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8. Reporting strategy

Reporting is central to meeting the transparency and accountability objectives of the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA) and informs the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) "Plan, do, check and improve" system. Actions taken and progress made against FSDS goals and targets by the Government of Canada are presented in several ways. Progress against goals and targets and actions taken by the government are reported in Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies (DSDS) and in FSDS progress reports. 

Table 3 provides an overview of the planning and reporting mechanisms related to the FSDS.   

Table 3: FSDS planning and reporting mechanisms
Planning and reporting mechanismFSDSFSDS Progress ReportsDSDSs
TimingEvery three yearsWithin three years of FSDA enactment and at least every three years thereafterAnnual (since 2011)
Lead agencySustainable Development Office (SDO) (Environment Canada (EC))SDO (EC)Departments/
Agencies
Office of Greening Government Operations (Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC))Office of Greening Government Operations (PWGSC)
Level of detailGoals
Targets
Implementation Strategies
Goal and Target Indicators
Selected Implementation Strategies and Performance Indicators
Target Indicators
Implementation Strategies Performance Metrics

8.1 FSDS Progress Report

Progress reports are required to be presented to the Minister of the Environment at least once every three years [FSDA, 7(2)]. The Minister tables the Progress Report on the federal government’s progress in implementing the FSDS, in both Houses of Parliament [FSDA, 7(2)]. 

The first FSDS Progress Report was published in 2011 and focused on the process and actions taken to implement the FSDS. The second Progress Report was released in 2013 and highlighted actions taken by the Government of Canada and the progress made towards achieving the goals and targets set out in the 2010–2013 FSDS.  Subsequent progress reports will continue to document the progress by the federal government towards the FSDS goals and targets.

As required by the Auditor General Act (AGA), the Commissioner of The Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) assesses the fairness of the information contained in FSDS progress reports with respect to the progress of the federal government in implementing the FSDS and meeting its targets. Environmental and performance indicators are used to measure progress in achieving FSDS goals and targets.
   
The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program is the primary vehicle for tracking and measuring progress toward the FSDS Theme I–III goals and targets, and for providing context with respect to socio-economic linkages to environmental issues. CESI works with government departments and agencies to provide comprehensive information on environmental state and trends. Four criteria are considered in the selection of these indicators:

  • policy relevance: represents the FSDS goals and targets;
  • utility: meets the needs of decision-makers and the public;
  • soundness: provides consistent and solid methodology, comparable over time; and
  • data availability: uses existing high-quality data with adequate coverage. 

CESI are updated regularly on EC’s website. The indicators reported in relation to FSDS goals and targets are updated at minimum once every three years through the progress reports. Departmental performance indicators are used to track progress towards completion of their respective implementation strategies.

For "FSDS Theme IV", common and consistent performance measures have been developed for use by each FSDS department and agency to report annually, allowing for aggregation of government-wide greening government operations efforts.    

To support departments and agencies, PWGSC has developed the Guideline to Reporting in the Greening Government Operations (GGO) Supplementary Table, which provides guidance on the completion of the GGO Supplementary Table in annual Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs) and Departmental Performance Reports (DPRs).

As some of the Theme IV targets require departments and agencies to develop departmental targets and performance measures, PWGSC has also developed a series of target-specific guidelines that relate to the establishment, scoping and implementation of departmental FSDS GGO targets. These guidelines assist departments and agencies in developing targets that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.   

8.2 Reporting on Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies

Under the FSDA, [11 (1) (2)], departments and agencies are required to develop a DSDS containing objectives and plans for the department or agency that comply with and contribute to the FSDS.    

Under guidance from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), with input from SDO, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) and PWGSC, departments report on their DSDS through their annual reporting on departmental plans and performance. This integration of environmental sustainability within the annual cycles of reporting on departmental plans and performance provides for a coherent year-over-year view of the progress of DSDSs and for consistency with reporting on departmental activities.   

8.3 Reporting on Strategic Environmental Assessment

The application of the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals contributes to the transparency objectives of the FSDA when Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) public statements are released and reported in DPRs. SEAs also support the implementation of the FSDS through the requirement for the consideration of potential impacts on FSDS goals and targets.   

Departmental SEA reporting requirements include:

  • Releasing public statements of SEAs where policies, plans or programs have been approved or announced (including impacts on FSDS goals and targets); and
  • Reporting on the extent and results of SEA practices in departmental performance reporting.


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