Monday, April 24, 2006

Environment and Economic Prosperity

Each generation is entitled to the interest on the natural capital, but the principal should be handed on unimpaired”. Commission on Conservation, Ottawa 1915

Canadians have appreciated the significance of preserving the natural capital, long before the world defined sustainable development. In today’s international market, sustainability ensures a nation’s economic prosperity and drives innovation and competitiveness.

Thanks to many great leaders of our country, Canada has always been a leader in environmental conservation in the world. However, the new challenge facing Canada’s future is addressing the opportunities reflected in the evolving resource marketplace, taking into account many factors, such as energy security, economic and industrial development, employment, international competitiveness as well as environmental protection.

Our challenge, as a resource-based trading nation, comes from the changing international market that is increasingly evolving to make the greenhouse gas performance a factor in market access and investment decisions. As resources become scarce, waste management establishes the fate of industries, as much as better use of energy and raw material. Our international competitors are focusing their efforts on more efficient industrial processes. Developed countries that have thrived in small areas of land have been forced to minimize their industrial and urban waste generation, and invest in renewable materials. In this market, environmental sustainability drives innovation and competitiveness.

More than any other country, we combine a rich and varied mix of energy sources with the knowledge capital that can enable us to maintain our global leadership in the energy economy. Untapped wind, water, solar and biomass resources of world-class caliber thrive alongside the hydrocarbon, coal, uranium and large-hydro resources that have formed the basis of Canada’s energy wealth. In the past Canada has been one of the knowledge leaders in alternative energy production such as biomass and hydrogen technology. The geographic diversity of our communities enables us to experiment with technologies for urban and remote locations, as well as for cold and moderate weather conditions. In other words, we have all the resources necessary to adapt to the coming energy revolution, only if we advance strategically and with clear vision.

As Canada’s economic vitality remains in the opportunity to invest in a low-carbon and low-waste economy, there are real constraints on the policy front. Canada’s confederation model introduces jurisdictional limits that establish substantive hurdles and that often require complex and significant efforts in the area of federal–provincial relations. Therefore, more than ever, investing in research, education and policy development in the areas of alternative energy production, renewable material and waste minimization, can guarantee Canada’s economic prosperity in near future.

These circumstances require a clear vision and a timely response that pursue opportunities in today’s international market for economic prosperity. The pillars of such vision and response stand on knowledge, education and innovation.


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