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ARCHIVED - The role and fit of NRCan’s Sustainable Development Strategy

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Sustainable Development Strategy
Moving Forward


NRCan was the first federal department to enshrine sustainable development in its mandate and legislation, and was one of the first departments to have an environmental policy to guide its internal operations and procurement. As well, critical documents promoting sustainable development, such as the National Forest Strategy and the Minerals and Metals Policy of the Government of Canada, pre-date the preparation of departmental sustainable development strategies.

NRCan’s Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS) is a key tool for addressing the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities related to sustainable development through the Department’s policies, programs, science and technology, legislation, regulation and operations. It also serves as a companion piece to policies and strategies within NRCan’s operational sectors. The Department’s third strategy, Moving Forward, is formulated as a strategic planning document—a guidepost able to provide a unified, forward-thinking vision and articulate an organizational commitment to sustainable development that encompasses all of the Department’s diverse sectors and activities.

A Sustainable Forest

Canada’s forest-related interests, benefits and values have evolved and expanded over time. As a result, new knowledge and technologies, responsibilities and partnerships have emerged that constantly increase our understanding of Canada’s forest and how we, as citizens of a forest nation, relate to it. To keep pace with this change, we continue to deepen our knowledge about the forest.

Canada’s National Forest Strategy is a consensus document that guides Canadians in their ongoing work in sustainable forest management. It is for all Canadians to implement and it reconfirms the country’s collective commitment to work together towards the goal of a sustainable forest, nationwide. The new fifth National Forest Strategy (2003-2008), A Sustainable Forest: The Canadian Commitment was unveiled at Canada’s 9th National Forest Congress, held in May 2003.

Addressing federal sustainable development priorities

The Strategy also provides a linkage between the Department’s activities and the federal government-wide priorities for sustainable development: Sustainable Federal House in Order, the federal role on freshwater, and implementation of international commitments from the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

The Government of Canada recognizes that if it wants to inspire Canadians to work towards sustainable development, it must demonstrate leadership and commitment in its own operations. NRCan is the co-champion of Sustainable Federal House in Order, an initiative focussed on helping federal departments to integrate sustainable approaches and actions in their day-to-day activities. Current work towards a system for uniform measurement and collective reporting will effectively demonstrate the government’s progress on greening its operations. The activities described under the fourth key result of Moving Forward, NRCan demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development in its operations, represent the Department’s efforts to align its internal operations with the principles of sustainable development, and its contributions to government-wide initiatives.

Canadians place a very high priority on safeguarding the safety and quality of the nation’s water resources, particularly the freshwater resources that communities depend upon. Federal responsibility for water does not rest solely with NRCan but is shared among a number of departments. As the importance of safeguarding our water has risen as a national priority, it has become clear that a better focus and greater degree of coordination at the federal level is required. NRCan is working closely with other federal departments in developing a more strategic approach to addressing nationally significant freshwater issues. Our contribution is in supporting the development of innovative science and technology based solutions to water-related challenges across the natural resource sectors. This priority will also be reflected in NRCan’s work with communities both within Canada and around the world to improve their capacity to better manage their natural resources. Within Moving Forward, the NRCan actions in support of this priority are found under key results 1 and 3.

Canada’s sustainable development efforts at home must be situated in the context of our international obligations, foreign policy and trade initiatives, and development assistance activities, as well as within our economic, social and environmental policies and priorities. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), endorsed by Heads of State at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in South Africa in 2002, presents a significant opportunity for the federal government. Throughout its involvement in the WSSD proccess, Canada attached great importance to ensuring that the WSSD reaffirmed the centrality of effective, accountable governance to the achievement of sustainable development. For more information on NRCan’s involvement with WSSD, please refer to Appendix 4.

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