14 September 2014

The Switch Alliance Comes to Sherbrooke – Estrie Region Demonstrates its Leadership in the Green Economy

SWITCH Sherbrooke Innopole

PRESS RELEASESWITCH—the alliance for a green economy in Québec, bringing together organizations from economic, financial, association, and environmental fields—came to Sherbrooke this morning to meet major decision makers and stakeholders in the Estrie region’s green economy. Several entrepreneurs, researchers, and institutional representatives discussed regional initiatives and shared knowledge on their achievements—shining a light on the Estrie region’s leadership in this regard.

SWITCH’S representatives, Karel Mayrand, Director General for Québec of the David Suzuki Foundation, and Denis Leclerc, President and CEO of Écotech Québec, presented the alliance’s goals, namely the emergence of a clear social, political, and economic vision and leadership; the development of greater coherence in the state’s policies and actions; and cooperation among initiatives in the public, private, association, cooperative, mutual, and civil society sectors in favour of a green economy.

SWITCH Sherbrooke InnopoleKarel Mayrand, Director General for Québec with the David Suzuki Foundation, Chloé Legris, Director – Business Development of the Cleantech key sector at Sherbrooke Innopole, et Denis Leclerc, President and Chief Executive Officer of Écotech Québec

“We believe that it is vital to meet decision makers in the field to understand their reality and identify successes, achievements, and challenges, to better fuel our work and recommendations for the shift to a green economy in Québec,” said Karel Mayrand.

“This type of meeting also helps us see how businesspeople and environmentalists work together and what levers they rely on to adopt a vision that reconciles environmental priorities and economic growth,” added Denis Leclerc.

The meeting was initiated by SWITCH and organized by Sherbrooke Innopole, and included the Université de Sherbrooke, the Ville de Sherbrooke, the Conférence régionale des élus de l’Estrie (regional conference of elected officials), Hydro-Sherbrooke, Défi Innovation Estrie, the Cégep de Sherbrooke, the Chambre de commerce de Sherbrooke, Concertaction Estrie, and the Bio-industries environnementales de l’Estrie (Estrie region environmental bio-industries) ACCORD cluster. Several Sherbrooke businesses were also in attendance including Sherbrooke OEM, BionX, E2Metrix, and Ecotierra. The goal of the meeting was to create a portrait of the green economy in Estrie and to shine light on success stories, discuss obstacles, and identify the projects on which businesspeople and environmentalists can work together.

Over the course of the discussions, stakeholders highlighted local expertise in the field of clean technology and sustainable development. Unique initiatives were described, such as the Valoris project in Bury, the Cégep de Sherbrooke’s carbon neutral accreditation—a first on the international stage—Bishop’s University’s Carbon Care Certification, and steps taken by the Université de Sherbrooke to foster sustainable development—rewarded with 1st place in Canada and 6th in the world.

Chloé Legris, Director – Business Development – Cleantech at Sherbrooke Innopole, highlighted leadership in the Eastern Townships in terms of the green economy, with numerous businesses, institutions, and innovative initiatives in various sectors such as solar energy; energy efficiency; bio-industries; recovery of waste materials; water, air, and oil treatment; and the carbon market.

“In Sherbrooke especially, the clean technologies sector is constantly growing: today it boasts 3062 jobs in roughly 100 businesses, from trailblazers to small start-ups. Institutional research is also bustling, with more than 30 dedicated research centres and groups, generating an increasingly developed potential for technology transfers. At the same time, investors and support organizations, including Sherbrooke Innopole, help emerging and developing projects. Together, all these stakeholders help create a favourable ecosystem for Sherbrooke to be at the forefront of the global green economy,” said Chloé Legris.

For its part, the Université de Sherbrooke emphasized its distinct approach and its teaching and research activities in the fields of environmental studies and clean technologies. Initiator of a unique regional sustainable development forum, the Université de Sherbrooke is also an active participant in the Bio-industries environnementales de l’Estrie (Estrie region environmental bio-industries) ACCORD cluster for excellence. For the Vice Rector of Sustainable Development, Alain Webster, “the green economy constitutes a clear response to environmental concerns and a prospect for Québec’s strategic development, allowing it to stand out on the international stage. The Université de Sherbrooke has clearly chosen to play a significant role in this sector by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

The SWITCH concept exemplifies the green economy in relation to the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) definition: an economy “that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” The markets associated with a green economy may grow from USD 740 billion in 2009 to USD 1.5 or USD 2.7 trillion in 2020, representing 2.1% of global GDP1.

The SWITCH alliance, which is currently carrying out similar meetings in several regions of Québec, brings together organizations from economic, financial, association, and environmental fields (the Aluminum Association of Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, Cycle Capital Management, Équiterre, Écotech Québec, Association of Consulting Engineers of Quebec) and a network of partners (Enerkem, Desjardins, Innergex Renewable Energy, CSN, Gaz Métro, Regroupement national des conseils régionaux de l’environnement, WWF-Canada).


1 HSBC (2010). “Sizing the climate economy: We forecast the low-carbon energy market will triple to USD2.2trn by  2020”, HSBC Climate Change Global research, September 2010

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