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Respecting Canada’s sustainable development commitments

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Aligning our strategy with domestic and international commitments

In September 2015, United Nations Member States, including Canada, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) apply to all countries and balance the 3 dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic, and environmental. The pledge to leave no one behind, and to reach the furthest behind first, is central to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

For the first time, the draft 2022 to 2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy is organized around the 17 SDGs, with a focus on their environmental aspects. This new frame will enable the strategy to foster coordinated action across government, focus on sustainable development decision making and respect Canada’s domestic and international obligations related to sustainable development. It also addresses recommendations from the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development resulting from their 2016 review of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, reviews by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and comments from Canadians, who recognize the importance and value of the SDGs.

The draft 2022 to 2026 strategy supports Moving Forward Together: Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy by focusing primarily on federal action to advance the environmental aspects of the SDGs. Structuring the strategy around the 17 SDGs will ensure there is a common frame for sustainable development in Canada, both at the federal and whole-of-society levels.

Wherever possible, targets and indicators in the draft 2022 to 2026 strategy align with the Canadian Indicator Framework for the 2030 Agenda to promote policy coherence and transparency. To help guide the environmental aspects of the social and economic-focused SDGs, the Global Indicator Framework was also consulted. Annex 2 of the draft strategy, which sets out the indicators that will be used to measure progress toward the goals and targets, identifies indicators which also appear in the Canadian Indicator Framework.

By focusing on the environmental aspects of the SDGs, the draft strategy highlights the environment as a critical component of sustainable development in the context of the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and other urgent environmental challenges facing Canada and the world. It also shows how environmental issues interact with economic and social issues such as poverty, education and gender equality. In keeping with the broadened focus of the strengthened Federal Sustainable Development Act, the draft strategy addresses themes that cut across the environmental aspects of social and economic SDGs, such as supporting sustainable food production, enhancing food security in Indigenous and northern communities, promoting gender equality in the clean technology sector, and financing low-carbon, climate-resilient development in low and middle-income countries.

While actions in the draft 2022 to 2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy show what the federal government is doing to support environmental aspects of the SDGs, relevant departments and agencies are also taking action to implement Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy.

Moving Forward Together: Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy

Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy sets out an approach to accelerate progress toward meeting the SDGs in Canada and contributing to their achievement internationally. Led by Employment and Social Development Canada, the strategy promotes a whole-of-society effort to achieving the SDGs. It also sets out a national vision to help build the world envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy is about building an environment that enables everyone and every sector of Canadian society to see how they can be part of achieving the SDGs, and then act in ways that are right for them. It aims to reflect the diversity of experiences, knowledge, strengths and resources of Canada. It seeks to meaningfully engage people and groups, with special attention to those facing systemic barriers—and then drive progress through collaborations for greater impacts.

The Government of Canada will report annually to Canadians on progress toward implementing the 2030 Agenda and advancing the SDGs. To track progress on the SDGs and the targets of the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations Member States have agreed to the Global Indicator Framework, a set of global indicators. Canada’s domestic indicator framework, the Canadian Indicator Framework, will help measure progress on Canadian SDG ambitions and targets. The Canadian Indicator Framework may be complemented by other government, local, community-driven and Indigenous-owned approaches to measurement. These approaches can enable a more holistic reporting of sustainable development.

The Federal Implementation Plan, supporting the National Strategy, articulates how the Government of Canada will contribute to advancing the 2030 Agenda National Strategy at the federal level. The plan supports coordinated implementation across the federal government to advance progress on the SDGs and provides details on:

  • the roles and responsibilities of federal departments and agencies
  • an Annual Report to Canadians on progress
  • ongoing opportunities for public engagement
  • the creation of an External Advisory Committee
  • the SDG Funding Program

Lead departments and agencies are named for each of the 17 SDGs. Other federal organizations are identified as key contributors, and will also contribute to the advancement of the SDGs through their policies, programs and initiatives. In addition, horizontal leads are responsible for integrating crosscutting objectives of Leaving no one behind, advancing Reconciliation, and Canada’s international efforts to advance the SDGs, into the Government of Canada’s work on advancing the 2030 Agenda.

The Greening Government Strategy

The Greening Government Strategy is a set of government-approved commitments that apply to all core government departments and agencies. It shows how the Government of Canada will transition its own operations to reach net-zero carbon and become more climate-resilient, while also reducing environmental impacts beyond carbon, including on waste, water and biodiversity. The strategy is led by the Centre for Greening Government of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

The Greening Government Strategy targets net-zero emissions from operations by 2050, including:

  • government-owned and leased real property
  • mobility: fleets, business travel and commuting
  • procurement of goods and services
  • national safety and security operations

The draft 2022 to 2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy includes the Government of Canada’s commitment to lead by example by greening its operations, achieving net-zero emissions and becoming climate-resilient. Key actions to support the government’s 2030 and net-zero emissions target can be found under SDG 13, Climate action. For more information on the Government of Canada's targets, actions, inclusions and exclusions for greening operations, please see the Greening Government Strategy.