September 13-20, 2004

New Environment Minister outlines priorities for meeting economic, environmental challenges

Federal Environment Minister St√ąphane Dion has called for governments, industry, environmental organizations and others to work together to ensure that Canada and Canadians are in a position to harvest the opportunities offered by a changing global economy. Speaking at a recent meeting of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Dion referred to the links between environmental considerations and economic competitiveness as a "new Industrial Revolution."

"More and more, we see the signs of what can only be described as a new Industrial Revolution, a revolution that is placing the environment as a key driver of creativity, of innovation and of competitiveness around the world," he said. "Those nations that succeed in reconciling their environment and their economy will enjoy an insurmountable economic advantage," he added.

Dion noted that other nations threaten to leave Canada at a competitive disadvantage because they are adopting long-term goals for energy conservation and are investing in renewable and alternative energy sources and sustainable resource practices that will position them to meet the challenges of the next 50 years.

The minister outlined his vision of a collaborative, national approach to ensure that Canada and Canadian enterprise will be among the leaders in this new competitive environment. He cited five areas as priorities:

*an improved and more effective decision-making process that includes governments, industry and citizens;

*a stronger approach to science and technology;

*a mechanism to ensure that information about the state of Canada's environment is developed to allow the nation to set clear targets and measure results, just as it does on economic performance;

*an incentive and penalty structure which is both streamlined and fair; and

*a focus on education to help all Canadians make informed choices.

"Canada is already home to some of the world's leading-edge, innovative industry leaders who are proving that investing in sustainable practices places them at the forefront of their field," said Natural Resources Minister John Efford. "Companies must adapt to this changing global economy in order to lead the way in the coming decades and ultimately ensure Canada's long-term economic and environmental health."

Dion further suggested that a way to help Canada move to the forefront of the sustainable economy may be the creation of a series of permanent sector sustainability tables which would bring together stakeholders from across the private and public sectors and other key elements of Canadian society.

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