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Refreshing Canada's definition of the blue economy – Corporate Knights Magazine

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In Canada and around the world, “building back better” has become the overarching focus of COVID-19 recovery. Eager to be included in this rebuilding process, Canada’s freshwater and ocean sectors have begun to define ambitious visions for the future, linking environmental priorities with job creation and economic growth.

For the ocean community, this vision centres on the “blue economy,” defined in a recent Delphi Group report as referring broadly to economic activities that are both based in and actively good for the ocean. While “blue economy” remains an emerging and somewhat fuzzy concept, the report echoes a growing trend toward viewing a broad range of ocean-related activities – established industries, emerging technologies and environmental challenges – through a single blue-economy lens.

While we applaud this movement toward integrated management of ocean resources, we can’t help but notice that freshwater is missing from the conversation.

From a management perspective, freshwater and oceans have historically been distant cousins – clearly related, occasionally crossing paths, but largely living independent lives. But as our knowledge of planetary systems has evolved, the distance between these two worlds has narrowed considerably, and the number of connections between them has rapidly grown.

Take, for example, desalination technologies. The ocean-based blue-economy definition classifies desalination as an ocean activity (see the World Bank’s 2017 report). But Canadian water technology companies, such as British Columbia–based Saltworks, are successfully developing and applying desalination technologies to a range of industrial wastewater treatment applications.

Or let’s consider the “wicked problem” of plastic. Plastic pollution is a major issue facing the world’s oceans and is increasingly propelling Canada’s international commitments, from its founding role in the Global Plastic Action Partnership to its strong support for the Ocean Plastics Charter. But plastic pollution is not, at its core, an oceans issue. Of the more than eight million tons of plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans every year, most is carried into the ocean by rivers, with 90% of plastic pollution coming from just 10 river systems.

A recent map of Canada’s water-technology ecosystem highlights dozens of similar connections, from hydropower (emerging technologies harnessing both tidal and freshwater currents) to aquaculture (a rapidly growing sector including land- and ocean-based operations). These connections make it clear that there is no magic dividing line between freshwater and oceans, where one rule book ends and another takes over.

What do we stand to gain from bringing these two worlds together under a single blue-economy umbrella? In no uncertain terms: a lot.

Because of Canada’s size and the number of sectors that intersect freshwater, coordination in this space has always been a challenge. Freshwater simultaneously fits into a range of sectors, from mining and energy to agriculture and municipal services, and lives nowhere, with no dedicated agency advocating for its interests (the current conversation around the creation of a Canada Water Agency is a promising one, which we’re following with interest).

By extension, freshwater infrastructure and innovation, including around drinking water, wastewater, stormwater and environmental protection, does not attract attention or investment at the same scale as the ocean economy.

How, then, can we leverage the strengths of Canada’s ocean community to advance the interests of “all waters”? We can start by learning from and building on the successes of institutions such as Canada’s Ocean Supercluster, a multi-sectoral organization created by the federal government to support ocean innovation, which has provided a hub to coordinate activity around ocean technologies and solutions. An equivalent entity for freshwater could play a significant role in accelerating investment and innovation around water challenges.

We can also draw inspiration from the ocean economy to generate new sustainable business models and investment for the freshwater sector. Hosted in 2018, the first global conference on the sustainable blue economy explored how to harness the potential of our oceans to improve the lives of all and leverage research and innovation to build prosperity. Building on this theme, Canada’s emerging Blue Economy Strategy (currently focused exclusively on oceans) aims to align economic growth in the ocean sector with job creation and climate action, as well as greater participation of Indigenous Peoples, women and under-represented groups in the ocean economy.

Building back better requires us to take a holistic view of water systems and understand the numerous and complex interconnections between freshwater and ocean sectors.

The prime minister’s Speech from the Throne in September 2020 recognized that “investing in the Blue Economy will help Canada prosper.” Reframing the blue economy as “economic activities that are based in and actively good for all water systems” will better position Canada to tackle the complex environmental challenges that water systems face and harness emerging economic opportunities at the interface of freshwater and ocean sectors.

Melissa Dick is a program manager with Aqua Forum, a non-profit organization whose flagship program is the AquaHacking Challenge.

Alan Shapiro is the director of waterNEXT, Canada’s emerging water-technology ecosystem, and principal at Shapiro & Company.

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Economy

Bank of Canada signals rate hike in 2022, tapers bond purchases

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By Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) -The Bank of Canada signaled on Wednesday that it could start hiking interest rates in late 2022, as it sharply boosted its outlook for the Canadian economy and reduced the scope of its bond buying program.

The central bank said it now expects economic slack to be absorbed in the second half of 2022, from a previous forecast of into 2023. It held its key overnight rate steady at 0.25%.

Governor Tiff Macklem, speaking to reporters after the decision, made clear that while the bank is committed to refrain from raising rates until the economy is running at full capacity, there is no guarantee borrowing costs will rise when those conditions are met.

“What we do when those conditions are met, we’ll have to assess that at the time. There’s nothing mechanical,” he said, adding: “We’re looking for a full recovery, we’re not going to count our chickens before they’re hatched.”

The Bank also said it now believes the COVID-19 pandemic will be “less detrimental” than previously assessed to the economy’s potential output.

Canada‘s annual inflation rate doubled to 2.2% in March, Statistics Canada said separately, in part due to a statistical effect caused by a sharp deceleration last year during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bank of Canada targets the midpoint of an control range of 1% to 3%. It expects inflation to temporarily rise to about 3% this year, before falling to around 2% in the second half. It will then fall further in early 2022 before recovering.

Canada‘s economy is expected to grow 6.5% in 2021, up from a forecast of 4.0% in January, the central bank said in its spring Monetary Policy Report, also released Wednesday.

It sees economic growth in the United States, which is Canada‘s largest trading partner, at 7.0% this year, up from 5.0%.

Much of the growth comes down to a massive U.S. stimulus plan passed in March and Canada‘s own stimulus package, unveiled Monday as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government‘s first budget in more than two years.

“Our projection at a macro level really captures the fiscal stimulus that has been announced both by provincial governments and to a large degree the federal government,” said Macklem.

BOND TAPERING

The Bank of Canada cut its weekly net purchases of Canadian government bonds to a target of C$3 billion ($2.4 billion) from C$4 billion, saying the adjustment reflected the progress made in the economic recovery.

“Certainly this is a more hawkish statement that begins to lay the foundations for the removal of the substantial monetary policy support that has been put in place over the past year,” said Josh Nye, senior economist at RBC Economics.

While recent job growth looks positive, the Bank warned it may take considerable time for full employment to be reached. Due to population growth, Canada needs to add 475,000 jobs to return to its pre-pandemic employment rate, it said.

The Canadian dollar strengthened as much as 1.2% to 1.2459 per greenback, or 80.26 U.S. cents, its biggest gain since last June, while Canada‘s 2-year yield jumped about 4 basis points to 0.334%.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon and David Ljunggren, additional reporting by Steve Scherer, Fergal Smith, Nia Williams, Jeff Lewis and Moira Warburton; Editing by Franklin Paul, Paul Simao and David Gregorio)

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U.S. dollar rebound after Canada tips toward higher rates

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By David Henry

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. dollar rebound against major currencies was interrupted on Wednesday after Canada‘s central bank signaled it could start an interest rate hike in 2022 and reduced the scope of its asset-buying program.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six major peers, turned down after the announcement from the Bank of Canada and was off by 0.1% in late afternoon (1946 GMT) in New York after having been up as much as 0.24% for the day. The greenback lost about 1% against the Canadian dollar.

Earlier the U.S. dollar had rebounded from a seven-week low hit overnight against major currencies as broad weakness in stock markets triggered by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in India and Japan encouraged a retreat to the safe-haven appeal of the greenback.

The safety bid had also supported the Swiss franc and the Japanese yen as the bright outlook for a global recovery dimmed.

But the catalyst for the move between the two North American dollars on Wednesday was a reminder that the outlook for changes in interest rates have been key to currencies as recoveries unfold. The greenback weakened through much of April as U.S. interest rates declined and as traders bet that vaccinations would open up a stronger global economic recovery and drive demand for riskier and higher-yielding currencies.

The greenback’s bounce had come with softer U.S. Treasury yields as investors reconsidered how long it might take before inflation forces the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy and as they saw prices for oil and stocks hit on Tuesday by the prospect of a slower global recovery because of more COVID-19 cases.

The Fed’s Open Market Committee meets next week and the European Central Bank decides policy on Thursday. Though neither is expected to signal a change in policy now, traders may hold back from big bets for a few days, said Joseph Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

“I think the market is just going to play it carefully in case the Fed changes its tune,” Manimbo said.

At the moment, he sees the market acting as though it is at “somewhat of a crossroads for the dollar given that it has struggled this month.”

Some analysts have said that a new inclination by the Bank of Canada to tighten monetary policy could prove to foreshadow changes by other central banks.

The Bank of Canada sharply raised its outlook for the economy and reduced the scope of its large-scale asset-buying program while keeping its key interest rate steady. It said the pandemic will be “less detrimental” to the economy than it had thought.

The central bank’s message brought back some of the appetite for risk, which carried over to other commodity-linked currencies, strategists at ANZ Research noted. The Australian and New Zealand dollars gained about 0.5%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 1.58% on the news from Canada and then hovered around 1.57%, not far from the 1.60% level at the start of the week, as the note consolidated gains after a reversal that had driven yields to a 14-month high at 1.7760% last month. The note held steady even after an auction of 20-year bonds showed strong demand.

The biggest casualty of the dollar’s rise in Wednesday trading was the euro, with the single currency weakening as much as 0.24%. It was last flat at $1.2032 after touching a seven-week high of $1.2079 overnight.

The Japanese yen, often seen as a safer refuge than the dollar, gained against the greenback to 107.86 but then drifted back to 108.08.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin traded around $55,500, consolidating after its dip to as low as $51,541.16 on Sunday. It set a record high at $64,895.22 on April 14.

 

Graphic: EURUSD and CESI – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/yzdpxbkwdpx/EURUSD%20and%20CESI.JPG

 

(Reporting by David Henry in New York and Saikat Chatterjee in London; Editing by Will Dunham, Hugh Lawson, Jonathan Oatis and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian Dollar Gain Biggest in 10 months as Bank of Canada cuts stimulus

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar surged by the most since June 2020 against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday and the Toronto stock market rebounded as investors welcomed a move by the Bank of Canada to dial back emergency support for the economy.

The loonie strengthened 0.9% to 1.2495 per U.S. dollar, or 80.03 U.S. cents. Canada‘s main stock index ended 0.5% higher at 19,143.25, clawing back some of its decline over the previous two days.

“I think we are seeing positive sentiment toward the Canadian economy coming off the comments from the Bank of Canada today,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management.

The Bank of Canada signaled that it could start hiking interest rates in late 2022, as it sharply boosted its outlook for the Canadian economy and cut the pace of bond purchases to C$3 billion per week from C$4 billion.

The central bank began a large-scale bond buying program last year to support the economy during the coronavirus crisis.

The reduction in stimulus puts Canada‘s central bank at odds with some other major central banks, such as the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, that have said they will maintain or even increase the pace of bond buying.

“It makes sense that Canada might be one of the ones to start scaling back first … our economic numbers have been quite positive,” Cieszynski said.

Canada‘s annual inflation rate doubled to 2.2% in March, Statistics Canada said, while the average of the Bank of Canada‘s three core measures was 1.9%, up from 1.8%.

The Canadian dollar, which touched its strongest intraday level since March 18 at 1.2455, was able to rally despite pressure on the price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports.

U.S. crude oil futures settled 2.1% lower at $61.35 a barrel amid concerns that surging COVID-19 cases in India will drive down fuel demand in the world’s third-biggest oil importer.

Still, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s energy sector advanced 0.9%, while the materials group was up 1.1%, bolstered by higher gold prices. Last Friday, the TSX notched a record high at 19,380.68.

Canadian government bond yields were higher across the curve. The 2-year rose 2.2 basis points to 0.317%, near the top if its range since the start of the year.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and David Gregorio)

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