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Upwards of 80 delegates from Asia, Europe and North America urban regions of similar size and a common interest in sustainability will share their expertise and experience in energy, waste and water planning this Sept. 20, 21 and 22. "Building Future Cities Today", is the theme of the 2011 International Regions Benchmarking Consortium Conference. During keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops and one-to-one conversations, elected officials and others will describe how their urban regions are responding to challenges as complex and demanding as climate change, water scarcity and solid waste management. "Metro Vancouver's journey towards a sustainable future, launched a decade ago as the Sustainable Region Initiative, continues to teach us many lessons," said Lois E. Jackson, chair of the regional district's Board of Directors. "And perhaps the biggest lesson of all is that, while we have much to share, we have just as much to learn." That world-class expertise will be accessible to the public through the Internet. After the Metro Vancouver-hosted conference concludes, video clips of the plenary and workshop sessions will be available on the regional district's website, www.metrovancouver.org. Delegates will hear presentations from three keynote speakers: Dr. Toshiyasu Noda, Regional Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, UNHABITAT (United Nations Human Settlements Programme) Gil Peñalosa, a liveable city advisor and social marketing strategist who is Executive Director of a non-profit group, 8-80 Cities.Bing Thom, Principal & Creative Director of Vancouver-based firm Bing Thom ArchitectsThe conference begins at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, with welcoming remarks and a mayor's panel. Mayors from member regions will reflect on the political challenges and opportunities that are shaping the sustainable development of their metropolitan regions. At 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday, delegates will tour the Lonsdale Energy Corporation, to learn about the City of North Vancouver's district heating system. At 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, delegates will tour Metro Vancouver's recently-opened Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant, the world's largest ultraviolet water treatment facility, before a panel discussion on the theme of water planning. At 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, delegates will tour the Annacis Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, the region's largest wastewater treatment facility, in Delta. The third and last day of the conference begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, in Metro Vancouver's head office, at 4330 Kingsway in Burnaby, and features a series of concurrent workshops on best practices and case studies related to waste, water and energy planning. The final conference plenary will discuss how to stay competitive and sustainable in a global economy.