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7: Risk management strategy

A risk assessment assists managers in identifying and analysing risks to meeting the requirements of the Act. Undertaking this type of analysis provides a selection of identified risk events, in both the external and internal environments, and outlines possible consequences of that risk should it occur. Once risks and mitigations/controls to address them are identified, EC (and in some cases, other government departments/agencies) monitors these risks and takes corrective action as needed. As part of an ongoing exercise, a new risk assessment will be undertaken for each new FSDS.

The FSDS Risk Assessment was completed using Environment Canada methodology: “Integrated Risk Management Toolkit – Risk Taxonomy, Risk Template Development Guide, Risk Template”. The Risk Assessment was led by the EC’s Sustainable Development Office and included representatives from departments and agencies bound by the FSDS who expressed interest in developing the FSDS Management Framework. The risks were identified by the Risk Management Working Group (sub-group of Director-level working group) and scored based on likelihood of the risk occurring and impact of each risk should it occur.

Taking into account the mitigation strategies that are in place--the distinction between inherent risk and residual risk--the scoring for evaluating the likelihood of the risk occurring ranged from rare to almost certain. The scoring for evaluating the impact of each risk event ranged from low to very high. Complete descriptions of each of the rating criteria are found in Appendix 6.

The Risk Profile for the FSDS 2010–2013 outlines each of the risks identified by the working group and how they were rated during the risk evaluation. A summary of the ratings for each risk is found in the EC Risk Matrix.

Environment Canada Risk Matrix

Environment Canada Risk Matrix diagram. Click to enlarge.

Long description

The image is a risk matrix showing how FSDS risks were rated during the risk evaluation, which considered consequences (i.e. impact) should the risk occur and probability of risk occurring (i.e. likelihood). The 2010–2013 FSDS risk matrix identified moderate risks, but no low, high or very high risk events.

The risk assessment process identified moderate risks, but no low, high or very high risk events. Additional mitigations and controls for moderate risks were identified and will be re-evaluated at least every three years or for each new FSDS. Five of the identified risks is provided in the summary table below. All risks are outlined in more detail in the Risk Management Framework document developed by the Sustainable Development Office.

Table 2: Moderate-level risks and their respective mitigations/controls
  Risk for which management and monitoring is requiredSuggested additional management / mitigation measuresLikelihood scoreImpact score
External environmentStakeholder engagement and partners1. There is a risk that stakeholders may have expectations that exceed the purpose of the FSDS.

Perform a gap analysis which is more thorough, and occurring earlier in the FSDS drafting process, prior to public consultation.

Focus the messaging surrounding the FSDS on the inherent limitations of a federal approach and how managing for sustainability also falls within provincial / territorial roles; the Federal approach falls within its capabilities and success should be measured by performance on goals and targets.

Internal environmentGovernance and strategic2. There is a risk that there are inadequate or inappropriate plans and strategies to achieve the FSDS goals and targets or meet the requirements of the Act.

Provide results at DG and ADM committee meetings on how departments are supporting the FSDS.

Keep PCO, Finance and TBS engaged in sustainable development issues.

Communication3. There is a risk that messaging concerning the FSDS and Progress Reports results in negative re-action/feedback from stakeholders.

Focus messaging to ensure the FSDS and Progress Report clearly state that the purpose is transparency and accountability of environmental decision making and welcome constructive criticism.

Monitoring this risk:  monitor media stories and the results of CESDaudits to identify any additional mitigation controls.

Financial management4. There is a risk that fiscal constraints impact the ability of departments to pursue, monitor and report on progress on the goals, targets and implementation strategies.

Link cost savings to meeting targets in the messaging provided to OGDs.

Provide a copy of the EClegal opinion on the Act to OGDs

Human resources5. There is a risk that departments have insufficient human resource capacity to meet the evolving research, program or service delivery requirements of the FSDS.Remain in close contact with OGD’s Sustainable Development units to offer guidance. 2.12.1

Note: For additional details see Risk Management Framework document

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