Executive Summary

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Today’s natural resource stewardship challenges are larger and more complex than ever before. They are being shaped by powerful drivers of societal change in Canada and globally: regional and global economic integration; intensified international competition based on knowledge and innovation; climate change and adaptation; health, safety and national security imperatives; and perhaps most significantly, by advances in science and technology (S&T). At the same time, these drivers of change are opening up opportunities for Canadians to bring new ideas and innovations to the world for building a sustainable natural resource future.

Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan’s) S&T Strategy is based on a clear mission to help Canadians build a sustainable resource advantage through S&T excellence. Our S&T has always delivered a strong value proposition – NRCan S&T directly serves the public interest through the generation of reliable, credible knowledge that advances science and fosters innovation, informs public decision making and delivers tangible benefits to Canadians. This S&T Strategy renews the value proposition by setting out five S&T strategic objectives and identifying focused directions and actions for achieving them. It maps out how we will mobilize our S&T to deliver results for Canadians.

Under this S&T Strategy, NRCan will pursue five ambitious strategic objectives over the coming years. We will strive to be

  • a recognized source of world-class natural resource S&T
  • a champion for applying S&T for sustainable natural resource advantage
  • a leader in integrating S&T with policy and program decision making
  • a partner in understanding and addressing national and international natural resource issues through S&T
  • a trusted and effective communicator of NRCan’s S&T priorities, directions and performance

To realize NRCan’s S&T Strategy, five priority areas have been identified, each supported by a clear and strong set of actions for achieving results for Canadians:

  • NRCan’s S&T knowledge base
    Ensuring continued excellence in scientific, technological and economic research, development and related scientific activities through performing S&T at world-class levels of excellence; integrating our S&T knowledge base to meet 21st century opportunities and challenges; connecting our S&T knowledge base nationally and internationally; and applying and sharing our S&T knowledge base for greater positive impact.
  • S&T partnerships and collaboration
    Developing effective collaborative arrangements that bring the full capacity of the Canadian science and innovation system to bear on the issues and challenges of today and tomorrow in the natural resources sectors. Through national and international partnerships and collaboration, NRCan will expand Canada’s S&T capacity and enhance our place in the world.
  • World-class S&T capacity
    Supporting our S&T human resources, real property and other scientific assets through investing in our people; renewing our S&T infrastructure; and managing our S&T assets as a national resource.
  • S&T governance and accountability
    Meeting high standards of S&T governance and accountability by organizing ourselves for integrated S&T corporate decision making; increasing our agility and responsiveness through collective leadership; and enhancing NRCan leadership on national and international S&T priorities.
  • Public and stakeholder engagement
    Reaching out to and seeking the knowledge and perspectives of employees, stakeholders and other Canadians through pro-actively seeking and considering external advice; deploying new approaches and technologies for engaging NRCan employees, stakeholders and government leaders; and fostering the knowledge, interest and participation of the public in S&T and natural resource issues through active outreach to Canadians.

Implementation of the NRCan S&T Strategy will connect individual actions to broader pillars of NRCan management excellence, including people and funding capacity aligned with objectives; modern governance and accountability systems; supportive and integrative information systems;  and performance management and evaluation systems geared to meeting the expectations of Canadians.

NRCan’s S&T is a federal asset of enormous value and one of strategic importance in light of the increasing demand for S&T to inform decision making across many areas of public policy. It is a key lever for the department to achieve its three strategic outcomes of economic competitiveness, environmental responsibility, and safety, security and natural resource stewardship. This S&T Strategy, through its mission of S&T excellence, is a powerful and essential instrument for NRCan to improve the standard of living and quality of life of Canadians. Through significant technology development, scientific advancements and contributions to targeted and effective regulations, policies and programs, NRCan will help Canadians create a sustainable natural resource advantage.

Fuel of the future

NRCan has led the charge for Canada’s recognition as a world leader in gas hydrate science.

For the past two decades, NRCan, working with various partners in academia, industry and other governments, has led the development of new geophysical tools and methods to characterize gas hydrate occurrences and confirm the feasibility of gas hydrate production.

Gas hydrates – ice-like solids with gas molecules trapped inside – represent a potentially immense energy resource for Canada, one that is cleaner than oil or coal. There are vast reserves of this “fuel of the future” under Canada’s Arctic waters and beneath the permafrost in the Mackenzie-Beaufort region.

The United States has estimated there are enough gas hydrates beneath its Alaskan north slope to heat 100 million homes for 10 years. In Canada, the potential energy in gas hydrates in the Mackenzie-Beaufort region and the Arctic islands is estimated to be an order of magnitude greater than all Canadian conventional gas resources and could add decades to Canada’s gas supply at current rates of consumption.

NRCan is laying the forward-looking, scientific foundation that will allow responsible extraction of this resource. Already, NRCan, in collaboration with Japan and the Government of the Northwest Territories, can claim a world first that has yet to be equalled – a successful sustained drilling and gas hydrate extraction test in 2008 that proved it is feasible to produce natural gas from a permafrost gas hydrate deposit.

To be ready 20 years from now, when gas hydrates may make more economic sense, NRCan will continue carrying out its leading-edge geoscience – finding and measuring the resource and ensuring the extraction will be environmentally responsible – to help maintain and enhance Canada’s place in the volatile and highly competitive global energy market.

This gas hydrate work demonstrates the critical role NRCan geoscience plays in the discovery of new energy sources and the subsequent potential for the development of a sustainable economic base.


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