ARCHIVED - Sustainable Development

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Report on Plans and Priorities 2011-2012
Electronic Layer of Reporting
Elements of NRCan's Sustainable Development Strategy

Section 2 - Departmental Decision-making and Sustainable Development

Managing Sustainable Development

Context of Sustainable Development at NRCan

NRCan’s vision is to improve the quality of life of Canadians by creating a sustainable resource advantage. It seeks to achieve this vision by developing policies, programs, and regulations to strengthen the conditions for sustainable, resource-led growth in the energy, mining and forestry sectors.

NRCan recognizes that a sustainable development path must be embraced as an opportunity, not as a cost.  In step with the changing global context, NRCan is reshaping how it fulfills its core federal roles to contribute more effectively to competitiveness imperatives and position Canada as a new kind of global resource leader. NRCan is working to support the sustainable development of Canada’s resources in a manner that advances the country’s standing as a leader on the environment. Going forward, NRCan will strive to lead the integration of sustainability and competitiveness for the long-term benefit of Canadians.

Natural Resources Canada’s Strategic Framework

In 2006, NRCan embarked on a comprehensive renewal exercise that culminated in the publication the NRCan’s Strategic Framework. The objective of the Strategic Framework is to create an integrated, knowledge-based and results-oriented organization to be achieved through a "one department" approach to planning and reporting, collective leadership, and innovative collaboration and information sharing across the department and with stakeholders in pursuit of common goals.

Figure 1 : NRCan Strategic Framework
Empowering Ideas: Creating a Sustainable Resources Advantage

The Strategic Framework situates sustainable development as a core value and a working principle.  It is prominent in the vision statement - improving the quality of life of Canadians by creating a sustainable resource advantage - and is also reflected in the three strategic outcomes of economic development, environmental responsibility and safety, security and governance. Furthermore, sustainable development defines one of three NRCan mission statements - to become a Champion of Sustainable Development. NRCan is setting out to achieve this mission by applying sustainable development as a core value and major lens on everything we do as a department - always making sure that our actions recognize and reflect the interaction between our economic, environmental and social interests

NRCan’s Strategic Framework establishes a visionary approach for Canada and NRCan within an evolving global context for the 21st century. It re-orients Canada’s approach to natural resources management by integrating innovation and knowledge with sustainability for long-term competitiveness and economic prosperity. Finally, it seeks to create a sustainable resource advantage through collective action, with NRCan leading the way.

Integrating SD into Decision-Making at NRCan

Governance Mechanisms

NRCan’s corporate governance structure is core to delivering on its strategic outcomes and succeeding in its business strategy. The governance structure comprises executive and advisory committees that enable and support collective leadership and integrated management of policy, programs and finances. Together these committees aim to fulfill NRCan’s Strategic Framework and emphasize the importance of sustainable development.

NRCan's senior management policy committees are an example of how the department integrates sustainable development principles into internal policy and operational mechanisms. They ensure that departmental policy decisions are grounded by science and sustainable development, and that science performed is responsive to policy priorities and also supports sustainable development.

The Executive Committee is the senior-most deliberative and decision-making committee of the Department, ensuring policy, science, program and corporate integration. The Committee establishes the Department’s directions, priorities, and policy approach.

The following committees, structured around specific functions, provide direct support to the Executive Committee in operationalizing the collective leadership and sustainable development principles outlined in the Strategic Framework:

  • Business Transformation Committee: Chaired by the Associate Deputy Minister, leads and manages the Department’s programs and business processes with a view to enhance the utilization of human, financial, IM/IT and real property resources and to improve the capacity and responsiveness of NRCan to meet its strategic outcomes.
  • Policy and Science Integration Committee: Chaired by the ADM, Science and Policy Integration, reviews policy and science proposals to ensure policy and science integration and consistency with the Department’s longer-term policy agenda.
  • Science and Technology Board: Chaired by the Deputy Minister, will be launched in the Spring of 2011, with internal and external members to provide senior leadership for an integrated approach to the ongoing management of NRCan's S&T capacity and ensure alignment with NRCan's strategic outcomes and policy agenda.

Furthermore, management teams in each of NRCan’s setors (e.g. forestry, energy, mineral and metals, etc.) also view the Strategic Framework as an important tool in developing their strategic plans and orient their day-to day activities. By applying the Strategic Framework, sectors ensure that sustainable development forms the basis for strategic discussions, informs program direction and is one of the criteria used in the evaluations of many programs.

Interdepartmental Fora Related to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy
  •  The Interdepartmental Assistant Deputy Minister Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (ADM FSDS) Committee is chaired by Environment Canada’s (EC) ADM of Strategic Policy. The mandate of the ADM FSDS Committee is to provide strategic direction, and make decisions on key issues associated with the implementation of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
  • The Interdepartmental Director General FSDS Committee is, chaired by EC’s Director General of the Sustainability Directorate. This Committee provides operational direction and guidance and discusses key issues concerning the implementation of the FSDA and the development of goals, targets and implementation strategies for future FSDSs.
  • The Director-level Working Group on the Assessment of the FSDS is chaired by the director of the Sustainability Directorate. The purpose of the Working Group is to identify gaps and vulnerabilities in the FSDS, identify best practices and lessons learned, provide and refine guidance to departments, and refine approaches used to develop, implement and evaluate the FSDS. The Working Group is also responsible for the development of the FSDS Management Framework and the FSDS Progress Reports.

Application of specific tools

NRCan employs a number of tools to integrate SD considerations in policy development:

Business Planning

In 2010, NRCan published its first Integrated Business Plan (IBP). The IBP is based on NRCan’s Program Activity Architecture which is structured around three sustainable development-related outcomes: Economic Competitiveness, Environmental Responsibility, and Safety, Security and Stewardship. The IBP shows how the department integrates its programs, activities, and resources to deliver on its vision to create a sustainable resource advantage to Canadians.

Along with implicitly integrating sustainable development into the planning process, NRCan, consistent with its Strategic Review, is focusing on a competitiveness approach that is premised on the fact that sustainable growth can only be achieved through environmental and social responsibility.  As a result, senior managers are challenged to reflect on and showcase linkages between competitiveness and sustainability as part of the integrated planning process.

Environmental Scan

The department undertakes an annual environmental scan which provides external trends relevant to NRCan. The trends identified in the scan are for the most part, global with specific implications for Canada highlighted. The environmental scan informs and supports integration of sustainable development considerations into decision-making throughout the department. PSMC uses the environmental scan as the basis to stimulate discussions on the department’s challenges, opportunities and future directions.

New Engagement Policy

Sustainable development recognizes that stakeholder participation is key to assessing environmental and social values and integrating them into decision-making. Consequently, NRCan is building departmental capacity for sustainable development decision-making by developing a Public Consultation and Engagement Policy and related tools. These will foster inclusive, transparent, and effective public consultation/engagement practices and culture, and will strengthen stakeholder consultation and engagement initiatives ensuring departmental policy and program decisions are informed by sound and credible external input. By providing guidance and tools, and setting our roles and responsibilities, the policy will ensure a more strategic use of stakeholder knowledge and expertise through consultation and engagement to drive policy and program development and enhance sustainable development considerations in decision-making at NRCan.

Memoranda to Cabinet

The department’s “Guidelines for the Development of Memoranda to Cabinet” identifies the Strategic Framework as a key tool for positioning proposals. This ensures that sustainable development is a fundamental consideration in all decisions sought by NRCan’s Minister at cabinet.