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Environment Canada's Science Plan

What Do We Want to Achieve?

The Mission for Environment Canada's Science

The Mission

The Science Plan sets out the following mission for Environment Canada's science:

To deliver the high-quality knowledge, information and data that enable the Minister, the Government, the Department and other decision makers to enhance the health and safety of Canadians, protect the quality of the natural environment, and advance Canada's long-term competitiveness.

The Role and Principles of Federal Science

The mission for Environment Canada's science is founded on the core roles and principles of federal science as established under the Framework for Federal Science and Technology.1

The essential character of federal science is science for the public good. That is, it must focus on protecting and advancing Canada's public interests. The Framework identifies four core roles for federal science:

  • Support for decision making, policy development and regulation;
  • Development and management of federal and international standards;
  • Support for health, safety and security, and environmental needs; and
  • Enabling economic and social development.

High-quality, relevant and accessible science undertaken by Environment Canada contributes to all four of these roles. Environment Canada's scientific professionals provide highly credible data and knowledge needed in policies, regulations, enforcement, and federal and international codes and standards. They conduct R&D to better understand important ongoing and emerging problems in wildlife, biodiversity, water, air, soil, climate, environmental prediction science and environmental technologies. They undertake environmental monitoring to understand what is changing and to detect and evaluate emerging threats. And they provide essential services that safeguard human health and safety, security and environmental quality.

Science includes both research and development and other scientific activities. It is the use of investigative, analytical and experimental methods to measure, assess, interpret, predict and respond to changes in environmental parameters and processes, indicators of environmental health, and human interactions with the environment, using physical, chemical and biological principles.

Environment Canada's science -- like all federal science activities -- is founded on three principles established under the federal S&T Framework:


Federal S&T must reflect and support the priorities of Canadians

Under this principle, our scientific activities must be designed and undertaken to advance our departmental mandate and the broader priorities of the Government. We must be prepared to adjust these activities when needed to remain focussed on issues of concern to Canadians, while continuing to meet our ongoing and long-term commitments. We also must understand the priorities of Canadians and the full range of demand for Environment Canada's science. Other governments, Aboriginal peoples, communities, citizens and industry use the results and products of our science to help them understand the factors affecting their health, safety, livelihood and environment. To better serve these users, the Department must work to understand what they need, and whether it is the most appropriate science provider to respond to those needs.

More broadly, the Department has a leadership role to play on this issue, ensuring that national capacity iin environmental science is directed toward national priorities.


Federal S&T must be built on effective, collaborative relationships

Environment Canada's science cannot achieve its mission in isolation. Solutions to many complex, global environmental problems must involve the scientific community across disciplines and outside departmental and government boundaries.

Scientist measures eggs in nest. Photo: Julie Suzanne Pollock
For 25 years, colonial waterbird biologists from the Great Lakes area have met in two working groups to discuss the past year's research findings on this group of birds. In autumn of 2006, 26 researchers convened the 25th annual meeting of the Great Lakes Area Colonial Waterbird Working Group, representing at least 12 different agencies from Canada and the United States. A new working group was also established, the Western Great Lakes Colonial Waterbird Working Group, including 25 researchers from 15 different agencies.

For Environment Canada, the principle of linkages requires building strong and sustained collaborative relationships to foster better integration of science across the federal government. It involves working with researchers and scientific groups within Canada and internationally in universities and colleges, industry, civil society, the granting councils and funding programs. It means finding ways to work more efficiently together through colocation of facilities, shared financial resources, training opportunities, adjunct professorships and international cooperative agreements. And it means maintaining effective relationships between science and those who need the results of our work: policy makers, regulators, service providers, citizens and others -- communicating our knowledge and advice in language they can understand and use.


Federal S&T must incorporate the highest standards of excellence

Environment Canada must produce the highest-quality, leading-edge, credible and unbiased environmental science relevant to support sound policies, effective regulations and informed decision making. We must promote innovation and encourage creative options for addressing a wide range of environmental challenges. Above all, we must demonstrate transparency and openness in how we conduct our scientific activities, adhering to scientific principles and continuing to use proven quality assurance methods such as international standards, peer review and expert external advice.

1 Interdepartmental Working Group on Federal Science and Technology Framework. 2005. In the Service of Canadians: A Framework for Federal Science and Technology. Industry Canada, Government of Canada, Ottawa.

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