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March 31, 2016

GLOBE 2016: A Spirit of Great Things in Canada – Robert Haller

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I was finally able to attend my first GLOBE Series event and it was everything that I expected and more. Held in Vancouver every other year, this year’s event ran from March 2nd to 4th. It was billed as the Leadership Summit for Sustainable Business and it lived up to its billing – attracting environmental leaders from across the country and from around the world.  

It was noted by many that they cannot recall the last time a Prime Minister opened a major environmental event in Canada. The crowd was clearly inspired by Prime Minister Trudeau’s opening plenary comments in support of innovation, research and federal support for strengthening Canada’s "clean" economy. Many of his comments were a lead-up to the most recent budget announcements. B.C.’s Premier Clark provided an equally inspiring message as she shared the story of that province’s successes.  In fact, all the provincial premiers were in town for their First Ministers meetings, so they all took part in the GLOBE event.  A major highlight was the Ontario-Quebec Reception where Premiers Wynne and Couillard signed a significant MOU in support of water research and the joint development of innovative technologies.

As Canada’s biggest environmental conference and trade show, it covers the full spectrum of environmental topics, with a great amount of focus on energy as well as on the oil sector, but there was still a lot of room for discussions around water and wastewater. Meanwhile, many panel sessions were all-encompassing as they explored models for sustainability and resilience and innovation. Of course, an overriding theme throughout the conference is climate change. I sat in on a great session titled "Water Integrity: Infrastructure & Innovation," while down the hall a forum of international mayors  discussed "Advancing Intelligent Cities".   

My favourite part of most conferences is the trade show and this GLOBE event (and Montreal’s Americana event on alternate years) is the biggest in Canada. I enjoy making new contacts, getting a feel for what’s going on in our innovative community and, of course, telling them all about CWWA.    

While this event has been occurring every two years for quite some time, longtime delegates expressed new excitement for what they can achieve.  With federal and provincial support clearly expressed at the conference, it had a palpable sense of relevance as a key place where environmental leaders, innovators and government will meet to forge meaningful plans.


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