Reflections from COP26:
Sharing Ideas with European Partners and Canada’s PM

November 2, 2021

Foresight CEO Jeanette Jackson is taking part in 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). She is sharing her observations about ideas being shared, opportunities for action, and meetings with VIPs.


Just 12 hours after landing, I rushed to The Hague to meet with the Energy Policy lead for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs about programs and initiatives that are accelerating Holland’s path to net zero. It was no surprise that collaboration rose to the top in our discussions and that the new Horizon Europe program is a key priority for many EU nations.

However, there was much more unpacked in just 75 minutes:

  1. The Horizon Programs put clusters front and centre. Clusters are defined as when interconnected businesses cooperate and compete to accelerate major institutional, industrial, and technological change. Foresight has been working very hard on our regional and sectoral clusters. But we need more buy-in at all levels of government to realize the results. It was also nice to validate the proposed distributed cluster model which is becoming a reality in Holland as well - in particular given the broader scope of collaboration required by the EU programming.
  2. We can learn a lot from Holland on everything related to agriculture. In fact, with our agriNEXT program, so many fundamentals are in place to build on (I will share more on that in my next update dedicated strictly to agriculture, agrifood, food security and water security.)  But Canada also has a lot to share with Holland and other EU nations.    During our meeting we discussed carbon capture, utilization and storage, bioeconomy, water innovation, and the built environment as areas for further discussion - all sectors we are pushing forward with our NEXT streams.  
  3. To build on these discussions, we need support. While government programs are a good starting point, we need to dig deeper with the actual stakeholders guiding the efforts through gap analysis and integrated partnerships. For example, we have the opportunity to coordinate strategic bilateral trade missions that create transactional opportunities for Canadian ventures to both commercial and government procurement contacts, and vice versa.  Let’s get some of the breakthrough technologies from Europe to Canada and Canada to Europe with facilitated, structured, deeply integrated programs with milestones and outcomes clearly tracked.

It is time to move on from talking about it to taking action and supporting those organizations on the ground to make it happen.

The next stop in my morning was equally exciting. It was an honour to attend a session with our very own Prime Minister at the Global Center on Adaptation. Business leaders from across the region (and me!) had the opportunity to share one key recommendation for the Prime Minister to take to COP26 and the topic was youth and climate.  

My recommendation, based on years of support for the Canadian cleantech ecosystem, is funding for progressive, multilateral training programs for youth and students (Grade 10 onwards) on all things climate by country and by sector. We need to open our minds to global knowledge transfer and sharing of best practices so that we have the talent and networks to scale our cleantech ventures, staff the industrial transition, and funnel back learnings to evolve our education systems. 

A few other takeaways from others in the meeting included:

  • Acknowledgement that cities make the difference on the ground (Foresight’s Cleantech Forward platform is working on this)
  • Global price on carbon is important with countries like Canada setting the stage for better long term predictability for businesses and investors with our carbon tax policy
  • Youth are looking for long-term commitment for a safe, habitable planet
  • Canada’s wetlands can plan a key role in our carbon storage capacity and planning 

The work being done by Dr. Patrick Verkooijen and his team at the Global Center on Adaptation is truly breakthrough thought leadership when it comes to the connection between climate mitigation and adaptation. Many of the changes we are going to see in the coming years are already too late to change. This reality is sobering and gives me more energy and ambition than ever to learn at COP26 and bring home anything relevant possible to Canada.

Thank you to the International Cleantech Network for supporting my mission to COP26. Read the ICN Factsheet.