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ARCHIVED - Appendix 1: Departmental Mandate and Organization

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Sustainable Development Strategy
Moving Forward

Natural Resources Canada is an economic, science-based department with a mandate to: promote the sustainable development and responsible use of Canada’s mineral, energy, and forestry resources; develop an understanding of Canada’s landmass; and, collect and disseminate knowledge on sustainable resource development. The Department conducts research and technical surveys to assess Canada’s resources, including the geological structure and legal boundaries. NRCan is also authorized to provide the national framework of reference for spatial positioning; prepare and publish maps; conduct scientific and economic research related to the energy, forestry, mining and metallurgical industries; and to establish and operate scientific laboratories for these purposes.

Departmental Mandate

NRCan is responsible for federal resource policies, and science and technology that support the sustainable development and competitiveness of the energy, forest, minerals and metals sectors, and their allied industries. The Department enables the Government of Canada to address resource issues in a comprehensive manner, from a national perspective.

By legislation, the Minister of Natural Resources is responsible for:

  • Coordinating, promoting, recommending and implementing policies, programs and practices pertaining to the mandate of NRCan;
  • Fostering the integrated management and sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources;
  • Helping in the development and promotion of Canadian scientific and technological capabilities;
  • Gathering, compiling, analyzing, coordinating and disseminating information respecting scientific, technological, economic, industrial, managerial, marketing, and related activities and developments affecting Canada’s natural resources;
  • Participating in the development and application of codes and standards for spatial positioning and natural resource products, and for the management and use of natural resources;
  • Improving remote-sensing technology and promoting the development of the Canadian remote-sensing industry;
  • Encouraging the responsible development and use of Canada’s natural resources, and the competitiveness of Canada’s natural resource products;
  • Working to widen and promote markets for Canada’s natural resource products and geomatics industries, both at home and abroad; and,
  • Working in partnership with provincial/territorial governments and non-governmental organizations in Canada, and promoting cooperation among nations and international organizations.

Other Agencies

NRCan maintains a special relationship with agencies which report to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. These agencies include the National Energy Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (formerly Atomic Energy Control Board), Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the Energy Supplies Allocation Board, Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board and the Cape Breton Development Corporation. Specific consideration of these agencies is not included in the Sustainable Development Strategy of the Department.


NRCan is organized into six operational sectors, three branches, and the Office of the Chief Scientist.

The Corporate Policy and Portfolio Coordination Branch is NRCan’s centre for strategic policy leadership, expertise and advice for departmental and portfolio priorities, horizontal policy/science issues and initiatives, and sustainable development in Canada and internationally. It leads the development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy. The Communications and Audit and Evaluation branches, contribute to improved accountability as well as an increased understanding of NRCan’s mandate and programs among Canadians, clients and employees.

The Earth Sciences Sector is the Government of Canada’s principal agency for earth science knowledge and information. Geomatics Canada provides a reliable system of surveys, remotely sensed data as well as geographically referenced information describing the Canadian landmass; the Geological Survey of Canada is a principal contributor to a comprehensive geoscience knowledge base of Canada; and, the Polar Continental Shelf project contributes to scientific research in our Arctic regions by providing comprehensive logistics support.

The Canadian Forest Service promotes the sustainable development of Canada’s forests and the competitiveness of the Canadian forest sector for the well-being of present and future generations of Canadians. As the premier forestry S&T research and national policy coordination agency in Canada, the Canadian Forest Service plays a pivotal role in building consensus on key forest issues, in shaping the national and international forest agenda, and in generating and transfering knowledge through its Canada-wide world-class forestry research centres.

The Minerals and Metals Sector promotes the sustainable development of Canada’s minerals and metals resources industry by integrating economic, social and environmental objectives. It provides policy advice, S&T, as well as commodity and statistical information in support of decision making. It is also the federal government’s primary source of expertise on explosives regulations and technology.

The Energy Sector promotes the sustainable development and safe and efficient use of Canada’s energy resources through its policies, programs, and science and technology. It assesses the potential economic, regional, international and environmental implications of Canada’s energy production and use. It also provides technical knowledge and advice to the energy industry and to government. Its knowledge base helps the Government of Canada to formulate policies, implement regulations, enhance job and wealth creation, and meet its international commitments.

The Large Final Emitters Group is responsible for working with key industry sectors to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Climate Change Plan for Canada, by designing policies and measures that are effective in encouraging reductions and help to maintain the competitiveness of Canadian industry.

The Corporate Services Sector provides functional direction to the Department in the effective and efficient management of resources in the areas of finance, administration, human resources, information management/information technology, real property, safety and security, and environmental affairs.

Created in 2003, the Office of the Chief Scientist is responsible for positioning Natural Resources Canada as a leader in the performance of science and technology. The Office works closely with the departmental science sectors as well as other science-based departments and agencies, both nationally and internationally, to ensure the excellence and relevance of our laboratories and science programs. The Office of the Chief Scientist also oversees the NRCan On-Line Secretariat, which is enabling NRCan to deliver its programs and services to Canadians through the Internet.

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