Nestled on the north shore of the Lake of the Woods, Kenora offers a pristine wilderness setting that is perhaps one of the most beautiful destinations in the country.
I was fortunate enough to be in this magnificent northern Ontario city when I attended the recent 2015 National Forest Sector Innovation Summit. Held at the picturesque Lakeside Inn in the heart of Canada’s amazing boreal forest, it was the perfect location for a forestry innovation summit.
The summit, which ran from July 8 to 9, was by hosted by Natural Resources Canada on behalf of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. The event was well attended, including by several forestry signatories of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), provincial and federal government officials, Aboriginal representatives, mayors from both Ontario and Quebec, college and university executives and other research organizations.
It also proved most productive with the release of the Kenora Declaration on Forest Innovation, a document endorsed by all participants to supporting and advancing forest sector innovation in Canada. The document speaks to the remarkable potential for innovations in forest products.
I heard from many diverse speakers from across the sector about the importance of innovation in forestry.
Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford praised the important role the forest sector plays in the Canadian economy in creating jobs and economic growth across the country. He said the summit provided an important forum for key partners to find new ways to support the industry’s ongoing transformation.
Glenn Mason, assistant deputy minister of Natural Resources Canada, gave a presentation entitled Sharing Priorities, Realizing the Vision: Charting a course for the next phase of forest innovation in Canada.
David Lindsay, President and CEO of Forest Products Association of Canada, said innovation in forest products and processes are the pathway to prosperity and job creation. He added that the Kenora Declaration will help reach FPAC’s Vision2020 goal of generating an additional $20 billion in economic activity by the end of the decade.
As a group, we discussed how best to harness the power of the Canadian forest innovation system, analyze market trends and future opportunities. We also assessed the progress that has been made to date in forest innovation, and looked at the need for further industry transformation
The Kenora Declaration marks a commitment to advancing forest sector innovation by collaborating on investments to commercialize innovations with a focus on environmental excellence, engaging prospective partners in non-traditional industries and the academic field, and mobilizing the best talent and technologies to address the future needs of the forest sector.
As I listened to the contributions put forward by this insightful group of boreal forest leaders, I was reminded of the importance of collaboration and working together towards a common goal, the central components of what the CBFA embodies.
Innovation has allowed the signatories of the CBFA to achieve many successes since we signed the agreement in 2010 and will continue to play a major role in in securing the future of the Canadian forestry sector in a manner that that works for all of our signatories – environmental and industry.