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Moving Forward: NRCan’s Contribution to Sustainable Development
At NRCan, sustainable development is not a passing trend – it is the way we do business.
We have committed to productive partnerships with industry, all levels of government, and non-government organizations, educational institutions, Aboriginal organizations and Canadian communities to build on our science and policy capacity to advance sustainable development. An ongoing dialogue with this broad stakeholder base has enabled an in-depth understanding of the most important issues to Canadians in all regions of the country.
NRCan contributes to sustainable development by undertaking scientific research and technology development; by providing information to Canadians; through policy research and development; by forming partnerships both within Canada’s borders and abroad; and, by leading by example.
For the first SDS, NRCan adopted a set of operating principles to guide its work in promoting the sustainable development of natural resources. Since then, NRCan has also worked with other government departments to develop a common set of principles for departments to respect in promoting sustainable development.
The following principles (described in more detail in Appendix B) will guide the Department’s work for this SDS:
- Accountability and transparency
- Partnerships and consultation
- Integrated decision-making
- Science and knowledge
- Anticipation and prevention
- Ecosystem integrity
- Efficient use of resources
- Continuous improvement and innovation
- Intergenerational equity
- Shared responsibility
- Setting an example
NRCan’s vision for the 21st century is grounded in the recognition that knowledge provides a wide range of sustainable development solutions.
Research and development lead to technological innovations that are essential to the growth of knowledge-intensive, value-added industries such as geomatics, cleaner technologies, next-generation recyclables, energy efficient products and services, lightweight materials for vehicles, alternative and renewable energy sources, as well as sustainable forestry practices.
NRCan works in partnership with industry to innovate and to generate growth in the resource sector. The Department also collaborates with the provinces, universities and the private sector to develop advanced technologies that reduce pressures on the environment, create highly-skilled jobs and contribute to sustainable development.
21st Century Challenges
Canada’s natural resources sector faces three critical public policy challenges: ensuring that resource development and use are sustainable; remaining internationally competitive in the increasingly knowledge-based and globalized economy; and maintaining an infrastructure and business climate that attracts investment in the natural resources sector. These three challenges exist within the context of the greater domestic and international challenge of meeting the Kyoto targets established in 1997. Policies, programs, legislation, regulations, taxes and spending, as well as consumer awareness, establish the context in which Canadians make sustainable development decisions. These policies need to represent and address the needs and interests of a broad range of Canadians.
NRCan develops regulations in areas such as energy efficiency and explosives, and works with other federal departments to develop focused environmental and health regulations and appropriate fiscal and tax policies affecting resources and resource policies. The Department also works with stakeholders and industry to develop voluntary approaches to sustainable development.
From industry’s perspective, policies need to reflect and be responsive to competitive realities in the global marketplace and strengthen the private sector’s ability to create jobs while it improves its environmental performance.
Highlights of NRCan’s first Sustainable Development Strategy
NRCan and its partners in the public, private and non-profit sectors implemented a number of successful initiatives that have made measurable progress towards sustainable development, including:
Delivered pilot Sustainable Communities Initiative to rural, aboriginal and remote
communities to enable communities to participate in land use and sustainable
- Advanced earth science expertise and technologies in Latin America, positioning Canada as a world leader in geomatics
- Promoted increased value-added processing of Canada’s minerals and metals
- Shared Canadian expertise in sustainable production, use and recycling of minerals and metals
- Provided forest fire managers and community leaders with information to save lives through the Fire Monitoring, Mapping and Modeling System
- Brought together aboriginal and community values to sustainably manage Canada’s forests
- Encouraged use of renewable energy through the launch of the Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative
- Updated Departmental Environmental Policy to improve the environmental management system
Resource management demands knowledge of the many interrelated factors that go into integrated decision-making – including information on soils, bedrock, wildlife, water, air, and climate. Resource managers need to be able to consolidate that knowledge to make informed decisions, including the socio-economic dimensions of resource development.
NRCan provides basic knowledge, information and technologies to address the social, economic and environmental aspects of development. Information programs encourage producers and consumers alike to consider the social, economic and environmental impacts during each phase of resource development and use. NRCan assists decision makers by providing conventional mapping and reports.
Increasingly, decision makers rely on the Internet to transfer high-quality scientific data to and from users. Partners and clients regularly access NRCan’s geoscientific databases this way, as well as from dedicated information centres in provincial facilities.
Canadian consumers also need access to this information to make appropriate judgments about their personal health and safety, the well-being of the environment and economic opportunities.
Many environmental issues transcend political boundaries. This reality, coupled with expanding global trade, is resulting in a greater emphasis on international cooperation. Canada works with other countries and international agencies to address global development issues and to ensure access to markets for Canadian natural resource products, technologies and services.
NRCan’s science and technology (S&T) activities support the development of universally accepted standards which help ensure Canadian natural resource products remain competitive. NRCan works with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, international agencies, provinces/territories, the private sector and other countries to address issues that affect the way Canada develops its natural resources.
Government has a key role to play in pursuit of a concept of progress that is based on the development of balanced social, environmental and economic well being. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an approach that places value in being a responsible and accountable member of a larger community, and is grounded in meaningful dialogue with the organization’s stakeholders and civil society. In a sense, CSR is fundamental in an organization’s pursuit of sustainable development.
NRCan works to set a high standard in its own operations, demonstrating that sustainable development is not only viable, but that it is advantageous. The Department seeks to continually improve the quality of working life and environment for its employees by conducting its business in a fiscally, environmentally and socially responsible manner.