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7. Engagement and communications approach

Engaging and communicating with stakeholders and partners throughout the three-year cycle of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) is an important means to achieving the transparency mandate of the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA). It also supports the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, Section 9: Consultation and Citizen Engagement.     

Based on the "Plan, do, check and improve" system outlined earlier, the government is committed to ensuring that each cycle of the FSDS builds on lessons learned, current best practices and the expertise of others. Accordingly, engagement plays an important role in the government’s commitment to considering stakeholder comments when planning and implementing the FSDS.

As mentioned previously in the Roles and Responsibility section, the Sustainable Development Office (SDO), in collaboration with Environment Canada's (EC) Communications Branch and other federal departments and agencies, leads the FSDS engagement approach.

7.1 Objectives of FSDS engagement

The SDO, with the support of all federal departments and agencies, undertakes a range of engagement activities, working towards providing information, building awareness and enhancing use of the FSDS amongst stakeholders. 

7.2 Target audiences and activities

Recognizing the importance of engagement and in accordance with the FSDA [section 9 (3)], the development of each new FSDS is informed by a 120-day public consultation period. The Minister of the Environment provides a draft of each new FSDS to the Commissioner of The Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD), the Sustainable Development Advisory Council (SDAC), parliamentarians and the Canadian public. In addition, the draft Strategy is provided to other key stakeholders such as other levels of government, Aboriginal groups, non-profit organizations, business and industry associations, and academia. The results of this engagement generate valuable feedback that informs the development and finalization of the FSDS, and is reported through a publicly-available Synthesis Report.   

Beyond the formal consultation period every three years, the SDO engages stakeholders on an ongoing basis by means of both web-based and traditional approaches. Activities include, for example, information and outreach sessions, and web and social media updates. The SDO will continue to proactively engage a range of stakeholders and partners as it implements the 2013–2016 FSDS and prepares the next draft FSDS, covering the 2016–2019 period.   

7.3 Strategic communications

Communicating about the FSDS, its progress reports, the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) and opportunities for public consultation are important for furthering the transparency and accountability of the Government of Canada’s environmental sustainability activities with stakeholders and the general public. The SDO, in collaboration with EC’s Communications Branch, leads communications activities for the FSDS. Related communications products and activities include:

  • maintaining the FSDS website;
  • maintaining a GCpedia site;
  • media releases; and
  • social media.

A strategic communications strategy is developed for each FSDS Strategy and Progress Report. The strategy includes such items as:

  • communications objectives and considerations;
  • analysis of public environment;
  • anticipated reaction;
  • storyline and core government messages;
  • announcement strategy;
  • supporting communications tools; 
  • evaluation methods; and
  • budget.


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