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Minister's message

I am very pleased to table the 2012 Progress Report of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS). This report showcases the Government of Canada's innovative approach to strengthening sustainable development that was established through the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Based on the first FSDS, tabled in October 2010, this report brings transparency to environmental decision-making by presenting a whole-of-government view of progress being made within four key areas:

  • Addressing climate change and air quality;
  • Maintaining water quality and availability;
  • Protecting nature; and,
  • Shrinking the environmental footprint – Beginning with government.

The story that emerges from the most recent data available about the FSDS goals, targets and implementation strategies is both complex and encouraging. It is complex in that, clearly, the challenges are many and varied as we continue to learn more about ways to build a greener future while growing our economy and improving our quality of life. It is encouraging in that we also find progress being made in a number of key areas, as a result of efforts not only of the federal government, but also of provincial and municipal governments, as well as industry and individual Canadians. This progress includes:

  • Canada has begun to decouple greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth;
  • Canada is currently projecting to be about one half of the way towards meeting its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target under the Copenhagen Accord:
  • Air quality in Canada is among the best in the world and is improving for a number of pollutants;
  • The Great Lakes' Areas of Concern are being restored;
  • Since 1990, the protected area in Canada has nearly doubled; and,
  • The federal government has made significant strides in greening its operations.

This whole-of-government view of results also represents progress in making federal environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

While this report focuses on the work of the Government of Canada, Canada is fortunate that governments at all levels, as well as industry, non-governmental organizations, and First Nations, are also contributing towards greater environmental sustainability. So in tabling this report, I want to thank my provincial and territorial colleagues, who have set their own ambitious programs and have partnered with many of our initiatives. Another thank-you must go to the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and First Nations communities who have worked with us to create new and practical solutions towards environmental sustainability.

Finally, I wish to thank the thousands of Government of Canada employees, throughout the 27 federal departments and agencies, for the passion and commitment they have shown towards helping to build a greener Canada. Our work is only beginning. Through this report, we have a clearer view of the way forward.

The Honourable Peter Kent, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment
Minister responsible for Parks Canada


The starting point for this report is the requirement to provide a whole-of-government picture to parliamentarians and Canadians about how the federal government supports environmental sustainability and what progress the federal government has made. This report takes into account the work of 27 federal departments and agencies on some 400 implementation strategies that contribute to 38 targets, which in turn support the 8 goals of the 2010 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS). This report shows how, as of 2012, the Government of Canada has contributed to the broad outcomes of the FSDS goals and targets. The reader is encouraged to explore online sources of information that are referenced throughout the report to obtain further details. These sources include the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategies of specific federal departments and agencies, where additional detail can be found on specific programs and activities, and the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program, which provides additional information about the indicators included in this report. Together, these sources provide a full picture of the federal government's sustainable development activities.

Executive summary

This 2012 Progress Report of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) highlights the progress of 27 federal departments and agencies towards achieving the goals and targets set out in the first cycle of the FSDS (2010–2013). For parliamentarians and Canadians, it provides a whole-of-government picture of the actions the federal government has taken to support environmental sustainability and highlights what has been accomplished thus far.

This report looks at sustainable development through the lens of the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA), which requires that an FSDS be developed and implemented to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

The 2010 FSDS has improved transparency through stronger planning and reporting that provides:

  • An integrated, whole-of-government picture of actions and results to achieve environmental sustainability;
  • A link between sustainable development planning and reporting and the government's core expenditure planning and reporting system; and,
  • Effective measurement, monitoring and reporting to track and report to Canadians on progress made.

This report provides information on FSDS goals, targets and selected implementation strategies organized by four themes that represent key environmental priorities for Canadians:

  • Addressing climate change and air quality;
  • Maintaining water quality and availability;
  • Protecting nature; and,
  • Shrinking the environmental footprint – Beginning with government.

As the first progress report of its kind under the FSDA, this report is a key milestone showing, at a broad level, that the Government of Canada is making progress both towards greater transparency and towards the FSDS goals and targets.

This report also presents the most up-to-date information available using indicators from the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program. The information presented includes:

  • Trends over time, such as emission levels of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, the release of pollutants into water, and the sustainability of biological resources, such as wood supply;
  • Current measures of status, such as of major fish stocks, species at risk and availability of water; and,
  • Baselines that have recently been established to track progress in key areas, such as exposures to chemicals.

This report is part of a whole reporting system that provides a comprehensive picture of progress against the FSDS goals and targets. It highlights key actions from selected implementation strategies of FSDS departments and agencies, and directs readers to more detailed information available on departmental websites. Additional links direct the reader to indicator information from the CESI website. Together these provide the reader with the means to review how the federal government works towards environmental sustainability and where more information can be found in specific areas. Through this report and these linkages, the FSDS makes environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament.

In keeping with the approach of "plan-do-check-improve," this report also points to challenges and underscores the opportunities to further improve environmental sustainability. This is an important step as the Government of Canada develops the next cycle of the 2013–2016 FSDS and future progress reports.

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