Working in a Warming World Atlantic Forum will focus on building a green economy

Andrew Secord and Joan McFarland are organizers of the Work in a Warming World Atlantic Forum this week. Environmentalists, economists and policy experts will attend the forum. (Tom Bateman/AQ)

Organizers of the Work in a Warming World Atlantic Forum want to save the planet – and the economy.

The forum takes place Thursday and Friday at the St. Thomas University Forest Hill Conference Centre and will bring economists, environmentalists and others together to talk about creating a sustainable economy.

“We’re the force behind creating a green economy,” said Andrew Secord, chair of STU’s economics department.

“We’re kind of like cheerleaders from the academic community.”

While lacking the cheerleader look, Secord, a stout, white-haired man, is one of the four organizers of the forum. Each comes from a different background.

Another organizer, David Coon, says the province is on the brink of seeing real change, which includes creating many more “green jobs.”

“The food sector has already grown in response to the need to be greener,” said Coon, who is also executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick

“We want to see it expand in areas like transportation and public infrastructure.”

The forum will look at examples, like a new wind turbine plant in Nova Scotia,  to show how jobs can be made by addressing climate change.

“We can no longer count on fossil fuels,” Coon said. “So what in our economy will take its place and how can we turn that into job growth?”

Coon’s question will be answered by economists, environmentalists and policy experts from all over Atlantic Canada and New England, including Dr. William Rees, a professor in the school of community and regional planning at the University of British Columbia.

Rees is the co-author of Our Ecological Footprint, a book that organizer and STU economics professor Joan McFarland praises.

“It’s almost the textbook for the environmental movement,” said McFarland. “It’s had quite an impact and people recognize the name.”

Rees’ keynote address about confronting ecological change is expected to draw a capacity crowd on Thursday at 7:30 p.m at the Forest Hill Conference Centre.

“He’s of interest…not just to those in environmental studies, but sociology, political science, economics – right across the spectrum,” said Secord.

“He really is one of the leading thinkers and publishers on the question of how to confront planetary limits of growth.”

McFarland praised the range of people from different fields that will attend the forum.

“We are unique,” she said. “This team we’ve assembled to execute this initiative is made up of academics working next to outside officials.

“Normally that is not the case, but we’re working directly with the other fields to get things done.”

For Secord, the forum is a way to “get the ball rolling” on green economy initiatives before it’s too late.

“The shift in the economy is coming,” he said. “We’re  trying to speed up that process.”

While Coon agrees that the talks are vital, he hopes that the event will carry some weight outside of the conference room.

“I hope this puts issues back on the radar of the [politicians].

“I think that a lot of those in politics think that by ignoring these issues, that they’ll go away.”

For more information about the Work in a Warming World Atlantic Forum, email workinawarmingworld@stu.ca or call 452-0642.

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