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Sustainable Development Strategy
NRCan’s experience with consultations on sustainable development has demonstrated that a meaningful dialogue with interested parties results in a credible strategy—which, in turn, results in commitments that make a valuable contribution to sustainable development. This dialogue also fosters a common understanding of the issues, as well as shared ownership of the strategy among all partners and stakeholders.
The Department released the discussion paper, Moving Forward on Sustainable Development, in June 2003. This paper served as the basis of the 2003 consultations. The paper set out a long-term vision and an outline of the priorities that the Department proposed to advance in support of the vision. The paper was intended to stimulate dialogue on the proposals and refine the priorities to be advanced through the Strategy. The consultations enabled the Department to ensure that the directions set out in the discussion paper were meaningful and relevant, addressing those challenges to sustainable development that stakeholders feel NRCan is positioned to address. The consultations also sought input on possible action commitments.
The Department was guided throughout the process of developing Moving Forward by an external advisory panel comprising representatives from industry, Aboriginal organizations, non-government organizations, academia, and other government departments. The advisory panel met several times and served as a ‘sounding board’ at each stage in the process, providing consistent and insightful guidance that complemented the series of meetings held with external stakeholders and staff. NRCan first convened this advisory panel in 2000 to guide the development of its 2001 Strategy. Several members were able to once again participate in 2003, ensuring continuity and enabling the Department to move up the learning curve.
External multi-stakeholder meetings were held in Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver; internal meetings were held with NRCan staff. A number of the external meetings were organized in conjunction with other federal departments. In particular, a meeting was scheduled in advance of the biannual Meet the North conference held in Edmonton (with Industry Canada), with participants from the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon. NRCan also participated in coordinated sessions in Atlantic Canada that were organized by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. NRCan was invited to participate along with Industry Canada, Environment Canada, and Public Works and Government Services Canada.
The Department also solicited written input to the strategy. A postcard was mailed to 1200 stakeholders to inform them about the discussion paper and invite them to fill out a questionnaire. As well, a letter and copy of the discussion paper were mailed out in advance of the meetings to interested stakeholders who had participated in the development of the 2001 Strategy.
The consultations revealed that NRCan—in order to develop a focussed strategy—would have to ask some hard questions and set a few essential priorities. To that end the discussion paper accomplished its goal, sparking provocative discussions about where NRCan should focus its efforts. The Department received meaningful feedback on the key issues that should be pursued for its third SDS, which is reflected in the issue summary presented in Section III of this document. We also received direction on the vision and key results that guide the strategy, including advice on where we should focus our efforts and what sort of results we should be trying to achieve. Finally, we received specific suggestions for action commitments.
The results of the consultations on Moving Forward have been summarized in the report What You Said 2003.