New Joint Energy/Agriculture Summit To Focus On Sustainable Development And Economic Diversification

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As Albertans digest the sweeping measures proposed in the province's new economic recovery plan, a unique summit planned for September may help provide tangible economic growth pathways forward.

The Energy-Ag Sustainability Summit: Growing Forward Together is an effort to bring Alberta’s two primary economic engines together for collaboration conversations that focus on two key themes: sustainable development and economic diversification, said JWN Energy CEO Bill Whitelaw.

Within Alberta’s economic recovery framework, there seems to be an appetite for creative thinking to lay the foundation for the province's next-generation economy, said Whitelaw.

"It's clear to summit organizers that not only do the energy and agriculture sectors share many of the same challenges, they also share some key opportunities. We're hoping the summit kick starts some important dialogue that the two sectors can embrace collaboratively to drive cross-sectoral innovation."

JWN Energy, Radicle and Weather Innovations, as businesses, have joined forces with the Energy Futures Lab, Creative Destruction Lab and Ag for Life to design the summit's air, water and land themes, which will involve grassroots practitioners from both industries working through discussions that focus on solutions that balance both sustainability and economic benefits.

In turn, that will be attractive to a diverse spectrum of stakeholders — including global investors.

"Alberta has an incredible opportunity to make a phenomenal declaration to Canada and the rest of the world: that agriculture and energy are joined at the hip to develop best-in-class innovations that tackle emissions, water and ecosystem health challenges,” explained Whitelaw.

"Partnerships would enhance environmental stewardship, demonstrate economic resilience, generate new economic opportunities and pave the way to new employment opportunities — all at a very opportune time.”

The summit will open and close with plenary sessions involving sector leaders, but the real work will be done by the 150 participants in the digitally enabled air, water and land workshops to take place during the summit. Co-led by specialists from each sector, the workshops will focus on real-time solutions. Such solutions can be technical or process-based but will emerge as experiences and challenges are shared.

"Both agriculture and energy are major water users, for example, and both sectors have moved substantively forward ... but that momentum could possibly be accelerated through simple perspective sharing," said Whitelaw.

To the degree that both sectors are also stepping up to meet global ESG challenges, the summit's delegates will also wrestle with creative ways to articulate ESG performance across sectoral boundaries, he added.

Glacier Resource Innovation Group (GRIG)’s director of strategic planning, Wendy Ell, is working with organizers to develop working sessions that allow for the most productive and operative transfer of knowledge. JWN Energy is a division of GRIG.

"It will be important for us to help both sectors understand why now, in a post-COVID landscape, new forms of co-ordination, collaboration and communication are necessary," she said. "Our event will help leaders and sustainability practitioners in both sectors understand more about what it truly means to be a climate actor. It will address issues in air, land and water that are faced by both sectors, draw out gains met on either side, identify how/where technology can best help us, map out the stakeholders that are vital in the development of a strong and healthy cross-sectoral innovation ecosystem, ask what investors are truly seeking, and also begin to speak to ways of collectively encouraging more constructive narratives."

The overall goal of this summit, and the subsequent discussions that evolve thereafter, are to mobilize organizations to come together in the areas where it makes the most sense to do so, and in return, accelerate positive returns — both economically and environmentally,” said Ell.

"As Alberta pivots to its next-generation economic future, it will be critical that we have the confidence of Canadians and of investors. Tying together two sectors so critical to our quality of life in Canada seems like a pretty obvious thing to do. We can't afford to live in our solitudes for much longer," added Whitelaw.

For information on sponsoring opportunities, please reach out to Wendy Ell at well@glacierrig.com.