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Planning for a Sustainable Future:
A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada

Sustainable Development Office
Environment Canada

November 2013

Message from the Minister

Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic CouncilI am pleased to present to Canadians "Planning for a Sustainable Future: A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada 2013–2016". As Canada’s second Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, it builds on progress already achieved, further advancing our objectives of making environmental decision making more transparent and accountable and ensuring Canada is on a path to environmental sustainability.    

In 2010, the government took a decisive step toward greater transparency and accountability by tabling Canada’s first Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. It marked the beginning of a new sustainable development approach for the Government of Canada, making three key improvements over what was done in the past. It provided a whole-of-government view of federal actions to achieve environmental sustainability, linked sustainable development with core federal planning and reporting processes, and provided effective measurement, monitoring and reporting systems to ensure Canadians have the information they need to track the government’s environmental progress.

The second three-year Federal Sustainable Development Strategy builds on past achievements, providing long-term goals, medium-term targets, and concrete actions in four priority themes of importance to the government and Canadians: Addressing climate change and air quality, Maintaining water quality and availability, Protecting nature and Canadians, and Shrinking the environmental footprint – beginning with government.

Canada’s second Federal Sustainable Development Strategy updates and expands on what the first strategy presented in 2010. It reflects current policies and programs such as the Air Quality Management System and the government’s partnership with Alberta to conduct Joint Oil Sands Monitoring. It reflects federal actions to increase Canada’s resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change by including a target on climate change adaptation, an issue of particular significance to Canada’s North. It also includes a new target on sustainable agriculture, underscoring the importance of Canada’s working landscapes for protecting biodiversity and promoting sustainable development.

Stakeholder input has played an important role in shaping the 2013–2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. Canadians responded to the release of the strategy’s public consultation draft with valuable suggestions for strengthening it as well as comments reaffirming the importance of the environmental sustainability issues that we face. This final version of the strategy reflects public and stakeholder input by, for example, providing clearer, more measurable and more specific targets; providing more comprehensive coverage of environmental issues and government priorities; and clarifying the social and economic dimensions of the strategy’s environmental sustainability goals and targets.

Significant progress has been made since the 2010–2013 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy was released. Going forward, the government is committed to continuous improvement in our efforts to achieve environmental sustainability. Rigorous monitoring and reporting of progress over the course of this three-year cycle, along with feedback from Canadians, will drive further improvements in the next Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and beyond.

Minister's signature
Leona Aglukkaq

Minister of the Environment,
Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and
Minister for the Arctic Council

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