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Planning for a Sustainable Future:
A Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada

Sustainable Development Office
Environment Canada

November 2013


The second cycle of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) continues the approach to federal sustainable development planning and reporting that began with the introduction of the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the 2010–2013 FSDS. In doing so, it advances the government’s long-term commitment to make environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

The second cycle builds on three key improvements made by Canada’s first FSDS, compared with previous federal sustainable development approaches:

  1. An integrated, whole-of-government picture of actions and results to achieve environmental sustainability;
  2. A link between sustainable development planning and reporting and the government’s core planning and reporting processes; and
  3. Effective measurement, monitoring and reporting in order to track and report on progress to Canadians.

The second cycle advances these improvements by ensuring that a broader range of federal actions are included, continuing efforts to align FSDS activities with departmental planning and reporting (notably, by aligning departments’ FSDS commitments with their respective Program Alignment Architectures), and expanding the suite of indicators used to measure progress. It also responds to comments and input from stakeholders by, for example, improving targets and implementation strategies to make them more specific, measurable, and achievable; improving coverage of environmental issues; and better integrating the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.

The second cycle maintains the first cycle’s basic structure, including four priority themes: Addressing climate change and air quality, Maintaining water quality and availability, Protecting nature and Canadians, and Shrinking the environmental footprint – beginning with government. Within each theme, progress has been made through, for example, adding a new target on climate change adaptation, and including a broader range of relevant activities and responsible departments. Goals, targets and implementation strategies have also been updated to reflect current federal programming.

Changes evident in the second cycle represent the initial results of the FSDS “Plan, do, check, improve” model of performance management. The flexibility and transparency of the FSDS approach, combined with a clear vision of what the strategy can and should achieve, will continue to drive future improvements.

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