Little Rossland’s big-time influencer

Former Alberta city guy works his high-level influence from laid-back Rossland

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Aaron Cosbey, internationally recognized development economist, took part in the Golden City Days Parade in his role as city councillor for Rossland, B.C.

Aaron Cosbey, internationally recognized development economist, took part in the Golden City Days Parade in his role as city councillor for Rossland, B.C. — Larry Doell photo

Aaron Cosbey’s Rossland story has a familiar beginning: “We came here from Calgary to ski for a weekend in 2000,” he said, “and we fell in love with not just Rossland but the whole Kootenays. We came back a year later and settled down.”

Cosbey is a husband and the father of two teenagers, and a Rossland city council member focused on education, regional recreation, economic development and sustainability, among other areas. That’s certainly enough to earn him the label of “influencer,” at least locally.

In his profession, though, he influences pretty much the whole world. Cosbey is a development economist who, for the past 25 years, has worked mostly for the Winnipeg-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a non-profit think tank with offices in Geneva, New York, Beijing and Ottawa. He has worked primarily in trade and investment policy, and in sustainable development.

“For example,” he said, “we’re in the process of renegotiating the NAFTA—what does a green NAFTA look like? What do you do with the environmental provisions in the NAFTA? What do you do with those provisions that have an impact on the environment but are not specifically environmental provisions?”

Aaron Cosbey of Rossland, B.C., is a development economist who works for the International Institute for Sustainable Development. — Photo courtesy Aaron Cosbey

For the past 15 years Cosbey has also worked on climate change policy, and he currently heads up a project to create guidance for about 60 member-countries in an association for sustainable mining development. The project focuses on how to capitalize on mining investment so that it creates decent employment with benefits for existing economies.

Cosbey has served as an expert advisor to more than 20 prestigious Canadian and international organizations, including Environment Canada, the World Bank, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, International Trade Canada's Market Access Advisory Group, the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, and as the deputy minister for International Trade's Academic Advisory Council on Canadian Trade Policy.

An accessible airport and a good Internet connection are the minimum requirements for Cosbey’s work, and those are available in many communities. Those amenities, combined with Cosbey's passion for nature and sustainable development, make Rossland a perfect home base for him.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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