Michael Small is Executive Director of Renewable Cities and Carbon Talks, two programs of the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. He joined the Centre on January 1, 2015 after a thirty-three year career as a diplomat and senior executive in the Canadian foreign service.
Immediately prior to coming to Vancouver, Michael was Canada’s High Commissioner to Australia from September 2010 until December 2014. Before that, he served in Ottawa as Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Assistant Deputy Minister, Global Issues, in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. In the latter capacity, he co-ordinated Canada’s representation across a wide range of multilateral fora, including the G8, the United Nations, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie and the Arctic Council. From 2000-2003 he was Canada’s Ambassador to Cuba. Earlier in his career, Michael was posted to Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Malaysia.
Michael has had a life-long interest in the international policy issues around sustainable development. He was became very involved in the issues around tropical deforestation in Brazil when he lived there in the late 1980s He was one of the founders of the Brazilian Agro-Forestry Network, and then served for two years as the Co-ordinator for the Canadian delegation to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. More recently, he has worked on climate change issues as Canada’s communiqué negotiator for the 2007 and 2008 G8 Summits. He also has extensive experience in designing dialogues that that bridge different communities of expertise, in particular around the issues of peace-building in fragile states and around corporate social responsibility and the extractive sector. He brings his fascination with the intersection between science, public policy, and international relations to Centre’s programs on Renewable Cities and Carbon Talks.
Michael Small earned an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University in 1978; a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1980; and a M.Phil in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University in 1981. From 2003-2004 he was a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. He is also author of “The Forgotten Peace: Mediation at Niagara Falls, 1914”, published by the University of Ottawa Press in 2009.
His personal interests include scuba diving, biodiversity and marine malacology. He has curated two travelling photographic exhibitions in previous postings: “Pacific Currents”, a vision of the marine life along the Pacific coast of North America; and “Canada-Cuba: One Hundred Years in View”, a photographic retrospective of the relations between the two countries.