Calgarys big corporate Christmas parties on the outs amid oil slump pain

CALGARY — The era of the big-ticket corporate holiday bash appears to be on life support in Calgary.[np_storybar title=”Laid-off Calgarians losing hope as prospects dwindle and money runs short” link=””%5D Almost 15,000 Albertans have lost their jobs this year in the oil collapse — and many worry the economy’s recovery will come too late for themRead more [/np_storybar]“We produce events across North America and everywhere else we’re fine, but in Calgary we’re down 80 per cent,” said David Howard, president of The Event Group, a party planning company in the city.In the past, Howard said, he’s organized extravagant events in the city that cost upwards of a million dollars. But energy companies have since returned to reality and are spending far less — both because of budget constraints and public perceptions.This year, they’re cutting back even further — or cancelling parties altogether — as layoffs and low oil prices continue to hammer the industry.“We’ve chatted with a lot of our clients and advised them on holding back this year,” Howard said. “You have a lot of oil-and-gas companies that went through a ton of layoffs, their stock prices dropped, so it really isn’t the best time right now to be doing an event.”If they don’t do it, even in some small way, then that’s not good for moraleSuncor Energy says it’s not hosting a large employee party this year but will still have regional family events, while Cenovus Energy says it’s cancelled its corporate Christmas bash entirely.“We’ve reduced all of our discretionary spending in light of the current economic climate, so we are not holding a corporate Christmas party this year,” said Cenovus spokesman Brett Harris.More people have been laid off in Alberta so far this year than in the past two years combinedFormer Alberta premier Alison Redford returns as consensus builder on energy transitionPower utility Enmax has also cut its official party out of respect for customers facing tough economic times, said spokeswoman Doris Kaufmann Woodcock. The company is instead encouraging its managers to consider low-cost options like potlucks.Some companies, however, had actually ditched the fancy company-funded holiday party well before the downturn.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Both Husky Energy and Enbridge are going ahead with their usual employee-funded parties this year, while TransCanada hasn’t had a large-scale Christmas party in recent years and instead leaves it up to small units within the company to decide how to celebrate.Pam McCarthy at Five Star Events says that even with the cutbacks, it’s important that companies go ahead with some sort of event.“If they don’t do it, even in some small way, then that’s not good for morale,” McCarthy said.“So instead of a massive dinner dance with a band, they might be doing something more low-key, whether it’s a luncheon or an after-work at a pub. Very few companies are cancelling their event altogether, they’re just doing it on a smaller scale.”Paddy Sorrenti of Sorrenti’s Catering says that he’s experiencing cancellations and a lot of downsizing of oil-and-gas Christmas parties, but outside of the sector, business is still looking good.“We have a lot of non oil-and-gas clientele, and most of them are still full-tilt with their parties, but they’ve never, ever been super-extravagant,” said Sorrenti.And while Calgary’s oil-and-gas industry may be cutting back, some companies in the city are still throwing big parties.Heather Lundy, director of marketing and communications for the Telus Convention Centre, says she’s seen only about a 15 per cent drop in Christmas party bookings, and the companies returning this year haven’t cut their attendance numbers or their budgets.The Canadian Press read more

Road to Dignity by 2030 UN chief launches blueprint towards sustainable development

“Next year, 2015, will herald an unprecedented opportunity to take far-reaching, long-overdue global action to secure our future well-being,” Mr. Ban said as he called on Member States to be “innovative, inclusive, agile, determined and coordinated” in negotiating the agenda that will succeed the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN-backed effort to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, promote education, especially for girls, fight disease and protect the environment, all by 2015.In an informal briefing to the 193-Member Assembly, the UN chief presented his synthesis report, The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet, alongside the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa who also addressed delegates, describing the process of intergovernmental negotiations that fed into the report’s compilation to set the stage for agreement on the new framework at a September 2015 summit and stressing the “historical responsibility” States faced to deliver a transformative agenda.The synthesis report aims to support States’ discussions going forward, taking stock of the negotiations on the post-2015 agenda and reviewing lessons from pursuit of the MDGs. It stresses the need to “finish the job” – both to help people now and as a launch pad for the new agenda.In the report’s conclusion, the Secretary-General issues a powerful charge to Member States, saying: “We are on the threshold of the most important year of development since the founding of the United Nations itself. We must give meaning to this Organization’s promise to ‘reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of the human person’ and to take the world forward to a sustainable future…[We] have an historic opportunity and duty to act, boldly, vigorously and expeditiously, to turn reality into a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind.”Never before has so broad and inclusive a consultation been undertaken on development, Mr. Ban told the Assembly today, referring to the consultations that followed Rio+20 [ the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development], adding that his synthesis report “looks ahead, and discusses the contours of a universal and transformative agenda that places people and planet at the centre, is underpinned by human rights, and is supported by a global partnership.”The coming months would see agreement on the final parameters of the post-2015 agenda and he stressed the need for inclusion of a compelling and principled narrative, based on human rights and dignity. Financing and other means of implementation would also be essential and he called for strong, inclusive public mechanisms for reporting, monitoring progress, learning lessons, and ensuring shared responsibility.He also welcomed the outcome produced by the Open Working Group, saying its 17 proposed sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets clearly expressed an agenda aiming at ending poverty, achieving shared prosperity, protecting the planet and leaving no one behind.Discussions of the Working Group had been inclusive and productive and he the Group’s proposal should form the basis of the new goals, as agreed by the General Assembly. The goals should be “focused and concise” to boost global awareness and country-level implementation, communicating clearly Member States’ ambition and vision.The synthesis report presented dignity, people, prosperity, the planet, justice and partnerships as an integrated set of “essential elements” aimed at providing conceptual guidance during discussions of the goals and Mr. Ban stressed that none could be considered in isolation from the others and that each was an integral part of the whole.“Implementation will be the litmus test of this agenda. It must be placed on a sound financial footing,” he said welcoming the work of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and encouraging countries to scale up their efforts. The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa next year would play a major role in outlining the means for implementation, and he stressed the “key role” national Governments would play in raising domestic revenue to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. Official development assistance (ODA) and international public funds, particularly for vulnerable countries, would also be vital to unlocking “the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources”, while private investment would be particularly important on projects related to the transition to low-carbon economies, improving access to water, renewable energy, agriculture, industry, infrastructure and transport. Implementation would also rely on bridging the technology gap, creating a new framework for shared accountability, and providing reliable data, which he called the “lifeblood of sound decision-making.”Stressing his commitment to ensuring the best outcome from the post-2015 process, he underlined the need for States to be guided by universal human rights and international norms, while remaining responsive to different needs and contexts in different countries. “We must embrace the possibilities and opportunities of the task at hand,” he said.In an earlier interview with the UN News Centre Amina J. Mohammed, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning stressed that one of the report’s main “takeaways” is that “by 2030 we can end poverty, we can transform lives and we can find ways to protect the planet while doing that.”“I think that’s important because we’re talking about a universal agenda where we’re going to leave no one behind. It’s not doing things by halves or by three-quarters, it’s about everyone mattering…To say you don’t want to leave anyone behind is to look to see who is the most vulnerable and smallest member of the family and what is it that we’re going to have to do to ensure that they’re not left behind, because that will be the litmus test and success of what we do.” Sustainable development goals Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts* Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversityloss Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development * Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change. read more