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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

CANADA STOCKS – TSX ends flat at 19,228.03

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.00 percent to 19,228.03

* Leading the index were Corus Entertainment Inc <CJRb.TO​>, up 7.0%, Methanex Corp​, up 6.4%, and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc​, higher by 5.5%.

* Lagging shares were Denison Mines Corp​​, down 7.0%, Trillium Therapeutics Inc​, down 7.0%, and Nexgen Energy Ltd​, lower by 5.7%.

* On the TSX 93 issues rose and 128 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 26 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 183.7 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Nutrien Ltd and Organigram Holdings Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 1.61 points, or 1.4%, while the financials sector climbed 0.67 points, or 0.2%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 0.44%, or $0.26, to $59.34 a barrel. Brent crude  fell 0.24%, or $0.15, to $63.05 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.3% for the year.

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Canadian dollar outshines G10 peers, boosted by jobs surge

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian dollar advanced against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Friday as data showing the economy added far more jobs than expected in March offset lower oil prices, with the loonie also gaining for the week.

Canada added 303,100 jobs in March, triple analyst expectations, driven by the recovery across sectors hit by shutdowns in December and January to curb the new coronavirus.

“The Canadian economy keeps beating expectations,” said Michael Goshko, corporate risk manager at Western Union Business Solutions. “It seems like the economy is adapting to these closures and restrictions.”

Stronger-than-expected economic growth could pull forward the timing of the first interest rate hike by the Bank of Canada, Goshko said.

The central bank has signaled that its benchmark rate will stay at a record low of 0.25% until 2023. It is due to update its economic forecasts on April 21, when some analysts expect it to cut bond purchases.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2530 to the greenback, or 79.81 U.S. cents, the biggest gain among G10 currencies. For the week, it was also up 0.3%.

Still, speculators have cut their bullish bets on the Canadian dollar to the lowest since December, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed. As of April 6, net long positions had fallen to 2,690 contracts from 6,518 in the prior week.

The price of oil, one of Canada‘s major exports, was pressured by rising supplies from major producers. U.S. crude prices settled 0.5% lower at $59.32 a barrel, while the U.S. dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies, supported by higher U.S. Treasury yields.

Canadian government bond yields also climbed and the curve steepened, with the 10-year up 4.1 basis points at 1.502%.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Canadian dollar rebounds from one-week low ahead of jobs data

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Canadian dollar

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO (Reuters) -The Canadian dollar strengthened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday, recovering from a one-week low the day before, as the level of oil prices bolstered the medium-term outlook for the currency and ahead of domestic jobs data on Friday.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.4% higher at 1.2560 to the greenback, or 79.62 U.S. cents. On Wednesday, it touched its weakest intraday level since March 31 at 1.2634.

“We have seen partial retracement from the decline over the last couple of days,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

“With oil prices where they are – let’s call WCS still at roughly $49 a barrel – I still think CAD has room to strengthen over the medium term and even over a one-week horizon.”

Western Canadian Select (WCS), the heavy blend of oil that Canada produces, trades at a discount to the U.S. benchmark. U.S. crude futures settled 0.3% lower at $59.60 a barrel, but were up nearly 80% since last November.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high as Treasury yields fell following softer-than-anticipated labor market data, while the U.S. dollar fell to a two-week low against a basket of major currencies.

Canada‘s employment report for March, due on Friday, could offer clues on the Bank of Canada‘s policy outlook. The central bank has become more upbeat about prospects for economic growth, while some strategists expect it to cut bond purchases at its next interest rate announcement on April 21.

On a more cautious note for the economy, Ontario, Canada‘s most populous province, initiated a four-week stay-at-home order as it battles a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian government bond yields were lower across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year fell 3.3 basis points to 1.469%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith;Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)

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