Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Opening Remarks for Sustainability Panel

Yesterday evening I took part in an all parties panel on sustainability. It was part of Dal Green Week, and co-hosted by the FUSION Sustainability Action Team. Below is the text of my opening remarks.

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Good evening. Thanks to our hosts, and to all of you for joining the discussion this evening. 

The term "sustainable" is thrown around a lot in these kinds of conversations, and I'd like to take a moment to look a little deeper at what it actually means. 

I think to understand what it means to be sustainable it is necessary to understand the opposite: what does it mean to be unsustainable? It's quite simple really. Unsustainable means cannot continue. Unsustainable means certain to end. 

When we say that heating our homes with fossil fuels is unsustainable, it means that it cannot continue forever. When we say that an economy based on ever increasing consumption is unsustainable, it means that it is certain to end. Unsustainable does not just mean "bad" or "environmentally damaging," unsustainable actually means unreliable. 

On the other hand, what does it mean to be sustainable? Sustainable means reliable for the long term. Sustainable means strong, resilient and dependable. 

We're entering a period where sustainability is crucial. A successful business has a sustainable revenue stream. Sustainable employment is good employment. Sustainable use of resources is essential for our future wealth. 

Sustainability is more than just a catch phrase, it is an approach to building prosperity that we can rely on. Nova Scotia is overflowing with potential. We have tremendous renewable resources, a motivated and educated workforce, strong communities, and skilled entrepreneurs. 

It's time to stop making excuses and start getting things done. With a few forward thinking policies from government we can transform our economy and build our prosperity even through this economic downturn. 

There are very simple steps we can take. If we mandate a fair price for renewable energy producers, a strong local industry will develop. If we develop a comprehensive transportation strategy we will be able to invest our limited dollars to much greater effect for the long term. If we support efficiency efforts, Nova Scotians will be able to save money and energy far into the future.

These are not just nice things to do for our environment, they are essential tools for building long term prosperity in our province. We need to be proactive and seek out opportunities. We need to look around the world for best practices and adopt them to Nova Scotia.

There are tremendous opportunities for a green economy, green jobs and sustainable prosperity. The possibilities are almost endless. But it's up to us to make it happen. 

Thank you. I look forward to your questions and our discussion this evening.