DE Design + Environment Inc. / David Nicholas Oswald

David Nicholas Oswald – DE Design + Environment Inc.


DE is a design and environmental consultancy and technology company with the mission to solve problems using design and environmental science.  Sustainability is a core company value. DE was founded in 2005 in Montreal by BC native, David Oswald, but has its HQ now in Vancouver as of Oct 2016.

DE has become known for its work in integrated environmental analysis in the Caribbean, helping countries adapt to climate change.  As a result of years of work having a positive impact on society and the environment, in 2016 David was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

DE has worked in Latin America for 12 years realizing sustainable development and fostering cultural connections with Canada.  David and his team are regularly called upon by the United Nations to provide expertise in design thinking and environmental analysis to address challenges such as the fight against global climate change.     


DE has had very humble beginnings of being a bootstrap operation started in an apartment in Montreal and then grown to become a respected company working at the forefront of the ‘business of the environment’.  For example, in this past month of Sept 2017, the work of DE was presented in front of a United Nations plenary session in China with over 110 countries represented. DE has also completed major design projects in Canada such as the Telus Spark Science Centre, demonstrating that the company is truly cross-disciplinary.  DE now competes with industry-leading firms and brings a unique combination of deep environmental skills and knowledge delivered in creative and innovative ways.

-Challenge – breaking through internationally and sticking it out

The company has faced many challenges but the most significant one was maintaining a steadfast belief in the core idea of bringing innovation in design to environmental issues to create a better world.  When the company started in 2005 in Montreal the world was definitely not ‘switched on’ to the idea of green technology or green business. For example, early pitches to banks for environmental strategy were met with blank stares.  Now DE is called to Mexico to present to leading banks on risk analysis and environmental factors such as disasters.

The underlying message shown by the progress of DE is that dreams or visions, even when bigger than the organization, can become reality.  Persistence and perseverance is key. One of David’s quotes is: “entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint”.

-Company Growth – from a Montreal Apartment to the Global Stage

DE is now poised for further growth and development.  The company has a strong foothold in Latin America and the Caribbean and has ambitions to grow into Asia.  In July of 2017 DE was awarded a place in the BC Government’s STIR (Start Up In Residence) program in which companies are selected to work on specific technological challenges the government faces.  Although not a start up, this award marks DE’s opening up a new chapter as a technology company as well as being a leading design and environmental consultancy. Vancouver is now DE’s HQ and base of operations and therefore there is a strong desire to connect closer with the community and to bring value to the local society in Vancouver.

Most recently DE has been working for the government of Saint Lucia on the development of their National Environmental Information System.  DE has co-produced this ground-breaking software platform with Caribbean regional partner Mona Geoinformatics Institute, located in Jamaica. The United Nations and the Global Environmental Facility have supported this project.  The system will help Saint Lucia report to Multi-Lateral Environmental Agreements they have signed on to by integrating diverse environmental data related to issues such as climate change, ecosystem health, and the status of land cover.  Saint Lucia’s NEIS was launched in August with accolades from the Minister of Education and other government representatives:


The bulk of DE’s voluntary engagement has been in the international sustainable development area through pro-bono engagement with environmental non-governmental organizations and the United Nations.  DE has collaborated extensively with the United Nations Secretariat for the Conservation of Biological Diversity through engagement on certain areas related to conservation as well as sponsoring events.  David Oswald, DE President, is also an Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University and through this role provides guidance and mentorship.

With the move back to British Columbia DE is more actively involved with the local business community and the University of British Columbia.  David Oswald is also the founder of Westcoast Nintai – Aiki Ju Jitsu and works with local people to train them in Japanese Ju Jitsu (martial arts) to be come more resilient and healthy.