Why Saskatchewan is a Global Shaper

The Case for World Economic Forum Shaper Hubs in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan has arrived on the map of global trade and its position and performance in the global economy merit a serious look from the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Program. This community, started by the World Economic Forum in 2011, brings together young leaders for projects and dialogue on both a local and global level. There are currently almost 2900 Shapers in nearly 300 community “hubs” around the world.

In Canada, there are shapers in Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, but currently none in the Province of Saskatchewan. If places like Novosibirsk (Russia), Bamako (Bali), and Boulder (Colorado) are Global Shaper Hubs, it is clear the time has come to for the World Economic Forum to expand into the growing Saskatchewan.

Why Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan has consistently been near the top of economic growth in Canada for the last number of years. The province’s performance includes projected economic growth in its two major cities of Saskatoon and Regina of 5.2 and 5% percent respectively. [1]Saskatchewan’s population has also grown by over 10% in the last 6 years and its unemployment rate has been at the bottom of most lists for years. Finally, Saskatchewan dominates in Canada with exports.  In 2012, Saskatchewan’s exports totalled $32.6 billion, a number that exceeded all the exports of British Columbia in real terms and is a province with four times the population of Saskatchewan. [2]

Resource and Innovation Leadership

More importantly, Saskatchewan occupies a major leadership position in many global commodity markets. For example, Saskatchewan supplies one fifth of the world’s uranium, one third of the world’s potash (while holding around half of the world’s reserves) and is the second largest conventional oil producer in Canada. Saskatchewan is also the world’s largest exporter of mustard, flaxseed, lentils and dried peas, exporting over half of the world’s supply of canary seeds, lentils and peas. This wealth of commodity attracts an investment of over $50 billion in its extraction industries and, more recently, in its manufacturing industries.

Furthermore, billions of dollars have been spent on research in biotechnology at the University of Saskatchewan and at Innovation Place; one of Canada’s largest scientific research parks. The University of Saskatchewan also houses the Canadian Light Source, Canada’s biggest science project and only linear particle accelerator. Southern Saskatchewan also holds the Boundary Dam Project, a world first in commercially viable large-scale carbon capture and storage for coal.

The province is also home to a new Global Institute for Food Security and recently played host to a global United Nations World Food Program summit on food security given its global importance on the issue. Furthermore, over 30% of the Canadian agricultural biotechnology industry is located in the province where its biggest city of Saskatoon has the reputation of being the ‘Science Capital of Canada’. [3]

Engaged Citizens and Active Leaders

On top of Saskatchewan’s major role in global commodity markets and scientific innovation, Saskatchewan boasts one of the most active governments in Canada by promoting an international focus in building prosperity. The Saskatchewan Government has led major trade missions to countries totalling around over half of the world’s population, including China, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, India and Bangladesh. Saskatchewan has also been vocal in leadership with negotiations to reduce international trade barriers for Canada.

This leadership also extends to the New West Partnership (NWP) that has helped streamline domestic trade in western Canada – the NWP also runs a trade bureau in Shanghai for Canada’s three western provinces.

Saskatchewan’s global engagement is also helped by the fact that it is home to unique grassroots initiatives that promote international trade. Moreover, the province’s citizens are always active in spreading Saskatchewan’s message.  Organizations such as the one-of-a-kind Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) and the Hanlon Centre for International Business at the University of Saskatchewan help to build trade, export, and international business skills for local companies and students.

Over the years, STEP has conducted over 50 trade missions around the world. Saskatchewan is also home to major summits such as Agribition, which pulls in international delegations from around the globe to see world-leading agricultural technology and innovation.

Saskatchewan Now

The time is now for the World Economic Forum to expand its Global Shapers Program into Saskatchewan. Finding willing partners and engaged youth will prove to be an easy task, thanks to the scores of alumni initiatives like the Hanlon Centre or Global Vision’s Junior Team Canada International Trade Mission program. Trade and exports are the lifeblood of this province and Saskatchewan is full of youth who see it everyday; whether it is in the cities housing international offices or on the farms growing commodities to feed the world’s hungry. Saskatchewan gets the global economy and it’s time for the World Economic Forum to get Saskatchewan.

Let them know: @GlobalShapers