goal of the BEC program.

For more information on Biosphere Eco-Cities go to the BEC Canada website

The name Biosphere Eco-City simply means a sustainable city that supports the health of the Biosphere. The following are simple explanations of the Biosphere and its component parts – Biomes and Ecosystems.


The Biosphere (literally “sphere of life”) is the collection of all life on Earth, from deep-sea crabs in ocean trenches to the birds in the air. This very complex interactive system supports all life. The Biosphere exists in constant balance with those smaller parts of itself in which we live – Biomes and Ecosystems. As they change, so does the Biosphere.

The Biosphere gets its vitality from the life within it. In return, it maintains stability for uncounted life forms.


Biomes are very large grouping of the world’s vegetation. Their characteristics are strongly influenced by three main elements of the Biosphere – land, water, and atmosphere, and by location. These determine climate and soils in a Biome, and the types of plants and animals that will live there. The Biosphere contains about a dozen Biomes.

To use a rough analogy, a Biome is like an organ in the human body. It functions in its own specialized way and works in balance with the other Biomes (organs). A Biome cannot exist on its own but needs the Biosphere (the body) to exist.


An Ecosystem (ecological system) is a small part of a Biome (and of the Biosphere). Using a rough analogy, think of an ecosystem as a building block of a Biome; just like a human cell is a building block of an organ. And as cells need the body to survive, ecosystems need the Biosphere.

We define an ecosystem as an area in which organisms relate to their environment in similar ways. Ecosystems studies focus on how plants and animals produce and consume energy, food chains, inputs from the sun, flows of carbon etc. Two ecosystems may have similar plants and animals, but with different relative numbers and relationships.