Executive Summary

This 2012 Progress Report of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) highlights the progress of 27 federal departments and agencies towards achieving the goals and targets set out in the first cycle of the FSDS (2010–2013). For parliamentarians and Canadians, it provides a whole-of-government picture of the actions the federal government has taken to support environmental sustainability and highlights what has been accomplished thus far.

This report looks at sustainable development through the lens of the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA), which requires that an FSDS be developed and implemented to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

The 2010 FSDS has improved transparency through stronger planning and reporting that provides:

  • An integrated, whole-of-government picture of actions and results to achieve environmental sustainability;
  • A link between sustainable development planning and reporting and the government's core expenditure planning and reporting system; and,
  • Effective measurement, monitoring and reporting to track and report to Canadians on progress made.

This report provides information on FSDS goals, targets and selected implementation strategies organized by four themes that represent key environmental priorities for Canadians:

  • Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality;
  • Maintaining Water Quality and Availability;
  • Protecting Nature; and,
  • Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government.

As the first progress report of its kind under the FSDA, this report is a key milestone showing, at a broad level, that the Government of Canada is making progress both towards greater transparency and towards the FSDS goals and targets.

This report also presents the most up-to-date information available using indicators from the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program. The information presented includes:

  • Trends over time, such as emission levels of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, the release of pollutants into water, and the sustainability of biological resources, such as wood supply;
  • Current measures of status, such as of major fish stocks, species at risk and availability of water; and,
  • Baselines that have recently been established to track progress in key areas, such as exposures to chemicals.

This report is part of a whole reporting system that provides a comprehensive picture of progress against the FSDS goals and targets. It highlights key actions from selected implementation strategies of FSDS departments and agencies, and directs readers to more detailed information available on departmental websites. Additional links direct the reader to indicator information from the CESI website. Together these provide the reader with the means to review how the federal government works towards environmental sustainability and where more information can be found in specific areas. Through this report and these linkages, the FSDS makes environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

In keeping with the approach of "plan-do-check-improve," this report also points to challenges and underscores the opportunities to further improve environmental sustainability. This is an important step as the Government of Canada develops the next cycle of the 2013–2016 FSDS and future progress reports.