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Sustainable Development Strategy
Sustainable development—often referred to as a journey, rather than a destination—is a process of change. NRCan has been engaged in this process of change for many years. Our understanding has evolved, from an initial focus that concentrated on balancing economic growth and environmental protection, to a more holistic vision of sustainable development that sees the interdependence of society, economy and environment. NRCan has articulated a vision of the future that reflects the opportunities and benefits inherent in sustainable development. The vision is the foundation for the Department’s Sustainable Development Strategy. It has been updated to reflect current thinking and priorities, and condensed to focus on the issues of greatest importance to Canadians that relate to sustainable development and Canada’s natural resources.
NRCan’s vision for a sustainable future
Canada’s resource sectors will forge new thinking, build alliances and invest in innovation to create the significant and essential transformations that will advance sustainable development. As a nation we will see dramatic increases in resource efficiency, advanced levels of corporate and consumer knowledge, growing commitment to social and environmental responsibility, and adoption of life-cycle approaches to resource development and use. These qualities will enable us to adapt efficiently to changing circumstances, effectively address environmental challenges that threaten sustainable development, compete successfully in the global marketplace, and generate continued social and economic benefits.
Canada will be recognized as a world-leading provider of innovative products, practices and technologies, and respected worldwide for stewardship of our natural resources. Natural Resources Canada’s leadership on sustainable development policy and practices, investment in research and development, and commitment to knowledge, capacity building, and science and technology will play a significant role in turning this vision into reality. We will work with stakeholders to ensure prosperity in Canada’s cities, rural areas and Aboriginal communitites, and with our global partners to advance sustainable development around the world—raising the quality of life at home and abroad.
Photo: Roberta Gal, Canadian Forest Service
This is not a vision that the Department has produced solely on its own. It is intended to complement and build on the Government of Canada vision for sustainable development, elaborating on the contribution of natural resources development and use to the sustainable development of Canada and the world. The vision also reflects the ideas and priorities of the stakeholders who contributed their time and energy to the consultations NRCan held leading up to the drafting of Moving Forward.
Neither is this a vision that NRCan can turn into reality on its own. Making sustainable development the Canadian way of life will require the support and participation of all levels of our society. For Canadian governments, sustainable development indicates the need for a long-term focus to enhance economic, social and environmental well-being; finding a balance between improving the quality of life for Canadians now and ensuring positive opportunities for the future. For individual Canadians, lifestyle choices such as household energy use, where we live and how we travel may have implications for sustainable development. Collective decisions made within a community regarding land use and infrastructure planning can be made to enhance the long-term quality of life of residents. Canadian business can make a positive contribution to sustainable development by taking a ‘triple bottom line’ approach to decision making—in other words, an approach that seeks to reconcile social, environmental and economic issues, priorities and goals in their operations, both in Canada and internationally.
NRCan’s vision may also be positioned as a complement to visioning and planning exercises undertaken by Canadian businesses, communities and other stakeholders in Canada’s resource sectors. There are many natural resources-based companies in Canada making it their priority to integrate the principles of sustainable development in their business practices and investment activities, at home and abroad, recognizing that this commitment can be a key competitive advantage in the international marketplace. There are Aboriginal communities planning their future as forest farming communities, communities creating new economic opportunities to allow them to be self-sustaining after the closure of a mining operation, and urban regions developing 20-year plans to improve the quality of life they offer.
NRCan’s role in turning vision into reality is in creating a state of affairs that encourages and facilitates the contribution of natural resources to sustainable development. Federal policy development, legislation and regulation are one part of this task. In partnership with other governments, academia and the private sector, NRCan will also continue to work on expanding the boundaries of our scientific knowledge, advancing new technologies, investing in the development of value-added processing opportunities, and integrating our information resources and making them widely available. All of this is part of creating an environment in which sustainable development will flourish.