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​Most of the 400 participants at Metro Vancouver’s 2011 Sustainability Congress say the regional district should develop a local response to global challenges such as food, security, energy and climate change.“Metro Vancouver has woven the principles of sustainability into everything it does – from the delivery of our core water and waste utilities to regional planning and air quality management and in our role as an advocate,” said Lois E. Jackson, the Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors. “Where we have the ability to act, we will. But it is clear that sustainability requires action beyond Metro Vancouver’s mandate, authority and scope. “To be truly sustainable we must lift our gaze to the horizon and beyond. We must consider the here and now, but also the yet to be. “It speaks volumes about the commitment the people of Metro Vancouver have to ensuring the future we want for ourselves, our children, our communities and our globe that so many people volunteered their time on a summer Saturday morning to help us plot the way forward,” Chair Jackson said. “Active involvement at the Congress of the business community, academics, NGO’s, governments and citizens – including youth – is just the kind of collaboration we need,” she said. At the Congress, residents used hand-held voting machines to indicate their priorities for action and whether they wanted local, national or international agencies and institutions to lead the charge. “Clearly, the degree to which participants believe that Metro Vancouver is expected to take the lead in addressing these major regional issues came as a bit of a surprise,” said Congress Moderator and Metro Vancouver Chief Administrative Officer Johnny Carline. “Other than on the topic of security, where other local agencies and the Province of B C were identified as the preferred lead, all the voting placed primary responsibility on Metro Vancouver,” Mr. Carline said. “My take on that is not that people were saying Metro Vancouver should necessarily have more authority in these areas. Rather, they recognized that we need more collaborative action in these areas and people have come to see Metro Vancouver as the most capable and appropriate agency to bring about that collaborative process.”The Congress opened with a panel discussion featuring Bing Thom, David Berge, Stephen Owen, Robin Silvester and Tung Chan, moderated by Vaughn Palmer, that focused on key challenges to sustainability. The discussion considered the potential impact of five global uncertainties – food, energy, climate change, dematerialization and security – that are profoundly shaping our lives, the region and the globe.Following the panel discussion, Congress participants were asked to explore those uncertainties in a series of break out sessions and to provide direction on two core questions: where must we focus time and resources in order to arrive at the future we want, and who should lead the charge? Attendees then participated in a series of votes to identify strategic directions that most effectively respond to the issues. Detailed information on the issues, the propositions considered by the Congress, and results of the voting are available at www.metrovancouver.org. In sum, participants agreed the uncertainties that formed the basis for discussions are priorities and that local action has a significant role in addressing them. The panel discussion was live streamed (video will be available on the Metro website) and will be broadcast on Shaw TV soon. Metro Vancouver’s Future of the Region Sustainability Congress 2011 is the second of what the region intends to be a series of triennial forums. They build on Metro Vancouver’s ongoing dialogue with the community that is a key component of the Sustainable Region Initiative.