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B.C. launches trade mission to Europe to promote environmental, social governance standards

Visit will span 10 days and engage partners in five countries, officials say
Ravi Kahlon, B.C.'s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

B.C.’s minister responsible for jobs and economic recovery will begin on Sunday a trade mission to Europe spanning 10 days and five countries, the province said.

Ravi Kahlon is set to visit the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and Finland during the trip, with the focus being placed directly on promoting B.C.’s environmental and social governance (ESG) standards.

According to the province, Kahlon’s team will discuss with European partners potential link-ups in areas like agri-tech, mass timber, clean-energy solutions and “new technologies to improve supply chains.”

Kahlon, who recently visited the United States on a similar mission, said in a statement that the European visit is an extension of the same idea.

“As we begin to take the next steps to emerge from the challenges of the past two years, we are entering into a new world with a fast-changing global economy,” he said in a release. “... That’s why I’m building off my recent U.S. trip... to meet with emerging companies and industry leaders who are attracted to B.C.’s position as a climate leader with strong ESG credentials.”

B.C. announced a new ESG Centre of Excellence through its StrongerBC Economic Plan, aimed to support the development and promotion of B.C. goods and services under the provincial ESG brand. The province is now pushing for more awareness of these efforts abroad.

Lori Mathison, president and CEO, Chartered Professional Accountants British Columbia, said in the release that is crucial for B.C. organizations and businesses to integrate ESG into “holistic business strategies” in engaging the international market.

“As businesses strive to meet these ESG standards, our economy will be even more sustainable and resilient, and the ESG Centre of Excellence will help create a cohesive provincial strategy for international markets,” she said.

Canadian jurisdictions have increasingly shifted global trade mission activities to markets like the European Union, where the focus prior to the pandemic were squarely on Asia (specifically China). However, business officials have said the ongoing COVID quarantine requirements for visitors to China – which critics say can last up to close to a month upon arrival in a Chinese port – have made in-person visits challenging.