The New Diplomacy of Natural Resources: The Future of Energy Development

Press Release

April 21, 2020

The United Nations Association in Canada’s (UNA-Canada) first virtual session of The New Diplomacy of Natural Resources was a huge success!

On April 8, 2020, UNA-Canada convened the first virtual session of The New Diplomacy of Natural Resources. Sixteen (16) delegates and four (4) subject matter experts engaged in a full day of purposeful discussion, reflective debate and respectful negotiation, to collaboratively create a resolution for the Future of Energy Development (see below).

The day commenced with powerful and insightful presentations by four distinguished local leaders, each representing a different stakeholder group (Gregory John – Industry, Deanna Burgart – Indigenous, Robyn Seetal – Environmental Non-Government Organization (ENGO) and Greg Clark – Government). The delegates (graduate students and emergent leaders) spent an hour in virtual breakout rooms guided by their respective subject matter expert to gain first-hand knowledge and discuss key issues facing their “adopted” perspective in the context of energy development. The commitment and efforts of these groups were instrumental in fostering collaboration; one participant highlighting, “purposeful discussions in these private virtual spaces helped us all reflect upon other peoples’ voices and perspectives”.

Delegates then joined tiger teams, where each stakeholder group was represented, to negotiate a resolution for the Future of Energy Development. These emerging leaders were challenged to ensure the key values and concerns of their “adopted” perspective were reflected in the resolution. One participant shared, “Taking the perspectives of stakeholders/rights holders, with whom I usually negotiate from across the table, was helpful to gain understanding and develop greater empathy”.

Throughout the day, the UNA-Canada Team leveraged various interactive tools (breakout rooms, collective writing, feedback interactions) to enable continuous interactions, leading to rich and substantive conversation and debate. One participant shared, “It felt very close to actually meeting all these amazing people! One of the best and productive sessions I ever had”.

The day was a huge success, as seen in the depth of issues addressed in the resolution, and the engagement of all who participated during the day. This cohort came prepared with strong ideas surrounding the challenges of energy transition. The subject matter experts were champions in mentoring the delegates who advocated so passionately and effectively. Animated conversations, facilitated through “chats”, lead to unique networking opportunities. One participants shared they valued “…engaging with young professionals from across Canada to align on a common understanding of the urgency to act on energy transition, and refining our perspectives to ensure all stakeholder perspectives are considered”.

At the end of the day, UNA-Canada invited local Calgary stakeholders to join the virtual discussion. Representatives from the energy sector, the Federal Government, universities and local community groups were present and participated in the dialogue. A delegate representative read aloud their resolution. The panelists, Ed Ma – Senior Strategist with Suncor and Jason Switzer – Executive Director with Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance, provided personal insights regarding the future of energy development. To conclude the session all guests and participants shared ideas how to continue this respectful discussion and debate into the Calgary community, and beyond.

UNA-Canada is very proud of this programme, and the meaningful dialogue resulting from the days’ discussion and debate. We want to thank all the delegates, subject matter experts panelists and participants for sharing their values, ideas and reflections. We thank Nell van Walsum for organizing and facilitating the event, Lisa Rosenberg and Mansi Sethi for all their contributions, and for their support we thank Western Economic Diversification Canada, BC Oil and Gas Commission, The Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the UNA-Canada Calgary Branch.

For more information on UNA-Canada’s New Diplomacy of Natural Resources programme, details on how to get involved and ways in which you can support the programme, please contact


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