Public Participation in Environmental Management in Canada and Chile
- OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION IN CANADA
- 1.0 Preparation of the Canada Report
- 2.0 Canadian Context
- 3.0 Public Participation
- 4.0 Trends and Challenges
- 4.1 Higher Expectations
- 4.2 Increased Deregulation and Emphasis on Voluntary Initiatives
- 4.3 Increased Demands on Human and Financial Resources
- 4.4 Demands to Create a "Level Playing Field"
- 4.5 Greater Demands for Transparency and Access to Information
- 4.6 Increasing Role of the Voluntary Sector
- 4.7 New Consultation Methods
- 4.8 Greater Need for Coordination
- 5.0 Approaches and Tools for Engaging the Public
- 6.0 Summary
- OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION IN CHILE
- 1.0 National Focus
- 2.0 Civil Society's participation in the National System of Environmental Management
- 2.1 Participation in the Environmental Impact Evaluation System
- 2.2 Participation in the Establishment of Environmental and Emission Quality Standards
- 2.3 Participation in the Prevention and Decontamination Plans
- 3.0 Other Participation Mechanisms
- 4.0 Summary and Future Challenges
- Appendix A: Successes
- Appendix B: International Influences
Environmental management is the collective responsibility of individuals, communities, industry, business, organizations and institutions, governments, and countries. Increasingly, governments recognize the value and importance of participation by civil society in environmental management, and are responding to the public’s desire to be included in decision-making processes on matters that affect them. Public participation is viewed as integral to having an effective environmental management regime by both the government of Chile and Canada.
The commitment by both governments to public participation is reflected in the Canada-Chile Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (CCAEC), under which common undertakings are made to foster opportunities for participation. Article 10 (6) of the Agreement directs the Council to promote and, as appropriate, develop recommendations regarding: public access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities of each Party, and opportunity to participate in decision-making processes related to such public access.
During the first meeting of the Council in November 1998, Canada and Chile agreed to promote civil society participation in environmental management. The 1999 Annual Program and Budget for CCAEC activities includes provision for investigation of the role of public consultation and participation in environmental management.
The purpose of this joint project is to promote transparency and public participation in environmental management. The objectives are four-fold:
- to enhance and strengthen the knowledge on participation of civil society in environmental management and to promote environmental citizenship and awareness in Canada and Chile;
- to share experiences and best practices with respect to public involvement in environmental decision making;
- to facilitate access to information on non-governmental and governmental public participation initiatives currently underway in Canada and Chile; and
- to work towards more effective civil participation in protecting the environment within the context of sustainable development.
Both countries prepared their own section for this report, and contributed to the introduction and the conclusion sections. The Chilean Commission for the Environment (CONAMA) and Environment Canada have striven to report on existing models, mechanisms, approaches and tools for public participation in environmental management; and, trends, opportunities and challenges related to public participation in their countries.
This status report was prepared in consultation with the Party Secretariats, through the review of domestic and international documents on the requirements and implementation of public involvement in environmental management, and on assessments of both the government and public regarding the effectiveness of Canada’s practices.
This paper is divided into 7 parts. The Introduction provides a rationale and context for the report; Section 2 describes the federal environmental management regime in Canada, and Section 3, the role of the public. Section 4 outlines the trends and challenges in public participation, both domestically and internationally. Section 5 presents Environment Canada’s framework for planning consultations and the use of consultation tools. Section 6 describes both successes and opportunities for involving the public more effectively. And Section 7 provides a brief summary. This report also includes a Glossary of terms and a Bibliography of reference materials.
Canada’s "environment management regime" is set within the context of sustainable development (i.e. the consideration of economic, social and environmental factors in decision making).
In addition, for the purposes of this paper, the following terms will be used interchangeably to refer to participation by the public in environmental decision making: public involvement, public participation and public consultation.
In recognition of the environment as a shared responsibility between governments and Aboriginal people, the private sector, voluntary and community-based organizations, and individual Canadians, the federal government is committed to open and transparent policy and program development.
The environment is a shared jurisdiction in Canada and, therefore, cooperation on environmental management is essential. The Constitution Act of 1867 does not refer to the environment; authority to act in environmental matters comes from other powers assigned to the federal, provincial and territorial levels of government. Key provincial environmental responsibilities derive from, among other things, jurisdiction over the management of provincial Crown lands, resources, property and civil rights, and local works and undertakings. Important federal environmental responsibility has been derived from a number of powers, especially those related to fisheries, interprovincial and international trade and commerce, criminal law, and peace, order and good government. Agriculture is defined as a shared federal-provincial responsibility.
Environment Canada, created in 1971, is a science-based federal department whose business is helping Canadians live and prosper in an environment that is properly protected and conserved. Its goal is to help make sustainable development a reality in Canada. Environment Canada has five regional offices which deliver programs and services for environmental conservation and protection, and atmospheric services. Within federal jurisdiction, its main focus is pollution prevention and control, nature conservation and weather services.
Every federal Minister and department shares in the responsibility to deliver on the Government’s environmental stewardship and sustainable development goals. However, certain departments have responsibility for aspects of environmental protection, such as: Fisheries and Oceans, Health, Agriculture and Agri-food, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Transport, Natural Resources and Canadian Heritage (involving national parks). Each of the provinces, which have much of the responsibility for environmental management, has a ministry of environment which addresses pollution abatement, nature conservation, and in some cases, natural resources.
Key federal environmental legislation in Canada includes the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Both pieces of legislation have periodic mandatory review requirements.
Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), passed in 1988 and renewed in 1999, is the joint responsibility of Environment Canada and Health Canada. It now requires the creation of environmental quality objectives, guidelines and codes of practice, and regular reporting on the state of Canada’s environment. The renewed CEPA also has important new public participation requirements including an increased role for Aboriginal peoples in environmental protection, a new Environmental Registry, the right to sue for damage to the environment, and comprehensive ‘whistle-blower’ protection provisions to encourage more Canadians to report CEPA violations.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, passed through Parliament in 1992 and brought into force in 1995, requires environmental assessment of all new projects wherever a federal authority meets certain conditions. Through CEAA, the Government of Canada is committed to facilitating public participation in environment assessments, and providing access to the information on which those environmental assessments are based. CEAA includes provisions for participant funding (financial support for people and representatives of organizations to participate in mediation and panel reviews), and also provides for a public registry for all projects undergoing a review by a mediator.
Environment Canada also administers a large number of acts, in part (e.g., the Fisheries Act and regulations), in whole (e.g., the Canada Wildlife Act and regulations) and in assistance to other departments (e.g., the Hazardous Products Act).
Amendments to the Auditor General’s Act in 1995, led to two institutional changes at the Federal level. First, the position of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) was created in the Office of the Auditor General. Second, federal departments and agencies are now required to prepare and table in Parliament a Sustainable Development Strategy (SDSs). In developing departmental Strategies, federal departments and agencies are instructed to consult with their clients, partners and stakeholders on departmental priorities for sustainable development and how to achieve them. The first SDSs were tabled in Parliament in 1997, and must be renewed every three years. The CESD is accountable to Parliament for monitoring and reporting on the processes used by departments to develop their SDSs, such as consultations, and measuring departmental performance in meeting their SDS commitments.
The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (1983) exists to provide Canadians with a right of access to information in records under the control of federal institutions. This right is in accordance with the principle that government information should be available to the public.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) is a multi-stakeholder agency independent of the federal government, committed to providing decision makers and opinion leaders with reliable information and objective views on the current state of the debate on the environment and the economy. The NRTEE was legislated by an Act of Parliament in 1994, to serve as a catalyst in identifying, explaining and promoting principles and practices of sustainable development. NRTEE’s members are appointed by Order in Council, representing a broad range of regions and sectors - including business, labour, academe, environmental organizations and First Nations.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is charged with putting CEAA into practice and is dedicated solely to administering and promoting environmental assessment of policies and practices of the federal government. It reports directly to the Minister of the Environment and operates independently of any other federal department or agency. Environmental assessment provides an effective means of integrating environmental factors into planning and decision-making processes in a manner that promotes sustainable development.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, composed of elected Members of Parliament, regularly conducts formal public hearings on a range of government policy and legislative issues related to the environment and sustainable development. Witnesses from a variety of sectors, groups and individuals are frequently called upon to provide their views and perspectives. The Committee has the power to report back to Parliament, and make specific recommendations to the Government. The Committee can request that the Government table a comprehensive response to a Committee report.
Shared responsibility for environmental management requires communication, collaboration and consultation among federal, provincial and territorial governments. Three principle structures are in place that promote inter-jurisdictional cooperation, the Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment (CCME), the Joint Ministers of Energy and Environment (JMM), and the Wildlife Ministers’ Council of Canada.
The Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment is the major voluntary intergovernmental forum for discussion and cooperation on environmental issues of national, regional and global concern. Based on consensus decision making, the environment ministers from the provinces, territories and the federal government meet at least twice per year to address priority environmental issues.
The Joint Ministers of Energy and Environment is comprised of provincial, territorial and federal energy and environment ministers who focus primarily on climate change. Both deputy ministers and senior officials support their ministers in this work.
The Wildlife Ministers’ Council of Canada is comprised of the ministers of federal, provincial and territorial governments, in this case, those responsible for wildlife. The Council meets annually to work collaboratively to conserve Canada’s wildlife and its habitat. Their work is supported by deputy ministers and the Canadian Wildlife Directors’ Committee.
Community and voluntary sector involvement on environmental issues is essential in Canada. The federal government recognizes the need to build partnerships with communities and to renew its relationship with voluntary organizations that serve and sustain them. The Government has plans to enter into a national accord with the voluntary sector, laying a new foundation for active partnership with voluntary organizations in the service of Canadians. It is also committed to actively engage tens of thousands of young Canadian volunteers to participate in community and national environmental projects.
Other non-governmental structures also play a key role in Canada’s environmental management regime. The ENGO community is essential. Institutions (e.g. universities, foundations) are also important. For example, the International Institute for Sustainable Development promotes sustainable development in decision-making internationally and within Canada. The Public Policy Forum is a non-partisan, non-profit organization aimed at improving the quality of government in Canada through better dialogue between government, the private and third sectors. The Forum’s members are drawn from business, federal and provincial government, the voluntary sector and the labour movement. Through research and discussion, they examine the way government operates and make recommendations to reform public sector management in Canada.
2.4 Major Federal-Provincial-Territorial Initiative: National Implementation on Climate Change (NIS)
Canada’s commitment to climate change is co-managed by the ministers of energy and environment, and is jointly led at the federal level by Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada. A National Secretariat manages and supports 16 multistakeholder groups, called "Issue Tables", to allow experts (representatives from government, industry, environmental non-government groups [ENGOs] and others) in sector-specific and cross-cutting subject areas to analyze emissions reduction opportunities and barriers. The Tables address federal/provincial issues which cross jurisdictional lines. Findings and recommendations will be subject to peer reviews and stakeholder consultations to ensure wider acceptance and support for implementation. The Tables’ final reports are expected to provide the building blocks for Canada’s response in the National Implementation Strategy on the Kyoto Protocol.
"environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens at the relevant level"
Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration
Public participation rests on the belief that those who are affected by decisions should have the opportunity to influence the outcomes of those decisions. This belief is strongly held by Canadians. In response, the government has established, and continues to develop ways in which to support meaningful public involvement.
The Canadian government has experienced the importance of involving Canadians in decisions that affect them. Increasingly governments and organizations (public and private) have developed principles to guide their decisions and actions related to public participation. In Environment Canada’s policy, Our Commitment to Effective Consultations (see Appendix), principles outline the departmental approach to planning and implementing an average of 90 public involvement activities per year.
The planning and implementation of consultations are guided by:
- an open and transparent process;
- ensuring participants have the means for participation;
- selecting appropriate consultation techniques for each situation;
- establishing clear timelines, context and goals;
- defined ground rules for everyone;
- provision of appropriate resources;
- incorporation of results in decisions making; and
- ongoing communication with participants.
Federal Guidelines affirm the democratic right of Canadians to have their views considered in government-decision-making. They also affirm the need for active involvement on the part of Ministers, senior managers, line departments and central agencies in supporting a consultative culture in the Government of Canada.
A 1998 Consultations Directive requires federal departments to identify in each Memoranda to Cabinet the key stakeholders consulted, the consultation process employed, the outcomes, and any follow-up consultations planned as part of the implementation of a policy. Other perspectives relating to particular policy proposals (e.g. gender-based analysis, diversity, official languages) should also be included.
In addition, in 1990, the Cabinet directed departments to consider environmental concerns at the strategic level of policy, program and plan development. This directive was updated in 1999 to strengthen the role of environmental assessment, by clarifying the obligations of departments and agencies, and linking environmental assessment to the implementation of Sustainable Development Strategies.
Consultations serve to inform four primary areas of Environment Canada’s work, including program delivery, regulatory/legislative development, information delivery and policy development. In addition to its general consultations policy, Environment Canada is preparing a guide for consultations with Canada’s Aboriginal peoples that will be finalized through consultation.
There is also a growing body of literature and guidance to assist both government and the public in planning and participating effectively in consultations.
A Guide to Green Government
Developed by a multistakeholder committee, A Guide to Green Government helps the federal government departments and agencies prepare their sustainable development strategies. Signed by the Prime Minister and ministers of key federal departments, this Guide includes a 6-step approach to preparing a strategy that includes consultation with clients, partners and other stakeholders.
A Guide to Public Involvement
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA), a not-for-profit, independent, private sector organization, has published more than 1000 standards, approximately one-third of which have been referenced into law by provincial and federal authorities. The CSA established a multistakeholder technical committee to develop A Guide to Public Involvement which presents a decision-making framework for planning, implementing and evaluating a broad range of public consultation activities. The committee operated under consensus decision-making rules and the report was subject to a board peer review prior to publication in 1995.
Building Consensus for a Sustainable Future: Guiding Principles
The Canadian Round Tables of Canada developed Building Consensus for a Sustainable Future: Guiding Principles, to communicate their approach to involving the public in sustainable development and in consensus decision making.
North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation
The Joint Public Advisory Committee of the North American Commission for Environment Cooperation has proposed a Draft Framework for Public Participation that includes principles as well as practices to guide public consultation with the Parties. The Framework is intended to maximize public involvement to ensure open and effective dialogue and engagement among all elements of the public, and to establish a trinational network of diverse stakeholders that are interested in the CEC’s mission. The draft has been widely distributed for public comment and review and was presented to the Ministers’ Council for adoption.
Canada is a signatory to many international agreements that support and promote public involvement in environmental decision making.
(See Appendix B for further details regarding international initiatives on public participation.)
Key participants in environmental decision making exist within and outside government, domestically, regionally and internationally. Consultations can be bilateral (for example, between the federal government and a province, between a federal department and an industry representative, or between Canada and another country), multilateral (for example, among the NAFTA Parties), and multistakeholder (the NIS on Climate Change).
Within government, domestic consultations can occur at different stages and may involve a directorate within a single department, other government departments, or other jurisdictions.
Outside government, participants often include:
- the Canadian Environmental Network (CEN), a coordinating body for many environmental non-government organizations supported by Environment Canada;
- ENGOs not represented by the CEN;
- industry/business (both representatives of specific sectors and members of individual companies);
- the voluntary sector;
- youth (e.g. Youth Round Table on the Environment)
- communities (e.g. Sustainable Communities, Millennium Eco-Communities Initiatives)
- academics; and
The media also plays a role engaging Canadians and communicating the public’s views to Government and vice-versa.
Internationally, Canada’s participation continues to grow as it contributes to the consultations that shape issues from a global perspective.
"Citizens want a direct, substantive and influential role in shaping policies and decisions that affect them. They want to be heard. And they want a commitment that leaders will take citizens’ views into account when making decisions."
then Clerk of the Privy Council Office, 1998
The complex environmental issues we currently face require that decision makers be well informed of the range of concerns and interests surrounding the issues. Decision makers also need to understand the degree of public concern as well as the potential consequences of different decisions.
As involving the public has become standard practice for the Canadian government, a number of trends have emerged which further challenge how the public participates in environmental management decisions.
Increasingly, civil society expects to be involved in and to influence public policy. Increasingly, governments are responding with more opportunities for the public to become involved in defining the issues and their solutions. And, increasingly, the lines between domestic and international policy are blurring; complex horizontal issues related to sustainable development demand the involvement of local, national, regional and international interests.
Citizens expect government to be accountable for its decisions and actions. They also expect government to distinguish between informing the public and consulting the public on these decisions. More and more, citizens’ expectations for meaningful involvement are explicit. They want "assured listening" from the government, the knowledge that their views will be seriously considered. And they want to know what decisions the government ultimately makes, and the rationale behind whether their views were incorporated or not. In turn, government expects participants to make valuable contributions to the overall exchange of information and decision-making process. This can place heavy demands on representatives who are frequently consulted.
In his recent report on Canada’s environmental and sustainable development practices, the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development identified three significant weaknesses in consultation: participants in consultations were given limited feedback on what the government had heard and how their views had been reflected in the sustainable development strategies; there was limited co-ordination among departments which have complementary responsibilities; and there was limited involvement of senior managers. In response to the Commissioner’s recommendation for central guidance, the Privy Council Office has undertaken to establish consultation guidelines for the federal government. In parallel, the Treasury Board Secretariat, in its capacity to provide leadership through developing accountability frameworks and promoting best practices, will be preparing evaluation criteria for consultations in the year 2000.
Expectations regarding acceptable practices are also increasing with the number of guidebooks and policies being developed. In Canada and internationally (see Appendix B), numerous organizations are explicitly developing guidelines, policies and principles to shape public participation in environmental management regimes. Within the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, for example, Environment Canada has played a key role in revising the Guidelines for Submission on Enforcement Matters Under Articles 14 and 15 of the NAAEC to improve transparency and fairness of the public submission process.
There is a climate of deregulation in Canada; where practical, the government prefers to gain the cooperation and commitment of the public without imposing formal legislative and regulatory requirements. This approach has implications for how consultations are designed, the lengths of time participants need to reach agreement and ultimately, their commitment to take action.
A report on Environment Canada’s multistakeholder consultations in the mid-1990’s indicated that participants were experiencing "consultation fatigue" as result of the numerous consultation opportunities. A more recent survey adds weight to this, indicating that although a large percentage of the general public believes there should be increased emphasis on consultation, over three-quarters suggested that they neither have the time nor the knowledge to offer useful advice on complex issues.
In addition to the challenges inherent in engaging willing and able participants in consultations, once engaged, there is the challenge of reconciling diverse interests (environmental, economic, social-cultural and cross-cutting). And there is the ongoing requirement to allocate sufficient resources (technical and consultation expertise, time and finances) to ensure that the issues are adequately addressed. It is a challenge for both the public and government to set priorities and allocate resources for the most critical issues.
Associated with the need for adequate resources is the challenge of supporting a "level playing field" among participants whereby they have equitable opportunities to receive, understand and provide information to the consultation process. To promote equitable opportunities in the consultation process, government must find effective and economic ways in which to address differences among participants in areas such as technical expertise, language, geography and access to information.
The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution. This is in accordance with the principles that government information should be available to the public and that exception to this right should be limited. This Act applies to all issues, including the environment.
Specific to pollution prevention, there is a growing trend internationally by industry and government towards greater public disclosure of chemical releases and transfers. In Canada, the National Pollution Release Inventory (1992) is the only publicly accessible database of on-site releases to the environment of 249 substances of concern from facilities nationwide. Public disclosure of this information enables citizens and communities to take action regarding their concerns of risk to their health or environment.
The current government’s commitment described in Redbook II, Securing Our Future Together, included commitments to enhance the capacity of the voluntary sector. It is acting on this commitment and will be entering into a national accord with the voluntary sector, laying out a new foundation for an active partnership in the service of Canadians. It has also committed to actively engage young Canadian volunteers to participate in community and national environmental projects. Environment Canada has a history of cooperation with the voluntary sector through programs such as Weather Watchers, EcoAction 2000, and through wildlife programs which engage volunteers. In 2001, the voluntary sector will become a national focus, as an expression of Canada’s interest in the International Year of the Volunteer.
Domestically and internationally, the emerging role of "citizen engagement" is augmenting more commonly practiced strategies, such as the multistakeholder process. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently undertaken a two-year study of citizen engagement in which Canada will participate. The addition of technology to consultation has also changed the way government and civil society exchange views. The Internet and the World Wide Web are frequently used to exchange information and gather feedback from a broad range of interested parties. Videoconferencing plays a small role in bringing together participants from a wide geographic area for brief meetings. These new tools may provide additional opportunities to engage the public on the environment, and support more traditional consultation methods.
With the hundreds of consultations undertaken annually across Canada, there is a need to coordinate the participation and input of interested parties (both government and the public). The Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development highlighted this in his most recent report and will be setting expectations for improvement in this area. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with a distinct mandate in the North, is developing a Northern Sustainable Development Strategy to reflect the coordination and participation of relevant departments and to streamline the involvement of northerners in the consultation process.
Environment Canada has supported and endorsed A Guide to Public Involvement to promote effective consultations. This decision-making framework describes a step-wise approach to conducting a broad range of public involvement initiatives, all of which share the considerations outlined below.
Effective planning, implementation and evaluation of public participation in Canada’s environmental management regime are contingent on several key factors being addressed within the context of guiding principles. They include a clear purpose, preferred levels of agreement among participants, profile of participants, resources, implications of other initiatives, appropriate consultation tools and an evaluation of the process and outcomes of the consultation. The complexity of issues also has implications for how these plans unfold. In each consultation, the balance among these factors differs, and it is fair to say, there has yet to be the "perfect" public consultation.
The purpose for engaging the public and the level of desired agreement among participants are key to the overall consultation design. The purpose can range from a simple sharing of information to a complex partnership in which the government and interested publics jointly determine the issues and how to address them. They are generally characterized as:
- one-way communication; information only
- an exchange of views; no effort to reach agreement
- a sharing of values in an effort to understand interests, if not find common ground
- majority rule
- partial agreement with areas of diversity
- shared decision making leading to joint implementation/monitoring of agreements
- through community-driven initiatives, going beyond the decision-making authority of single organizations and/or level of government to guide voluntary actions.
Although government always reserves the right to make the final decisions, it is often advantageous to implement decisions that the key stakeholders determine is both desirable and practical to implement. As a science-based department, however, Environment Canada must anchor its decisions in sound scientific research while taking into account the public’s views.
It is important to know who is likely to participate in a consultation. The description of potentially interested parties and individuals helps government assess the range and level of concerns, as well as the capacity of participants to engage in consultation. For example, information, such as the participants’ current levels of interest and awareness, helps planners estimate the time required to share information and establish a common understanding of the issues.
Given the information above, it is necessary to consider what constitutes adequate resources to involve people in ways that support the overall purpose. In estimating resources, however, the costs of not consulting are also addressed. The public can delay or overturn decisions when concern is high and no opportunity for consultation is offered.
At any given time, there are many consultations underway at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. There can also be related international initiatives. Whether it is pending federal legislation or an international agreement with implications for domestic action, effective planning must take them into consideration.
In addition to the planning tools described above, there are numerous "tools" for involving the public, from town hall meetings to electronic discussion groups. Matching the appropriate tool, or mix of tools, to the overall consultation is essential.
Both cumulative and summative evaluations allow the opportunity to learn and make adjustments to subsequent consultations. Consultation plans are frequently altered based on the need to give people more time to respond, or because new information changes the scope of the discussions.
In Canada, the role of the public participation in environmental management is substantial and growing. Many citizens are explicitly articulating their expectations for meaningful and timely involvement in issues that affect them. The issues, themselves, are rarely discrete and require coordination among many interests and jurisdictions, often beyond domestic borders. And strategies for involving the public are under review for their effectiveness and efficiency.
Public involvement is, however, resource intensive. It takes an investment in building the capacity of government and the public to maximize the benefits of the consultation process. Although the costs can be substantial, the costs of not involving the public in issues of interest and concern can be costly in terms of delays, a lack of public support for implementing the decisions or a loss of public confidence in government. Through feedback, Environment Canada is aware of the need for continually improving its capacity to engage the public and to the changing role it plays in promoting and participating in decision making.
Within Canada’s democratic tradition, public participation continues to evolve. It is likely there will be a growing demand for using only the best "mix of tools" when involving the public in environmental management decisions and for demonstrating the value that the public brings to these decisions. Ultimately, the best indicator of successful public involvement will be the satisfaction that Canadians have with the state of the environment.
1 (Basic Law on the Environment) Published in the Official Gazette on March 9, 1994.
2 An Environmental Policy for Sustainable Development, CONAMA, January 1998.
- Date Modified: