Date: Saturday, 5 December 2015
*Please note new time*: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Cities and Regions Pavilion in the Climate Generations Areas, Le Bourget site
As the economic development agency for the City of Vancouver, the VEC knows that there is a strong and clear business case for climate action.
Vancouver is fast becoming a global model for how to grow an economy while reducing carbon emissions, and is taking steps to capitalize even further on the enormous shifts taking place in the energy marketplace, recently setting a goal of becoming 100 percent renewable by 2050.
This invite-only workshop brings together economic development and green growth practitioners to discuss data-driven strategies to grow the green economy, using Vancouver as a case study.
A Green, 100 percent renewable Vancouver
Vancouver has always been a place for sustainability and innovation; a city home to world-changing ideas and businesses such as Greenpeace, TED Talks, and D-Wave (designers of the world’s first quantum computer). Vancouver businesses are powerful drivers for change and have been delivering solutions to sustainability challenges, testing alternatives to traditional ways of operating, and sharing these innovations around the world for decades.
Accelerating green innovation is a key pillar of Vancouver’s sustainability strategy. In 2011, city council approved the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP), establishing a 10-year strategy for Vancouver to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Seeing tremendous success in the first five years of the plan, council updated the plan in November 2015, adding a vision to be 100 percent renewable energy powered and fossil fuel free by 2050.
The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) works to advance these goals while positioning Vancouver as a globally recognized city for innovative, creative and sustainable business. The VEC’s focus is on the green economy, and while greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water consumption and car trips all decreased (7 percent over 2007 levels; 18 percent over 2008 levels; 16 percent over 2006 levels; and 20 percent respectively), green jobs have grown 19 percent since 2010 and the population of downtown Vancouver has grown by 75 percent over the past 20 years. Vancouver’s economy has been named by Grosvenor as one of the most resilient in the world, and is forecast to grow faster than any other Canadian economy over the next five years.
A data-driven approach
Vancouver’s approach to growing the green economy had been data driven from the outset, maximizing the economic co-benefits of climate action. The VEC recognizes that traditional economic development—focused on business retention, expansion and attraction and measured primarily by gross domestic product (GDP) or jobs—is not sufficient to serve evolving needs.
We know that Vancouver’s green economy – which includes sectors such as green buildings, clean technology, recycling and local food – generated $1.9 billion of economic activity in 2014, with 1 in 20 Vancouverites working in the green economy. In addition, the VEC is pioneering a new form of economic development—economic development that focuses on strengthening the entire business ecosystem of Vancouver and looks not only at GDP and job numbers, but also a wider set of metrics to communicate economic vibrancy, such as the square feet available for businesses to grow; the strength of the business network; and the amount of institutional engagement. We know that Vancouver’s green and sustainable leadership is a prime driver behind our exceptional global brand, valued at $31.5B in 2015, and that public support for the Greenest City Action Plan is upwards of 70 percent, with over 35,000 citizens contributing to the development of the plan.
Two VEC strategies: Green and Digital Demonstration Program and Green Enterprise Zone
The VEC works directly with a wide range of stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, elected officials, departments of all levels of government, peer organizations, industry associations and educational institutions. This on-the-ground approach allows the VEC to understand the fundamental talent and capital dynamics in the city, address and identify gaps to allow existing businesses to grow, and inspire others around the world to call Vancouver their home.
Earlier this year, the VEC successfully submitted two projects to the Transformative Actions Program (TAP), a 10-year program supporting the development and implementation of local and regional climate projects that raise global ambitions. One of VEC’s TAP projects is the Green and Digital Demonstration Program (GDDP). Launched in 2014, the GDDP provides clean technology and digital entrepreneurs with exceptional access to city-owned infrastructure for proof-of-concept trials and pilot testing. Green economy innovators gain temporary access to test sites and city assets, such as buildings, streets or fleets to test and demonstrate green and digital solutions. Program participants can then leverage Vancouver’s green brand cachet, using the city as a reference when marketing their products and services around the world. The long-term impact of the project is a stronger, more diversified group of companies developing sustainable technologies and distributing them globally.
The second VEC TAP project is the Green Enterprise Zone in the False Creek Flats, an industrial neighbourhood with a vision to become the greenest place to work in the world. This 400-acre industrial area makes up approximately 15 percent of Vancouver’s industrial land base. Working with business, government, community organizations, and academic institutions, the VEC is transforming this central industrial and employment land into an area that is showcasing new clean technologies and innovative business models; green buildings and smart infrastructure; sustainability-related industries; and new impact-based investment. Based on two years of engagement activities with over 150 businesses, 250 students, and dozens of community stakeholders in this area, the VEC has uncovered four essential paths for transforming these inner city industrial lands into an engine for economic, social, and environmental sustainability: smart logistics (transportation); circular economy (textiles and deconstruction); renewables and retrofits (energy); and support programs for innovative green business (policy).
Join the conversation in Paris (Dec 2015) and in Vancouver (March 2016)
The VEC’s session at the Cities and Regions Pavilion provides a case study of Vancouver’s data driven approach to grow the green economy.
In March 2016, Vancouver invites the world to the GLOBE 2016 conference, for a key opportunity to connect on the ‘Road from Paris’. For the past 25 years, the GLOBE Series has served as the nexus for global networking and leadership on the business of the environment, attracting leaders from around the world. Taking place every two years in Vancouver, GLOBE brings together leaders from the international sustainable business community, offering a forum for learning and networking. In addition, GLOBE 2016 will help cities and businesses to make sense of the post-COP21 reality, adjusting and contributing to the new climate regime.
By joining the TAP and presenting at the Cities and Regions Pavilion, the VEC and the City of Vancouver are demonstrating their unwavering commitment to ambitious, coordinated climate action.
Featured image courtesy of ecstaticist via Flickr.