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The Land of Opportunity
The economic downturn provided an opportunity for businesses in Canada to reflect on practices and priorities, and to retool and recalculate for the road ahead. As recovery begins to take hold, the words “innovation” and “sustainability” have become focal points for enterprises seeking to ensure business success and longevity. Smart businesses realize that engaging in eco-friendly practices can save money and improve efficiencies and that participating in the knowledge-based economy requires the integration of green technologies and business practices. Additionally, businesses increasingly recognize the wisdom
of integrating the “triple bottom line” approach into business planning, assessing economic, social and environmental impacts and outcomes.
Green technology is necessary to meet the resource needs for today without compromising that ability for future generations. Innovative green technologies that support good environmental practice and benefit the economic bottom line are being integrated into the construction, energy, transportation and waste management industries, just to name a few. In addition to environmentally sound business practices, however, the green business is rapidly emerging as a power-house industry sector in its own right.
Other nations are notably ahead of Canada in both respects. Environmental technologies, goods and services have experienced impressive employment growth – 6.9% in the EU from 2006-08, compared with 1.9% in Canada – and countries like Germany, China, the US, and Italy are benefiting from environmental goods and services exports.
Green business industries related to renewal energy, recycling, waste management, and biodiversity are capturing market share around the globe.
Turn Cost into Profit
A nation abundant in natural resources, Canada is often cited as neglectful of eco-friendly practices. Critics point to a perceived lack of strong environmental regulation, conventional wisdom in many other countries around the globe. Without innovation, implementation of environmentally sound business practices will inevitably raise costs. Canada need not sacrifice competitiveness for environmental improvements, though; adopting a pro-business
investment lens makes them complementary.
The United Nations Environmental Programme states that”…a green economy supports growth, income and jobs”, and that the so-called “trade-off” between economic progress and environmental sustainability is a myth, especially if one measures wealth inclusive of
natural assets, and not just narrowly as produced output. The results of the report indicate that while in the short term economic growth under a “green” scenario may be less than under business as usual, in the longer term (2020 and beyond), moving towards a green economy would outperform business as usual by both traditional measures and more holistic measures.
Entrepreneurs are open and eager to exploring new avenues that can preserve and sustain our environment while supporting increased prosperity. With a supportive pro-business focus, the federal government can lay the foundation for a prosperous, diverse and resilient green economy.
Take a Stand, Chart the Course
Investing in the development of a green economy accomplishes several things:
5. Reduces costs and improves efficiencies: Economic well-being is improved when organizations are enabled to identify waste and inefficiencies in processes, products and services and find cost-saving solutions to those issues. Furthermore, rather than imposing costs on business to promote compliance with environmental reforms, developing
eco-business creates opportunities to profit.
6. Preserves our natural resources and sustains our way of life for future generations: Green technology will be necessary to meet the resource needs for today
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. With a low-carbon energy future we will reduce the need for non-renewable resources with the implementation
conservation and use of renewable ones. Reduced energy costs to run businesses across the country will improve efficiencies and productivity. Clean air and water will improve public health and lessen the burden on the public health care system.
As with all business, there are many risks and challenges along the way. Moving towards a green economy will require Canada’s leaders, civil society and leading businesses to engage in this transition collaboratively. It will require a sustained effort on the part of policy
makers and their constituents to rethink and redefine traditional measures of wealth, prosperity and well-being. However, Canada can put its enterprising culture to good use to improve its environmental track record and capture a share of a burgeoning global market.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommends that the
Government of Canada:
Defining the Green Economy http://www.eco.ca/pdf/Defining-the-Green-Economy-2010.pdf (page 17)
 ECO Canada:
Environmental Trends 2010 Report http://www.eco.ca/pdf/Enviro-Trends-2010-Summary-Report.pdf
 Towards a Green
Economy, UNEP 2011http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/GER_synthesis_en.pdf
 The Conference Board
of Canada http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/details/environment.aspx
 The Green Economy and
Economic Diversification, Canada West Foundation 2010 http://cwf.ca/projects/the-green-economy-and-economic-diversification
 Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade Canada
 ECO Canada: Defining the Green Economy http://www.eco.ca/pdf/Defining-the-Green-Economy-2010.pdf
Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World,
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Key Speaker Series - Zahra Al-Harazi
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September Business After Hours
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