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Good Afternoon. Iím Professor John Kirton, Principal Investigator of the EnviReform Project.

It is my great pleasure, on behalf of my colleagues in the Research Team and our Community Partners, to welcome you to our conference.

This conference, and the research project of which it is a part, has a simple mission to equip Canadians to participate in shaping trade and finance regimes that enhance environmental quality, social cohesion, and sustainable development at home and abroad.

Our work is propelled in part by the premise, central to sustainable development, that one can strike a better balance between the values of those in the trade community and those in the environmental community, in ways that help realize the ideals of both.

How to do that, and indeed whether that can be done, is a subject of much uncertainty and controversy. In the finest tradition of the university, we will no doubt see a rich diversity of views, across a wide range of the epistemic spectrum, vigorously expressed over the next two days of our conference, and over the next two years as our project unfolds.

Together we face a formidable challenge in charting how we might strengthen Canadaís environmental community and social cohesion through international regime reform, amidst the intense forces of globalization now at work.

We need to think across very different levels of analysis. On the one hand we need to chart the values embedded at the core of the existing and evolving international order and institutions of global governance. At the same time, we need to connect these with life at the local level. For we are eloquently reminded by Konrad Von Moltke, one of the intellectual founding fathers of the North American Commission for Environmental Co-operation, that we as environmentalists are concerned ultimately about the fate of specific species in particular habitats, and about the social well being and cultural integrity of individuals in the local communities which surround them.

We also need a broad vision in our subject matter - one which embraces issues of air, water, land and living things, but also human health, food safety, occupational health and safety, labour issues and other social concerns.

That is why we have assembled for our conference a distinguished array of speakers, from several regions of Canada, North America and the world.

That is why we have included in our project team nine scholars, from five different disciplines and several component fields.

That is why we have innovatively reached out to join with our seven community partners, who bring an invaluable array of resources to our endeavour.

And that is why we need your contribution, both here at our conference, and in the years ahead.

I invite you all to fill in the Research Registry in your conference kits, so that we might enlarge and deepen the community we are beginning to create here today.

I also invite you to peruse, at the breaks, our website and book display. Please offer you views on how we might improve these instruments to better meet your needs. Peter Hajnal, our Information Manager and Madeline Koch, our Managing Editor, or any Research Team member, will be happy to hear your thoughts.

In closing, let me take a moment to express my thanks to the many individuals who have brought this conference to us, and who are here to help as it unfolds over the next two days.

First, to my fellow conference co-organizers - Professors Harriet Friedmann, Stephen Clarkson, Virginia Maclaren and Julie Soloway -, and to my supportive colleagues - Louis Pauly, David Welch and Janice Stein.

Second, to EnviReformís Information Manager, Professor Peter Hajnal and his website and webcasting team, who are our vital link for ongoing communication with outside world.

Third to our students - Marilena Liguori, Gina Stephens, Andrey Anischenko - and their colleagues, respectively, in our undergraduate programs, doctoral programs, and Collaborative Master of Arts in International Relations.

Fourth to Mary Lynne Bratti and her team of first class professional staff here at the Munk Centre for International Studies.

And fifth to our sponsors, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which is financing our conference and project, the Collaborative Master of Arts in International Relations, a conference co-sponsor, and Melanie and Peter Munk, Vivian and David Campbell and the many other donors who have make these splendid facilities possible.

Finally, let me extend a personal invitation to you to join us at 8:00 this evening in the Governing Council Chambers at Simcoe Hall to the south, for our conference keynote address by the Honourable Pierre Marc Johnson, the former Prime Minister of Quebec.

I will now call on my colleague, Professor Harriet Friedmann, to begin our first conference session.