I am very pleased to welcome you to IAIA'04 here in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. If this is your first experience of an IAIA annual meeting, we can promise you a stimulating and informative time. If you are an "old hand," then I need hardly remind you of the opportunities the meeting presents for networking and for keeping abreast of new thinking, new approaches, and stimulating examples of good practice across the wide field of impact assessment.
The theme this year is very important: if impact assessment is to be effective in helping society to move closer to the goal of sustainable development, business needs to be viewed as a partner in the process, alongside communities and individuals, interest groups and statutory agencies. True to the spirit of IAIA, this is best achieved by openly sharing views, ideas and experiences, so at this meeting we are wanting plenty of communication between all participants! The organisers have done a magnificent job attracting so many people and developing a first rate programme around the central theme of business and impact assessment: let's do justice to their efforts. You may find it useful to look at the suggestions in the programme for navigating your way through the next few days to get the most out of the meeting.
If you are new to IAIA and want to know more about us, come to one of our introductory talks; some of you may also have taken advantage of our new mentoring scheme to help ease you into the community of impact assessors and guide you through the meeting. Please feel free to come up and talk to me during the refreshment breaks: I'm always happy to chat about IAIA and impact assessment, and I'll facilitate your introduction to other participants if that would help! And if, like me, you are making your first trip to this beautiful city, be sure to make some time for looking around. Have a rewarding meeting and a very enjoyable stay.