BC Natural Resources Forum: Reflecting on Insights and Key Takeaways

This month, our DIGITAL team had the privilege of participating in the BC Natural Resources Forum held in the vibrant city of Prince George, B.C. This marked our second consecutive year at this pivotal event where we connected with leaders from across industry, governments and First Nations. Throughout the week, we were immersed in conversations shedding light on opportunities, solutions, and triumphs within British Columbia’s natural resources sector and its critical contributions to our collective economic prosperity.

Here are our 5 key takeaways from the 2024 Natural Resources Forum:

  • Collaboration and Partnerships:

Starting with the Premier’s speech on Tuesday evening and continuing through to the closing panel on Indigenous Economic Development, the resounding theme throughout the conference emphasized the critical importance of collaboration and partnerships rooted in trust. This theme was fittingly captured by Chief Dolleen Logan of the Lheidli T’enneh when she said “LTN’s (Lheidli T’enneh Nation) road to reconciliation is paved with partnership.”

Recognizing that meaningful change requires a creative approach, the forum unveiled positive opportunities to build unique relationships. The collaborative spirit embodied by DIGITAL’s unique model positions us as a facilitator for change. Alongside our Member partners, we are making a significant impact in addressing the complex puzzle of pursuing clean energy, tackling broader societal challenges, advancing digital skills across communities, including in Indigenous nations, and pioneering digital solutions for the natural resources sector in B.C.

  • Clean Energy Nexus:

A fundamental component to the sectors’ sustainability was top of mind — clean energy and electrification is intrinsically tied to the vitality of our natural resources sector. Acknowledging this symbiotic relationship emphasized the need to prioritize innovations that support industry transition and propel the integration of green energy solutions. The Premier’s announcement of BC Hydro’s $36 billion infrastructure plan to expand the province’s electrical system to power economic growth was welcomed news for many across the province and throughout the resources sector.

  • The Path to Prosperity:

The conference made it unequivocal, the road to the collective prosperity for everyone living in British Columbia traverses through the natural resources sector. These sectors remain critical to providing jobs for families across the province and supporting the province’s priority to address affordability, and offer solutions to other challenges including housing and the transition to a lower carbon future. DIGITAL is proud of the collaborations we have advanced to support a more sustainable and productive resources sector, including those in forestry, mining and agriculture.  

  • Indigenous Partnerships and Sustainable Futures:

Building meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities and advancing equity partnerships, own-sourced revenue, and economic reconciliation were continuous threads throughout the conference, highlighted by several speakers from Indigenous Nations across the province, including Chief Councillor Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation, Chief Trevor Makadahay of the Doig River First Nation, and Dallas Smith, President of the Nanwakolas Council. This collaborative approach extends to forestry consultation and revenue sharing with First Nations, emphasizing the crucial role of Indigenous communities in achieving a net-zero economy, supporting capacity building and skills development, and steering towards a sustainable future.

  • Digital Innovation:

For DIGITAL, the opportunity to prioritize digital innovations becomes more critical than ever. We anticipate that the ongoing conversation stemming from this important forum will underscore the deserved emphasis on the instrumental role of digital technology and innovative solutions, including those developed and piloted right here in British Columbia.

We were inspired to hear from industry leaders at the conference on how they are prioritizing innovation to scale their companies and deliver more B.C. products to global markets. During the panel discussion focused on B.C. exports, David Trent, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain and Digital at Canfor discussed the company’s investments in technology, and specifically the Forest Machine Connectivity collaboration with DIGITAL:

“And certainly, we are investing in technology. One investment that we have made here in B.C. with technology that was customized from an idea in Europe is to instrument all the harvesting equipment that our contractors use. It helps those businesses grow, thrive and be productive.  It also helps us understand, for our customers, exactly the products that are being created in the field. So, a huge shout out to our partners: Mosaic, Lim Geomatics, UBC, and Sue Paish and DIGITAL…”

These types of advancements are essential for constructing a prosperous future for the local and global natural resources sector. Moreover, the imperative nature of digital adoption for the industry’s transition towards addressing key challenges and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the sectors is a focal point that DIGITAL will continue to drive and support with our industry partners.

Acknowledging that significant change demands a collective effort, collaboration with industry, government, and Indigenous communities is not merely encouraged but imperative. As we navigate the path towards a net-zero economy and a sustainable future, we recognize the necessity for a collaborative approach.

Since our start in 2018, DIGITAL and our industry partners have collectively invested more than $60 million in our natural resources portfolio. These investments focus on the development and deployment of made-in-B.C. digital technologies that are bringing innovation and resiliency to our province’s natural resources sector and beyond. DIGITAL is staying ahead of this curve, ensuring that the progress achieved in the natural resources sector authentically contributes to societal well-being and environmental stewardship.

Explore DIGITAL’s initiatives in Natural Resources here.