A top-level delegation from Alberta that includes several cabinet ministers is heading to Vancouver this month to take part in GLOBE 2004 – North America’s premier environment business conference and trade show.
For the first time since the biennial show began in 1990, Alberta is teaming with B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba to showcase the West’s environment business sector in a new Western Canada Pavilion that will take up about a third of the exhibition floor at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Alberta is intensifying its involvement this year in the eighth trade fair and conference because the March 31-April 2 event “is vitally important” to the province, says Alberta Economic Minister Mark Norris.
“We have great operators here, not only in the oil and gas fields, but also in the environmental services sector,” he says.
“It’s one of the emerging industries that our department and government have identified as deserving of our support.”
Western Canada’s environmental industry represents a market worth more than $5.5 billion, according to recent figures from Industry Canada.
About 250 of the more than 2,200 companies in the region exported more than $300 million of their products and services in 2000.
Alberta and B.C. dominate the sector, with Alberta having 46 per cent of the region’s 50,000-plus environmentally related practitioners and B.C. accounting for about 43 per cent.
Not surprisingly, Alberta companies have extensive experience in providing products and services to the resource sector, especially the oil and gas industry.
B.C.’s strengths are demonstrated in alternative energies, including fuel cells, liquid natural gas-liquid petroleum gas technologies, and biomass energy co-generation systems.
Norris notes that Alberta companies serving the oilpatch, such as well fire-fighting firms like Calgary-based Safety Boss Inc., have become world renowned for their expertise and specialized equipment.
“This show is about the latest technology and people coming to buy, especially lately from emerging markets . . . it’s a working trade show,” he says.
Norris is planning to attend the event, as will Environment Minister Lorne Taylor, Energy Minister Murray Smith and Finance Minister Pat Nelson.
Joe Chowaniec, director of program and event development at the Environmental Services Association of Alberta in Edmonton, says at least 20 companies in the province will be full-booth exhibitors at GLOBE, in addition to about 16 associate exhibitors displaying their literature.
“The show is very valuable to the association. It’s one of those shows that we have to be at,” Chowaniec says.
Post-show surveys by Alberta Economic Development show that participation in GLOBE results in new sales, business deals and other economic opportunities.
John Wiebe, president and CEO of the Globe Foundation of Canada, says the event’s focus is on the business of the environment and the economic opportunities arising from environmental issues.
Three themes this year are corporate social responsibility, energy and environment (including Suncor CEO Rick George talking about climate change issues), and the ‘urban agenda’ or quality of the urban environment.
About 1,200 conference delegates are expected to attend, in addition to another 1,200-1,500 at the trade show, plus up to 5,000 visitors.
Highlights of the trade show will include a transportation showcase, with major car makers showing off their latest consumer and commercial hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.
As part of the urban agenda theme, architects and engineers will build a full-size condominium on the trade show floor, incorporating state-of-the-art building technologies and products.