In 1987, during a peak of environmental awareness activity in Canada, the Environ-mental Association of Alberta (ESAA) was formed. Though people had not yet begun using the term “global warming” in every other sentence when talking about the environment, this cutting-edge association was already on the move. ESAA were pioneers, representing companies in the environmental services industry who were dedicated to promoting environmental practices with their clients.
Since its inception, ESAA has continued to provide its members with educational publications and conferences much needed in the ever-changing environmental industry, as well as providing networking opportunities. The vision: “Environmental integrity through innovative business solutions.” ESAA lives their vision through advocacy initiatives, integrating their core set of values in everyday operations.
Values and integrity enhancing advocacy
The ESAA Board of Directors has identified the following set of values used to guide the process of planning, as well as guide its actions, as it delivers services to its members andstakeholders:
Member Service ESAA exists to provide its membership with relevant services that have a positive effect on their core business.
Leadership ESAA strives to be a model industry association that is responsive to the needs of its membership and the environment industry as a whole.
Commitment ESAA is committed to the promotion of the environment industry as a key industry and contributor to the sustainable development of the Alberta economy.
Recognition ESAA accepts its responsibility as the voice of Alberta’s environment industry and works to ensure that the industry’s concerns are communicated clearly to all internal and external stakeholders.
Integrity ESAA is determined to insure that it delivers its services reliably and ethically.
Honesty ESAA is a transparent organization that works openly with industry and government to build partnerships based on trust.
Vision ESAA sets strategic goals based on market trends for the betterment of sustainable industry and the general public.
Excellence All ESAA’s values lead to ESAA’s commitment to help its membership become recognized world leaders in environmental technology, best practices and innovation.
Clarity in a critical industry
Joe Barraclough, Director, Industry and Government Relations says that ESAA is focused on its values and “collective management” and, as such, is not run but an executive director. Barraclough endeavours to promote the associations’ initiatives and make sure that the industry’s needs are understood by governments. A key part of understanding various issues is clarity—something ESAA has been providing since 1987. Barraclough says “there is a tendency in the world to define environmental services as ‘clean tech’” but environmental services are not the same thing.
According to Barraclough, ESAA member companies can be in the clean tech sector, but primarily are in “remediation and reclamation work including hydro geology, waste management, and hazardous waste management.”
Educating the industry
Barraclough and his associate, Joe Chowaniec, Director of Program and Event Development, have been running courses at the ESAA for those in the environmental services industry since the early 1990s, always trying to keep up-to-date with the latest regulations.
Chowaniec says that usually it is an in influx of new employees at member companies that trigger the association to run courses. However, with the economic slowdown last year, ESAA decided to halt and upgrade the courses, since no one really had the budget or wherewithal to send employees to ESAA courses. “We want to continue to provide companies with timely information to help them run their businesses, so we provide up-to-date information—our board is a great resource” to contribute to courses offered, Chowaniec explains.
ESAA is always available to member companies and individuals, to keep them informed and help with industry issues. “We always have an open door, especially if a member has an issue that’s going to affect the industry as a whole” Chowaniec says. “We’re not a lobby, we’re an advocacy group—and really are the voice of the environmental service industry.”
As long as provincial regulations on the environment and Canadian regulations are being enforced, there will always be a need for the environmental services industry—regulation is really the stimulus. “ESAA provides our members with a stakeholder voice” Barraclough assures, adding that the best way to get ahead in the industry is to “remain innovative in your approach to what you do”—in an ever-changing industry.
For more information on ESAA efforts, visit www.esaa.org.