Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says we need to find a balance between protecting the environment and allowing industry to thrive, in remarks made at the Saturday launch of a week-long convention in the city.

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is an annual gathering of 70 scholarly associations, now in its 85th year.

Nenshi kicked off the event by giving a keynote 'big thinking' lecture on leadership, community and resiliency saying big ideas are not enough on their own.

"It is important for us to balance off the very best thinking and the very best knowledge with the reality of how people live," Nenshi told about 200 people.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Mayor Naheed Nenshi addressed the opening of the week-long Congress 2016 of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Calgary on Saturday. (Mike Symington/CBC)

He expressed concerns about the Leap Manifesto, a document that calls for a move towards renewable energy, an end to fossil fuel subsidies and projects like pipelines, increased corporate taxes and resource royalties, among other ideas.

The manifesto is supported by documentary filmmaker couple Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis and a who's who of the Indigenous rights, social justice and environmental movements.

Nenshi isn't sold.

"The topic of tomorrow's big idea lectures is capitalism versus the climate," he said.

'I know I don't get that'

"I don't know if I get that. And, in fact, I know I don't get that because I believe that we have to adapt to reality. And yes, we're moving to a low carbon future, of course we are, but there's still a role for business, there's still a role for carbon, there's still a role for people to make a decent living."

The mayor talked about the massive 2013 Alberta floods.

He offered insight about two key decisions he made during the recovery phase: being transparent with information and allowing people to return to their homes before they were inspected.

Nenshi says those decisions were contrary to accepted crisis management procedure.

"I do have a core political philosophy and this is it, I'm going to share it with you now, people aren't stupid," he said.

Human spirit, resiliency

Nenshi said Calgary is more than just the centre of oil industry activity.

It's most important asset is human spirit and the resiliency that springs from it, he said.

The Congress brings thousands of people to Calgary.

Congress 2016 brings thousands to Calgary

The Congress brings thousands of people to Calgary for the week-long event. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

"Academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow," the event website explains.

It concludes Friday.