Nova Scotia is committed to generating 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, like tidal and wind power, by 2020.
"Nova Scotia is a small province with a big future in sustainable energy," Premier McNeil told delegates. "We're addressing climate change and the need for a lower carbon future by embracing change through innovation that focuses on one of our greatest advantages - our proximity to the ocean and its tides."
The premier addressed participants at the forum as part of a panel looking for ways to promote smarter, climate-friendly growth through innovation. The event is a highlight of his visit to Southeast Asia to promote enhanced trade relationships and investment opportunities in Nova Scotia.
The provincial government has encouraged innovation in developing, storing and using lower-carbon energy sources through regulatory changes and programs designed to support research and development into alternative power sources.
This includes support for tidal generation, wind power development, forestry by-products and biofuels.
"Many equate innovation with technology but really it should be thought of in a broader way," said Premier McNeil. "It takes leadership to ensure we are optimizing our energy resources in the most responsible way. And it takes governments, academia, and the private sector working together to innovate in research and regulation."
The conference, called New Champions, is an annual meeting of 1500 delegates from all parts of the world exploring current issues including climate change, energy development, health-care innovation, ocean technology and information technology.
Nova Scotia is capitalizing on natural assets like the high tides in the Bay of Fundy and access to significant wind resources to become a leading edge source for research and public policy to deliver on the potential for cleaner ways to generate energy.
Examples of innovative approaches being used in Nova Scotia include the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy that is supporting research to develop turbines that can withstand the strong tidal forces in the Bay of Fundy. The work at the centre can lead to technology that can support tidal power development around the world.
"Our history has been built on the oceans," said Premier McNeil. "Nova Scotia's future will be built on energy, innovation and trade."