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Policy Framework for Environmental Performance Agreements

Introduction

Environment Canada uses a range of tools to protect the environment, including regulations, guidelines, codes of practice, economic instruments, challenge programs and educational campaigns. Included in this toolbox are agreements with industry that commit certain sectors or companies to specific challenges or performance levels. While features vary, and their names differ, environmental agreements have become increasingly common in Europe, Japan, the United States and Canada.

Such agreements are possible where the parties involved share common objectives and each can derive benefits from addressing a particular environmental issue. On industry's part, interest may stem from the increased flexibility an agreement may allow in achieving an environmental objective, and the increased certainty that such an agreement can provide. Industry may also be interested in the opportunity to enhance its public image or to improve its relations with government. At the same time, Canadians can benefit by having government address an environmental problem and get comparable results at lower costs than by using conventional regulatory instruments. For government, ensuring that the environmental objectives will be met is a key consideration.

Non-government organizations and the public can also benefit from industry taking a more proactive approach to environmental protection, provided the approach is open to public participation and yields measurable and verifiable results.

These types of agreements can provide industry, government and the public with a consensus-building opportunity to establish environmental goals, identify a course of action, recognize achievement and agree to monitoring and consultation approaches that are mutually beneficial.

Environment Canada recognizes that the right circumstances are needed to ensure that environmental agreements meet their stated environmental objectives. Key elements are a credible process and design criteria that provide assurance of effective delivery of results. To reflect their results-based nature, Environment Canada calls these Environmental Performance Agreements.

To guide the development of future Environmental Performance Agreements, this policy framework:

  • describes Environmental Performance Agreements;
  • stipulates the core design criteria for agreements;
  • sets out Environment Canada's role in support of this policy; and
  • identifies the circumstances in which Environment Canada will consider entering into the agreements.