In September 2019, BMO supported an event hosted by Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. This half-day bi-national symposium focused on the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the report’s implications for the Great Lakes region.
The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource fundamental to the quality of life of millions of North Americans. They hold more than 20% of the world’s freshwater, provide drinking water for more than 40 million people, and are a key economic driver of many industries, including agriculture, natural resources and tourism. The region is also home to thousands of species that are facing pressures such as pollution, invasive species, climate change and habitat loss. Concerted efforts are needed to ensure that the Great Lakes are healthy and diverse – and remain that way for future generations.
The event featured a keynote briefing on the IPBES report by Professor Eduardo Brondizio, one of its three co-chairs, and several expert panels with speakers from governments, the scientific community, international bodies and NGOs. The day closed with a discussion with members of the United States and Canadian diplomatic communities about water diplomacy – and how international cooperation supports ongoing improvements and protection of the Great Lakes.
The symposium’s concluding remarks were delivered by Simon Fish, BMO’s General Counsel and a board member of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, who highlighted BMO’s deep commitment to sustainability. “Nature across most of the globe has been significantly altered by humans – it rests with us to take responsibility and respond,” said Simon, emphasizing that as a financial institution, we can play a role in slowing the rate of biodiversity loss and restoring at-risk ecosystems.
BMO seeks to minimize our negative environmental impact by integrating environmental considerations into how we do business, both at the bank and with our clients. We are also proactively pursuing sustainable outcomes with our clients through new products, services and financial solutions – underpinned by our recent $400 billion commitment to sustainable finance.
Photo credit: Joe Segal, Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario