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Background: What is the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

What is the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

The Federal Sustainable Development Act provides the legal framework for the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, or FSDS. It requires the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to table a new strategy every 3 years. Regular updating of the strategy allows it to reflect new priorities.

The FSDS sets out the Government of Canada’s environmental sustainability priorities, establishes goals and targets, and identifies actions to achieve them. It outlines what we’ll do across government to promote clean growth, ensure healthy ecosystems and build safe, secure and sustainable communities over a 3-year period.

In October 2016 we tabled the 2016–2019 FSDS. That strategy:

  • set out goals aligned with the environmentally-focused Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda)
  • established strong targets and indicators
  • took an inclusive approach recognizing the important roles of other governments, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and all Canadians

This strategy updates the 2016–2019 FSDS and shows how we’ll continue to advance our sustainable development goals and support the environmentally-focused SDGs over the next 3 years.

It sets out 13 aspirational goals that reflect the Canada we want, supported by medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and clear action plans. It also includes cross-cutting priorities that will support progress in all areas of the strategy including:

  • supporting international agreements and initiatives, including the 2030 Agenda
  • supporting informed and sustainable decision making across government
  • implementing strong environmental legislation and ensuring robust and thorough environmental assessments
  • working in partnership with Indigenous peoples and communities
  • maintaining an ongoing conversation with partners, stakeholders and Canadians on sustainable development

Departments and agencies across government contribute to implementing our strategy and achieving results. The Act requires 26 federal organizations to prepare their own strategies that comply with and contribute to the FSDS. An additional 16 organizations contribute on a voluntary basis.

Our strategy supports Canada’s international sustainability commitments, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Additionally, it reflects key government initiatives including our support for the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change and other actions to transition Canada to a low-carbon economy.

In defining federal environmental sustainability commitments and actions, the 2019–2022 FSDS will complement a National Strategy on the 2030 Agenda led by Employment and Social Development Canada. While the FSDS and the National Strategy are different, they reinforce each other. The FSDS will continue to support Canada’s overall response to the 2030 Agenda.

This strategy was prepared under the existing Federal Sustainable Development Act. However, amendments to the Act received Royal Assent in February 2019 and will come into force on a future date to be determined by the Governor in Council. Once the amendments are in force, future strategies will be guided by an Act that supports greater accountability, a truly whole-of-government approach, and more effective engagement with Canadians.

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