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Listening to Canadians: What we did

What we did

Comments from partners, stakeholders and individual Canadians played an important role in shaping our strategy. The following are some of the steps we took to improve our strategy in response to public comments.

Strengthened our targets

Measurable, time-bound targets allow us to track our progress and report to Canadians on results. Responding to comments from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development as well as from stakeholders and Canadians, we’ve strengthened our targets on greenhouse gas emissions and waste from federal operations, adaptation to climate change in federal operations, health of national parks, sustainable agriculture and air quality, including by ensuring they are specific and supported by indicators.

Added a new target on zero-emission vehicles

For the first time, the 2019–2022 FSDS includes a target on sales of zero-emission vehicles. We aim to increase sales of zero-emission vehicles in Canada to 10% of light-duty vehicle sales by 2025, 30% by 2030, and 100% by 2040. Our strategy also highlights how we are working with partners to develop electric vehicle charging stations across Canada. We’ve also added a new target on growing Canada’s clean technology exports.

Broadened our strategy to better address economic and social sustainability

We recognize that sustainable development goes beyond the environment alone. While the 2019–2022 FSDS continues to focus primarily on environmental sustainability, we’ve revised targets, milestones and actions that support our Sustainable Food goal to reflect efforts to promote an innovative and competitive agri-food sector and help Canadians make healthy food choices. Other revisions, such as a new target on growing clean technology exports, also highlight economic and social dimensions of sustainable development.

Provided a more comprehensive suite of indicators to measure progress

Building on past strategies, the 2019–2022 FSDS provides an expanded annex on performance measurement setting out all indicators and performance measures that will be used to track progress on the strategy. We’ve also broadened our performance measurement approach for the strategy to include additional indicators that provide context for our targets—for example, indicators that provide insight into climate change in Canada as well as land use change over time.

Clarified linkages between targets, indicators and action plans

The action plans set out in the 2019–2022 FSDS support our environmental sustainability goals, targets and milestones. To enhance transparency and accountability, we’ve improved our action plans by clearly linking our priority actions to medium-term targets. Our new, expanded performance measurement annex also makes clearer linkages between FSDS targets and the indicators that will be used to report on results.

Talking with the Sustainable Development Advisory Council

The Sustainable Development Advisory Council was a key part of public consultations on the draft 2019–2022 FSDS. The council’s role includes advising the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on draft federal sustainable development strategies, and its members represent each province and territory as well as Indigenous peoples, environmental non-governmental organizations, business and labour.

In written submissions and in a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, council members noted that the draft 2019–2022 FSDS was a more comprehensive plan than previous versions and that the scope of its reporting had increased. Several council members complimented the draft FSDS, calling it a strong and accessible document, and noting that the information was well disseminated.

Many council members said that consideration of sustainable development’s social and economic pillars is important, especially regarding poverty and health. Some also noted that issues related to circular economy and adaptation to climate change could receive more emphasis, and a few members discussed an energy transition strategy. Other members provided insights about the strategy’s relationship to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the possibility of more ambitious actions to meet Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, and the merits of stronger efforts to decarbonize and electrify Canada’s energy sector.

Council members remain concerned about climate change impacts in the north and difficulties in understanding and accessing federal funding for sustainability projects. Others discussed the need for more public education on sustainability issues. While Canada’s efforts to green government and procurement demonstrate its leadership in sustainability, the council clarified that all levels of government must be engaged in this process. In particular, they called for making sustainable development tools and training accessible to municipalities and small business owners.

The council also asked us to take a long-term approach to the enduring problems that climate change poses. As one council member advised, “we cannot afford to only follow those solutions that are politically popular.”

Overall, the council members saw the FSDS as a mechanism for Canada to demonstrate strategic leadership on sustainable development issues while also considering regional contexts, young Canadians, and diverse perspectives from across the country. Ongoing dialogue with all Canadians will remain essential to this leadership, as will ensuring that Canada’s strategy is linked to global movements in sustainable development such as the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

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