Building a prosperous future for the province means putting people first as the fundamental driver of wealth, says BC Tech president and CEO Jill Tipping
I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.
For Jill Tipping, that observation by late science fiction author Adams gets at the urgent need to shift our thinking about the B.C. economy and its future.
Tipping is president and CEO of the BC Tech Association, which recently published A New Economic Narrative for British Columbia. The report’s thesis: Our economy isn’t what we tell ourselves it is. We still cling to the 20th-century image of B.C. as mostly an exporter of natural resources. But in fact, over the past three decades, we’ve become a knowledge and service-driven economy.
“How I would describe the call to action in this report is that it’s no longer enough to describe that we’re experiencing economic growth,” Tipping says. “We actually need to understand the why so that we can understand if it’s sustainable or not.”
The report presents B.C. as a small, open economy at an inflection point in a rapidly changing world. If physical assets drove economic growth, resilience and competitiveness during the previous century, the service economy of the 21st century hinges on intangible assets such as data and intellectual property.
Just look at B.C., where services now account for 75 percent of gross domestic product, 80 percent of jobs and 50 percent of exports. “To plan for the future, we have to understand where we came from, but we’ve got to get our feet grounded in where we are today,” Tipping says. “I think the conversation continues to be dominated by things that were true 30 years ago but actually aren’t true today and definitely won’t be true tomorrow.”
A global reality check
Despite growing affluence in North America, COVID has been a reality check for the world, Tipping notes. So have the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the 2016 election of Donald Trump, which could signal the end of the expansionist, globalist era, she says.
“I think today, we’re sort of at a place of, oh, I don’t know, maybe there’s more tension in the world than I thought there was, and perhaps the climate crisis is more serious than I thought, and the transition off oil and gas is sooner than I thought,” Tipping says.
“Economic growth is a good thing, but economic growth that doesn’t drive increased shared prosperity is going to be a challenging thing,” she adds. “And economic growth that’s based on industries that might be grandfathering or not growing as fast as they once did isn’t as good as economic growth that’s driven by industries that are globally growing and going to be sustainable sources of economic growth for the next 30 to 50 years.”
On that note, Tipping sees opportunity for B.C., whose technology industry keeps spilling over into other sectors. “Adjacent industries are becoming tech industries, and every industry is becoming tech,” she says. “As a consequence of that, it’s going to be a growing share of jobs.”
The provincial government projects that from 2019 through 2029, professional, scientific and technical services will see 2.5-percent annual job growth. But based on recent member surveys, BC Tech expects that category to expand by 10 to 15 percent annually during the same period—generating 88,000 more jobs than the government forecast of 98,800.
That’s good news, but when it comes to measuring the economic impact of the tech sector, we’re still using 20th-century methods, the report maintains. For example, the current North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) doesn’t separate technology and digital businesses from professional, scientific and technical services. At the same, time there’s little provincial and federal data on B.C. services exports.
Talking to civil servants at both levels of government, Tipping has found them interested in gathering better data. “It’s a challenge to find the time and the money and the teams to invest in the new,” she says. “But I do think there’s a shared understanding of the challenge and the need to adjust to this question.”
Talent, talent and talent
To help shape the new economic narrative, BC Tech lays out three steps. “First and foremost is to really embrace data,” Tipping says. “Let’s understand today’s economy, because we don’t have enough information is what is driving 80 percent of our economy.”
With that in mind, Tipping would like to see the provincial government make use of her organization’s report as it develops a new economic plan due this fall. “We’re hoping to be influential as part of that on the kinds of questions that need to be asked and answered, and specifically with a focus on the data capture piece.”
But her bigger ambition is to change the conversation, “so that hopefully, three years from now, it isn’t the case that 80 percent of the jobs get 5 percent of the conversation,” she says. “That’s something that’s a longer-term play, but even the way the report has been received so far and the conversations we’ve had so far, I am pleasantly surprised by the interest that we’re getting within government as well as in wider society.”
Step 2: Face reality. “Let’s just understand that technology innovation isn’t a choice, it isn’t an option anymore. It’s a fact, and it’s been a fact for 20 years, and it’s what is driving prosperity and growth globally,” she says. “Sometimes I think in B.C., it’s seen as icing on the cake—or, If we have time for that, we will. It’s the cake, OK? It’s become the cake.”
And Step 3? “There are three priorities in this new economic narrative, and they are talent, talent and talent,” Tipping says. “We must stop seeing people as a cost or an afterthought. They’re the fundamental unit and driver of wealth, of prosperity, of growth. And if we invest in people, whether that’s through education or infrastructure or their ideas or their entrepreneurship or their innovation about new ways to create value for old industries, whether it’s in B.C. or elsewhere, it’s the easiest money you could possibly make.”
Having previously spent several years with energy multinational Schneider Electric as VP operations and CFO of its solar business, Tipping knows about making money the hard way. “It is a really tough business,” she says. “It’s constantly focused on taking costs out. You will win in the energy business if you have the lowest-cost, most consistently efficient supplier.”
The drivers of the talent economy are completely different, Tipping notes. “You will win in the talent economy if you enable creativity and innovation and fast business cycles, and constant nourishment and enrichment and bringing in new ideas and products.”
Working in that new economy is more enjoyable, too, she says. “It’s more fun to earn your living in something that’s sustainably profitable and constantly interested in new ideas.”
Building the people economy
The BC Tech report also highlights the changing nature of economic competitiveness, which sees taxes play a smaller role than intangible assets, innovation and investment in people.
“I would say we’ve moved from a time when capital was constrained to a time when talent is constrained,” Tipping says. In other words, human labour and talent have become the scarce resource. “If you optimize for that resource, you will be a winner and a success in today’s economy and the future.”
Given its strong education and health-care systems, and the fact that generally speaking, it’s a safe and welcoming society, B.C. should be far ahead in that department, Tipping reckons. “It’s a bit hokey to say it, but if we can get as good as mining what’s in people’s minds as we were at mining what’s in the ground, that’s the source of value for the future.”
For Tipping, it comes back to what she calls the infrastructure of the people economy—education and re-skilling, but also affordable housing and good public transit.
“It’s important to have a stable and predictable environment,” she says. “But maybe that’s not the most important thing anymore. The most important thing—and this is certainly what I believe—is to be a great place for human talent to thrive. And if you are optimized for that, then industry and post-secondaries and governments and all players in the economy will find themselves with the wind at their backs.”
8 business leaders championing a nature-positive economy – World Economic Forum
We know, now more than ever, that our fate as a species is deeply connected with the fate of our natural environment. Nature loss has tangible business and economic impacts. Over half the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services and is therefore at risk. We now also know that protecting and restoring natural ecosystems is crucial in combatting climate change.
The COVID-19 crisis provides an unprecedented opportunity to reset humanity’s relationship with nature. The decisions that we make in the near future will shape the world for decades to come, and these decisions must be discussed during upcoming milestone international summits – including the UN General Assembly, the UN Food Systems Summit, and the climate and biodiversity COPs.
A recent CEO briefing document released by the World Economic Forum, WBCSD, Business for Nature and We Mean Business outlines why businesses need to act on nature and the steps they need to take. Many businesses are showing us what is already possible and are proving that safeguarding nature will lead to a thriving economy and resilient jobs.
To provide inspiration for the important year ahead, 8 members of the Champions for Nature community shared why they are working towards a nature-positive, net-zero and socially equitable future.
To build resilience ‘to future economic and environmental shocks’
Claudia Azevedo, CEO, Sonae
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our current economy and many of our livelihoods. A nature-positive economy will challenge businesses to shift towards jobs that are more resilient to future economic and environmental shocks.
At Sonae, we are highly committed to a long-term vision and recognise the need of integrating natural capital in the equation, so our nature-positive journey began many years ago, embedding it in Sonae’s business strategy.
Given the magnitude of current challenges, we encourage all companies to raise their ambitions around nature and climate and to join this effort. Nature loss will significantly impact all business in all countries. We have to be quick and effective in our actions.
To benefit biodiversity and business
Marco Bizzarri, President and CEO, Gucci
The twin crises of nature loss and climate change are interconnected and great benefits for business and society can be achieved if they are tackled together. As businesses, we must all respond to these crises as a matter of urgency and play our part to transition to a net-zero, nature-positive economy.
At Gucci, we have integrated climate solutions across our sustainability strategy to promote biodiversity conservation while we focus on emissions reduction. We have been carbon neutral in our direct operations and across our supply chain since 2018. Under our ‘Natural Climate Solutions Portfolio’, we are investing in regenerative agriculture, and protecting and restoring important ecosystems that mitigate climate change, which will provide lasting biodiversity and climate benefits for years to come.
To ‘restore critical water sources and ensure quality water for human consumption’
Bertrand Camus, CEO, Suez
Water is one of the key resources linking us to natural systems. One in four cities – representing over $4 trillion in economic activity – are already water stressed.
SUEZ is demonstrating how innovation and nature-based solutions can be used to restore critical water sources and ensure quality water for human consumption. A nature-positive economy is the only way to protect our water supplies and allow natural processes to continue to sustain life on earth as we know it.
At SUEZ, we aim to step up our role in protecting the environment and restoring our natural assets by taking action for the protection and rehabilitation of terrestrial, aquatic and marine biodiversity. To do this, the Group is accelerating its development of “100% sustainable” solutions characterised by their positive impact on the environment be it on air, water or soil.
To ‘improve farmer livelihoods and ensure a sustainable food system’
Liam Condon, President, Bayer Crop Science Division
At Bayer, we work with farmers every day to make agriculture a part of the solution to climate change and help lead us towards a nature-positive economy.
A great example is our Bayer Carbon Initiative. We promote climate-smart farming practices through a combination of product innovations, digital solutions and new outcome-based models that reward farmers who contribute to carbon sequestration. As more farmers embrace this novel approach, they realize the benefit through improved soil health for better harvests while contributing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, we are committed to be carbon-neutral in our own operations by 2030 through use of renewable energy sources, efficiency measures and acquiring high-quality carbon credits for remaining emissions.
Since the agriculture landscape is highly diverse across the globe, we tailor-fit our innovations and efforts based on these varying dynamics with the end goal to improve farmer livelihoods and ensure a sustainable food system that can nourish the world.
To ‘protect the earth for future generations’
Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO, Nespresso US, Nestlé USA Inc.
Now is the time for urgency. We’re entering the decisive decade – it’s not just necessary to take actions to protect the earth for future generations, but also for the future of humanity.
I believe the private sector can be a powerful catalyst for change. Companies like Nespresso are in a privileged spot – we can accelerate transformative actions throughout our value chains, such as regenerative agriculture, eco-design, recycling and building a low-carbon nature-positive and inclusive economy. I have seen first-hand how coffee can be a force for good. Our ambition is to build on a 20-year legacy and accelerate our efforts. The clock is ticking.
To ‘tackle the climate crisis’ and add ‘business value of over $10 trillion’
Roberto Marques, Group CEO, Natura
The interconnections between nature and humanity must not be underestimated. The natural world is on the verge of its tipping point, and we must act now.
The business community has a huge role to play. Transitioning to a nature-positive economy by 2030 could provide both an effective way to tackle the climate crisis and an annual business value of over $10 trillion. As businesses, we must begin to think longer term and consider investments in nature which will pay off in the future.
Natura &Co has been operating in the Amazon for over 20 years, respecting the forest. We will continue our endeavour to work with our partners, overcoming competition in favour of collaboration, to help build an agreement for nature, designed to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.
To provide ‘for livelihoods and development’ and restore ‘nature and landscapes’
Anderson Tanoto, Managing Director, RGE
Nature is the biggest ally in the fight against climate change. Natural climate solutions aim to utilise the power of nature to lessen climate change impacts, while halting the destruction of ecosystems.
At RGE, we embrace the production-protection model, where working forests ring-fence and buffer natural forests against encroachment and other illegal activities. This is a practical approach that not only provides for livelihoods and development but also restores nature and landscapes – allowing biodiversity and people to thrive for the long term.
To ‘protect nature while feeding the world’
Svein Tore Holsether, CEO, Yara
At Yara, we feel it is our responsibility to work with farmers to protect nature while feeding the world. The agricultural sector employs 65% of the world’s working poor and, in the Global South, forests are the source of livelihoods for over 1.6 billion people.
For us, the solution is quite literally in the soil. Done right, we can turn farmland back into nature and create natural carbon sinks. We need businesses to come together and take a stand, respecting the planetary boundaries.
For too long we have tried to control nature. Now we need to control ourselves.
Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.
To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.
This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.
Contact us to get involved.
Why populist policies won't fix Canada's economy – Financial Post
Canadian dollar notches biggest gain in a month as stocks rally
The Canadian dollar strengthened to a one-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as investor sentiment picked up and domestic data showed that retail sales fell less than expected in July.
World stock markets rallied and the safe-haven U.S. dollar retreated from one-month highs as worries about contagion from property developer China Evergrande eased and investors digested the Federal Reserve’s plans for reining in the stimulus.
Canada is a major exporter of commodities, including oil, so the loonie tends to be particularly sensitive to investor appetite for risk.
“The assumption here is that (Fed interest) rate hikes are still a long way out and so equities markets can still perform with accommodative financial conditions,” said Mazen Issa, senior FX strategist at TD Securities in New York.
“Consequently, currencies that have a higher beta to the equity market, like the CAD, can do alright.”
U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.5% higher at $73.30 a barrel, while the Canadian dollar was trading up 0.9% at 1.2653 to the greenback, or 79.03 U.S. cents.
It was the currency’s biggest advance since Aug. 23. It touched its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2628.
Canadian retail sales dipped 0.6% in July, compared with expectations for a decline of 1.2%, while a preliminary estimate showed sales rebounding 2.1% in August.
Canadian government bond yields were higher across a steeper curve, tracking the move in U.S. Treasuries.
The 10-year touched its highest level since July 14 at 1.335% before dipping to 1.330%, up 11.6 basis points on the day.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Peter Cooney)
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