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U.S.-Canadian environmental conference attracts global attention

by jmaloni


Tue, Sep 17th 2013 07:00 am

Event takes place in Buffalo Oct. 3-5

People from around the world will convene in Buffalo next month for what was expected to be a modest binational environmental conference for local governments in Western New York and Southern Ontario. Organizers were shocked, however, when inquiries began pouring in from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

"The global attention we've received was completely unexpected, although certainly well deserved," said Thomas R. Hersey Jr., conference organizer and deputy commissioner of the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning. "The quality of environmental management programs advanced by governments, nonprofits, and private enterprise across New York and Ontario is exceptional, and we're honored that the world is turning to us for insight and guidance."

For nearly a year, Hersey and others from the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning and the Niagara Region Integrated Community Planning Department have been planning the 2013 "Conference on the Environment: A Bi-National Sustainability Summit." The conference, which takes place Oct. 3-5 at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Buffalo, is designed to appeal to a diverse audience of environmental professionals, officials, and members of the public, and will feature more than 30 presentations by leading environmental experts from the U.S. and Canada.

"We all face the same challenges when it comes to natural resource protection, and so it only makes sense that we reach beyond the political boundaries that divide our two nations to share best practices and chart a united way forward," said Patrick J. Robson, conference organizer and commissioner of the Niagara Region Integrated Community Planning Department. "The fact that people from Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and elsewhere will be joining the conversation only reinforces the importance of this 'beyond the borders' approach to community planning and environmental management."

The conference kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, with a major opening event featuring Gord Downie, lead singer for The Tragically Hip and a well-known advocate for water resource protection in Canada. Tickets are available to the public for $25 and can be purchased online at http://coe2013.org.

Proceeds from public ticket sales will benefit the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. This event is made possible through the contributions of Ecology and Environment Inc., The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, National Grid and Wendel.

Conference sessions will take place all day on Friday, Oct. 4, and will be organized into three distinct tracks: Land use and planning; climate change and sustainable communities; and great lakes and water resource management. The conference closes on Saturday, Oct. 5, with a dynamic field tour that includes stops at Love Canal, the site of one of the most infamous environmental disasters in American history, and the Niagara Power Project, among the largest hydroelectric power generating facilities in North America.

Registration for the conference is $95 and includes all conference sessions, events and select meals. Exhibit space is available for $300. For full details, visit: http://coe2013.org.

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