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NRCan's Six Priorities for Action
The previous section described the key public issues that will determine the realization of NRCan’s vision of a sustainable future. As an advocate for natural resources, NRCan has the ability to play a fundamental role in moving Canada towards a more sustainable future. However, our stakeholders have told us that we should not try to be all things to all people. There are specific areas within our realm of expertise where we have the capacity to make a difference – areas where we should consolidate our efforts.
NRCan is focusing on six themes to streamline and better coordinate our activities over the three year period of SDS – Now and for the Future, to best address these public priorities. The six themes, represented by icons, will appear throughout this document. The first three – corporate stewardship and accountability; knowledge and information; and leadership and partnerships – refer to ways we do business, while the last three – climate change; innovation; and sustainable communities – refer to specific ends that NRCan will help to address. As many of the actions reach across these thematic areas, some will be illustrated with more than one icon.
Corporate stewardship and accountability
If NRCan is to lead by example, it must “walk the talk” and manage itself in a responsible manner that respects the three pillars of sustainable development. For the Department to achieve its business and sustainable development goals, we must integrate environmental, economic and social growth opportunities into our day to day practices. We must also be held accountable – both to staff and stakeholders – for continuous improvements within the organization.
In both the public and private sector, those organizations that measure and evaluate the results of their work find that it builds support within and outside the organization. This over-arching theme permeates the way NRCan conducts its business and is integral to all aspects of the SDS.
Over the course of SDS – Now and for the Future, NRCan is committed to managing the Department through long-term considerations and ensuring that individuals understand the indicators or benchmarks by which our progress is measured.
Knowledge and information
As sustainable development depends on our individual and collective actions, there is a need to gather, produce, share and communicate knowledge and information with Canadians – of all ages and all walks of life – on the importance of sustainable development to our standard of living and quality of life. This applies equally to government officials, private sector developers, community planners or individual Canadian families. We all need to be aware of the consequences of our actions.
Canadians expect the federal government to play a leadership role in providing them with the knowledge they need. Given the importance of natural resources in our everyday decisions, NRCan must be able to create, share and communicate the knowledge and information Canadians require.
Leadership and partnerships
The road towards sustainable development requires collective action, but it also requires leadership driven by a vision, direction and specific actions – many of which need to be undertaken by the public sector. At the same time, it necessitates partnerships, as no single department, organization, company or individual can advance sustainable development in isolation.
Building upon our strengths and credibility with our stakeholders, NRCan is ready to engage partners involved in the production and consumption of natural resources with the opportunities sustainable development presents. NRCan will lead other federal departments, other governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, Aboriginal and community groups in the key areas that will advance sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources.
Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global climate change, Canada made an international commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to six percent below the 1990 level by the period 2008-2012. NRCan has primary responsibility for the domestic implementation of climate change initiatives. Our actions contribute towards the mitigation of climate change, as well as our ability to understand, predict and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Technologies developed to address climate change will provide both national and international benefit.
NRCan priority areas for action through to the end of 2003 will include: addressing market barriers to adopting energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies; enhancing access for individuals, companies and communities that wish to adopt these technologies; and, increasing our contributions to innovative technologies. Further, we will continue to provide Canadians with the education and information they need to understand the consequences of climate change on our planet and to make better informed decisions about their use of energy and actions to adapt to climate change.
Many Canadians increasingly regard innovation as a new national imperative to succeed in the global, knowledge-based economy. Governments and industries are recognizing that it is only through the generation of better ideas and the implementation of innovative products, services, and processes that Canada will be able to truly achieve its sustainable development goals. Governments have a unique role to play in providing the vision, coordination, knowledge and strong leadership needed to catalyze a more strategic approach to creating innovations to enable sustainable development within the natural resource sector.
NRCan’s approach to innovation will engage stakeholders and communities across all regions of Canada. Natural resource-based firms have identified insufficient R&D and related networks and shortages of highly skilled workers as principal barriers to innovation. The innovation policy framework of NRCan calls for: the creation and sharing of scientific research, developing skilled knowledge workers, support for commercialization, and business and market development assistance.
Canada’s overall innovation and sustainability record will be strengthened with resource sector solutions. The wealth of scientific and technical knowledge NRCan provides enables a strengthened stewardship of our natural resource endowment. The applications of innovative new ideas and technologies will yield economic, environmental, health and social benefits for all regions and will contribute to a higher quality of life for Canadians.
Sustainable communities are those which add value to natural resources and reap the rewards of this approach in terms of jobs and prosperity that continue for future generations. A sustainable community empowers itself to achieve a common vision for the future, and effectively responds to change through community based integrated decision making, increased resilience and economic self reliance, and sound environmental stewardship. Sustainable communities have the collective capacity to “get things done.”
Communities in Canada are experiencing change and are facing complex social, environmental and economic challenges. They are subject to the cyclical nature of commodity prices, the disappearance of traditional industries, environmental degradation, lack of access to technology, and changing demographics to name a few. In keeping with the philosophy that necessity is the mother of invention, these constraints can present unique opportunities. As communities capitalize on information networks, technologies and partnering possibilities, they are discovering the potential for new value-added industries, resource development, tourism, etc.
NRCan will work towards sustainable community development in a more comprehensive manner to enhance opportunities and cushion the changes that occur. Over the next three years we will strive to maintain Canada’s natural resource endowment while strengthening social capital, and we will increase local capability to benefit from the transition to a knowledge-based economy.