Back and Better with the Bioeconomy

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The bioeconomy is uniquely positioned to lead the restart in BC and Canada.

The bioeconomy describes a transition away from fossil fuels for materials, energy, and chemicals. The forest is at the centre of a circular bioeconomy, providing sustainable products, chemicals, and energy that can be substituted for fossil fuels, store carbon, and reduce waste.

This is a great opportunity for BC and Canada, for the companies that have invested billions in manufacturing capacity and reforestation, and for the hundreds of communities across Canada that are home for people already working in the sector.

The Bioeconomy employs about 2 million people in Canada and is uniquely positioned to lead Canada’s re-start.

The time is now.
What needs to happen?

Watch the recorded session below.

Opening remarks:

Honourable Doug Donaldson
BC Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development

​Doug Donaldson was elected as MLA for Stikine in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 and 2017. He is the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Doug served as the Official Opposition spokesperson for Energy and Mines.

Prior to becoming an MLA, Doug worked for Storytellers’ Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on community economic development in the region including local food action initiatives. His previous work in Stikine included jobs in forestry, tourism, education, communications and journalism. He has worked as a biologist with a forestry consulting business, as a reporter and columnist with a weekly newspaper, communications director with the Gitxsan Treaty Office, coordinator of the cultural tourism program at Northwest Community College, and instructor with the Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en Education Society. He has also owned and operated businesses in the B.C. Rockies.

Doug’s many years in the northwest included living in Smithers and Telkwa before settling in Hazelton where he was a four-term municipal councillor. He has travelled extensively throughout the Stikine constituency which overlays the traditional territories of seven First Nations.

Doug is married and has two adult children. He enjoys skiing, hiking, running and tending to his chickens, turkeys, sheep and llamas. His formal education includes an undergraduate degree in biology and a master’s degree in journalism.


Warren Mabee
Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, Queen’s University

“Charting the Course to a Cohesive Canadian Bioeconomy Strategy”

Dr. Warren Mabee is Associate Dean and Director of the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University.  He holds a Canada Research Chair in Renewable Energy Development and Implementation, and is cross appointed to the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s.

His international research program focuses on the interface between policy and technology in the area of renewable energy and fuels. It addresses issues that bridge the gap between researchers and decision-makers, using tools such as life cycle assessment, geographic information systems and agent-based logistical models.

His past work experiences include stints at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


Brian Merwin
Vice-President Corporate Development, Mercer International

“Full Fibre Utilization – The Necessary Transition for BC Forest Management”

Brian Merwin is Vice President, Corporate Development and has served in this and similar roles since 2009. Prior to this and since joining Mercer in 2005 he served as Director, Strategic and Business Initiatives and Business Analyst.

Mr. Merwin holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Richard Ivey School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia. He has over 15 years of industry experience, including M&A, corporate development, strategy, capital projects, innovation, and business integration. He currently serves as a Director of Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company and as Chairman of Performance BioFilaments Inc.


Diane Nicholls
BC Chief Forester

“Forest-Based Solutions for Climate and The Economy”

Diane Nicholls has been the appointed ADM, Chief Forester for British Columbia since February, 2016. A Registered Professional Forester, she began her career as a forest technician from BCIT. She then continued her studies at the University of Alberta and completed at the University of British Columbia. Diane’s background working as a consultant and in the private sector and public sector has given her a great deal of experiential knowledge of the forest industry and the collaborative work that must go hand in hand with forest management. Always looking ahead, for new ideas and solutions, Diane’s vision for the forests of BC encompasses the needs and wants of the many people who live and work in this great province.



Sandy Ferguson
SF Consulting Inc. and Member of the Board – Canadian Bioeconomy Conference and Exhibition 

Sandy Ferguson heads up SF Consulting, an independent forest and bioeconomy advisory company. Throughout her career she has worked in senior business development and strategic roles with private, not-for-profit, and government organizations. She most recently served as VP Corporate Affairs at Conifex Timber Inc. a Canadian forest products and biomass power producer, and the Director of Marketing at the BC Bioenergy Network. She is a board member of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada and the Canadian Bioeconomy Conference.

The webinar is the first to be presented by the Canadian Bioeconomy Conference and Exhibition, originally scheduled for June 10-11, 2020 in Prince George. The conference, the largest and longest-running of its kind in Canada, has now been postponed to June 2021. The Society is instead presenting webinars to keep the bioeconomy front-and-centre and to foster dialogue between governments, communities, industry, First Nations, academia, and youth.

The Canadian Bioeconomy Conference and Exhibition wishes to thank its sponsors and the Government of British Columbia for joining the Society to present this webinar on June 25.