Fostering the Green Economy in Canada

Ashley Tkachyk | March-22-12

Fostering the Green Economy

Profile with EP applicant Meredith Severin

A Masters candidate in Environment and Management at Royal Roads University, Meredith Severin, enjoys the dynamic and fast-paced nature of policy work. She feels it is this path that has led her nicely into private sector green energy development, where she is moving projects ahead through market development, communications, and feasibility research.

EP applicant Meredith SeverinSince obtaining an honours degree in Environmental Studies from Carleton University/University of Victoria, Meredith had the opportunity to work in the NGO/ENGO sector on a range of environmental and sustainability-related issues, as well as with municipal and provincial government. More recently, she worked with the Foreign Commonwealth Office at the British Consulate-General in Vancouver where she focused on climate change and energy policy for western Canada.

An applicant for Environmental Professional (EP) certification, Meredith says she enjoys moving the goal posts, whether towards new objectives, projects, or developing new specialities. In this month’s EP Profile, Meredith shares her outlook for the Green Economy in Canada.


1. What do you enjoy about your research?  

I have been able to engage knowledgeable people from across sectors on the green economy and have enjoyed discerning the various angles and techniques used to dissect a complex topic. Discussions always have to take into consideration organisational mandates and this is a helpful reminder of the subjectivity and contextual dependence that is often at play. I find this fascinating.


2. What is the most interesting thing that has happened in your career in the environmental sector?   

Although I haven’t worked directly with carbon markets, much of the policy work I’ve taken part in has dealt with emerging carbon markets in the EU and North America. This represents a paradigm shift – the beginning of a completely different way of making sense of markets, of costs and consumer choices. It has not been, and will not be an easy shift (changes of this scale never are), but it has been exciting to develop my career alongside a fundamental change like this one.


3. Why are you getting certified and what value do you feel the EP designation will add to your career?  

The EP certification provides recognition of industry experience and areas of expertise. Well-recognised certifications provide an industry standard and [EP certification] is very helpful in creating a standard of excellence in a sector with such wide variations throughout.


4. Why is the environment sector important to you?  

It’s what I find interesting – the interface between humans and our natural world. It is where we live, it gives us the resources we need to live and it is in peril. It can’t get more important than that.


5. What is your vision for the growth and development of the Green Economy?  

Well, utopian visions aside, my research has me currently digging through dozens of studies and reports to inform myself as to what this might actually look like. It would seem that Canada has to make bold investments in the development of the green economy; we can’t hedge our bets. One look at China, the economic powerhouse, and we can see that investment in green technology and alternative energy is an area of massive opportunity and one that we should not ignore.  


6. What challenges do you see for the Green Economy in Canada?    

This is a big question. While there are strengths in a variety of approaches to fostering a green economy across provinces and municipalities, there are inherent weaknesses too. There are programs and policies, legislation and regulation that are creating a patchwork across Canada, North America, and the world. The lack of regulatory certainty is not conducive to growing business or to making sound ‘over-the-horizon’ decisions. Greater coordination and cooperation might help lend certainty to initiatives like the WCI or Ontario’s FITs for green energy developments. We’re all moving in the same direction but sometimes it feels like a bit of a three-legged-race.  


7. Can you tell us about your role as a mentor in the ECO Canada Mentorship Program

Mentoring has provided a really worthwhile experience in terms of building an awareness of how to better support an aspiring environmental professional without any attachment to a particular project or deliverable, which is refreshing. I have also come to appreciate some of my own professional cornerstones, important lessons learned, and my own solid network of colleagues, partners and professional contacts that I can call on for feedback or mentoring of my own!


8. Looking back, what would you say has been the most important lesson that you have learned and would pass onto aspiring professionals?   

A student once asked the eminent psychologist Carl Jung the shortest path to her life's goal. Without hesitation Jung replied, "The detour."

Of course an overall plan is important but sometimes grandiose plans may blot out opportunities that appear as shortcuts or detours. Sometimes apparent distractions need to be considered for their ability to help us refocus.