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ARCHIVED - Sustainable Development

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Sustainable Development Strategy 2007- 2009
Achieving Results

NRCan's contribution to sustainable development

NRCan is charged with the federal responsibility for ensuring the sustainable development of Canada’s energy resources, minerals and metals, and forests, and for providing the geographical and geological information base that supports decisions about Canada’s land-based and offshore resources. The federal role in natural resources complements the work of the provinces, which own and control much of Canada’s land and resources.

The Department of Natural Resources Act states that “in exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions assigned to the Minister ... the Minister shall have regard to the sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources and the integrated management thereof.” Fundamental to sustainable development is a common understanding that development is essential to satisfying human needs and improving quality of life, but that it must be based on the efficient and responsible use of natural, human and economic resources.

In advancing the mandate of the Department, NRCan contributes to sustainable development by:

  • conducting scientific research and developing leading-edge technologies to maximize social and economic benefits for Canadians and our global neighbours while minimizing environmental risks and impacts;
  • building national knowledge infrastructure about Canada’s geography and geology, including data on its natural resources on and below the land and beneath the sea floor;
  • providing ideas and information to support wise and efficient management and use of natural resources, reduce costs and create innovative products and services for the international marketplace;
  • working to enhance the contribution of natural resources to Canada’s economy and encouraging coordination among regulators, as NRCan and other federal regulators find better ways to regulate while protecting the health and safety of Canadians and the environment;
  • encouraging and facilitating how the natural resource sectors incorporate environmental, economic and social considerations into decision making through environmental and life-cycle assessments;and,
  • promoting Canada’s interests in areas affecting natural resources, through cooperation with international agencies and other nations, to meet our global commitments and to maintain access to world markets for Canadian products, technologies and services.

Through this work, NRCan is helping to build Canada’s reputation for sustainable development, and as a quality producer of innovative resource-related products, technologies, services and research. NRCan enables innovation in these areas by providing the coordination, knowledge, expertise and leadership required to accelerate progress on sustainable development—both at home and abroad.

Canada’s wealth of experience and expertise—including our ability to use and develop natural resources responsibly, to mitigate potential impacts from resource development, and to develop technologies that increase economic and environmental performance—can benefit resource managers worldwide. NRCan demonstrates its leadership internationally by sharing its state-of-the-art knowledge, best practices, and transferring technology to its global neighbours.

The natural resource sectors and the related disciplines NRCan works with to fulfil its mandate include energy, forestry, geography, geology, geomatics, minerals and metals, and the network of allied industries (such as ocean technology and geological consulting). NRCan also works with other federal departments and agencies, other levels of government, academic institutions, and non-government organizations and agencies, including Aboriginal, environmental and community organizations. Please refer to Appendix 1 for more information about the Department’s mandate and organization.

Roles and responsibilities for natural resources in Canada


  • Resource ownership on federal lands and in offshore areas managed by the federal government
  • National economic policies and taxation
  • International and inter-provincial and territorial relations and agreements
  • Trade (international and inter-provincial)
  • Northern Canada, federal lands, sea coast and inland fisheries
  • Aboriginal land claims and settlements
  • Wildlife (species at risk, migratory birds, fisheries habitat and oceans)
  • National statistics
  • Science and technology (in the national interest) and related science activities such as research, monitoring and guideline development
  • Resource assessments
  • Technical surveys
  • Environmental impact assessments
  • Reporting and informing (outreach and communications)
  • Environmental protection (international and inter-provincial)
  • Nuclear energy policy, research and regulation
  • National parks
  • Building national consensus
  • National knowledge infrastructure
  • Support disaster mitigation and emergency response activities


  • Land stewardship
  • Exercising land claims and resource rights
  • Traditional knowledge (in the national interest)
  • Input and collaboration to affect decision-making


  • Economic policies and taxation
  • Land-use planning and allocation
  • Resource ownership and royalties
  • Resource management (regulation and licensing, allocation and conservation, protection)
  • Aboriginal land claims
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Parks
  • Environmental protection
  • Science and technology
  • Developing and enforcing standards
  • Statistics and resource inventories

* Differences between Provincial and Territorial roles are influenced by differing legislative powers.


  • Infrastructure, land use planning and standard-setting
  • Pollution prevention and waste management
  • Consultation and collaboration with the community
  • Drinking water supply and quality
  • Management of wastewater


  • Advocacy and raising awareness
  • Ensuring government accountability
  • Coordination and collaboration
  • Mobilizing the public—community engagement

Private Sector

  • Investment
  • Payment of taxes and royalties
  • Operational resource management and planning
  • Resource exploration, extraction and harvesting
  • Resource processing and manufacturing
  • Pollution prevention and waste management
  • Product development and marketing
  • Research and development
  • Private land stewardship

General Public

  • Social values
  • Input into decision-making
  • Consumer choices and purchasing
  • Political choices and advocacy
  • Investment
  • Recreation
  • Private land stewardship

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