The NATO Council’s annual Spring Conference was held on April 8, 2010. This year’s topic was ‘Minimizing Conflict in the Race for Natural Resources: Securing Economic Stability in the 21st Century’, looking at different issues pertaining to energy security from geopolitical, economic and military standpoints. Conference attendees were offered an in-depth look at many different aspects of resource scarcity from an impressive list of speakers from a wide range of industries and professional backgrounds. The speakers provided thorough, informed and detailed discussions that sparked debate and dialogue on how energy security will impact both the public and private sectors and how NATO will define its role in dealing with the increasingly complex security issue.
The conference was divided into three sessions, following a welcome address and introduction from the Hon. Bill Graham, Chairman of The NATO Council of Canada. The first session identified global resource needs and security issues, with panelist Mohamed Yahya, manager of the United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Resource Management Preventive Action, presenting his view on the UN’s response to the challenges faced by resource-rich developing countries and its cooperation with other agencies such as the EU in dealing with resource-based conflict. Colonel Andrew Budd, Branch Chief of the Strategic Policy and Concepts Branch at the NATO Headquarters, offered a military perspective to the issue, focusing on the threat of future conflict and the security challenges arising from resource scarcity and climate change. He discussed the threats posed by those with rich resources, using oil and gas as weapons of influence or as economic levers in international politics, and the need to reform the out-dated international organizations of today.
The second session offered a closer look at energy for the next decade, looking at the impact of energy security on the private sector and from within the economic spectrum. The panelists were Dr. Maureen S. Crandall, Professor of Economics from the National Defence University, Washington D.C., Mr. Peter Gibson, Manager and Director of Portfolio Strategy and Quantitative Research at CIBC and Dr. James A. Boutilier, Special Advisor and Commander of the Maritime Forces Pacific. The third session, looking at the importance of minerals, included Mr. Harry Skinner, Senior Researcher of the G8/G20 Group at the University of Toronto, Mr. Ian London, Market Development and Energy Advisor of Avalon Rare Metals and Mr. Bernard R. Wilson, Lead Director of Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Limited.
The NATO Council had the privilege of welcoming Rear-Admiral Paul A. Maddison, Commander of the Maritime Forces Atlantic, who delivered a highly-informative keynote address on the new challenges faced by Canada’s Navy. The Spring Conference ended on a much more informal note, as attendees and participants mingled and continued discussions over cheese platters and wine at the conference reception. Everyone was also given the much-anticipated opportunity to meet and talk with the speakers, other NATO Council members and colleagues and Rear-Admiral Maddison. The reception, an always much looked forward to part of the event, brought together people from varying backgrounds and professions in The NATO Council’s aim of promoting awareness and dialogue amongst the Canadian public on global security issues. Overall, it was not only an educational and informative event, but also one that provided a valuable opportunity to discuss one of the world’s most pressing security concerns with highly-qualified and knowledgeable specialists and experts.