In June 2008, the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA) was proclaimed. The purpose of the Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that will make environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The Act requires the development of a federal sustainable development strategy (FSDS) and a report on progress at least every three years.
The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) 2010–2013, tabled on October 6, 2010, clearly articulates the Government of Canada’s long-term goals and targets, including its plans for reducing the federal government’s environmental footprint. The FSDS raises the profile of environmental issues in the federal government priority setting and decision making, firmly placing these issues on the same footing as the country’s economic and social priorities.
Through the FSDS and the triennial progress reports, parliamentarians and Canadians will have a clear understanding of planned actions and progress related to environmental sustainability, thus driving change over time through the “plan, do, check, improve” cycle. The FSDS fulfils the requirements of the Act through three key improvements that render environmental decision making more transparent and accountable:
As required under the Act, and in support of the FSDS, annual departmental sustainable development strategies (DSDSs) are prepared to report on those portions of the FSDS that have specific implications for each respective department. The 2011–2012 fiscal year is the first one in which departmental reports on plans and priorities will also constitute the departmental sustainable development strategies. These DSDSs are prepared to ensure proper management and accountability in terms of sustainable development.
The Minister of Environment Canada has two major responsibilities regarding the FSDA.
First, the Act requires the Minister to
Second, as with all other Ministers of departments and agencies subject to the FSDS, the Minister of the Environment is responsible for developing Environment Canada’s own Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy.
The Sustainable Development Office is located within Environment Canada. It establishes the systems and procedures necessary to monitor progress and drives strong engagement across all departments. This is the first cycle of departmental sustainable development strategies under the FSDA. Environment Canada is committed to continuous improvement as more experience is gained. The Department will be looking for opportunities to improve both its own strategy and to assist other departments as all gain more experience with this new approach.
This document is focused on the Minister’s second responsibility: Environment Canada’s own departmental sustainable development strategy. The delivery of sustainable development in Environment Canada is organized around the three principal strategic outcomes of the Department’s Program Activity Architecture (PAA):