4. Conclusion and moving forward

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The objective of this progress report is to lay out the Government of Canada’s processes and actions taken to-date to implement the FSDS. These processes and actions have culminated in an improved framework for environmental decision-making, planning and reporting, and establish a firm foundation to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable over the long-term. The systems set up to implement the FSDS support each of the key improvements outlined in the FSDS.

4.1 Key improvement 1: Whole-of-government picture

This report is a snap-shot of the current state of implementation of the FSDS and outlines how the picture will be presented in the future. Collecting and reporting on the actions in support of the government priorities included in the FSDS will help to inform future actions by identifying areas for improvements. In doing so, as results are gathered, future progress reports will contribute to improved transparency and accountability by communicating government actions on sustainable development.

The Management Framework describes the processes needed to implement the FSDS and the tools needed to bring the whole-of-government picture into better focus, including how progress will be measured and reported, as outlined in this progress report.

As departments and agencies integrate sustainable development planning and reporting into their RPPs, and the suite of environmental indicators is expanded on the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) website, Canadians will also more clearly see what actions the government is taking to improve environmental decision-making and the current state of Canada’s environment.

The FSDS is already being used in a number of ways to reflect Canada’s domestic priorities in its international activities. For instance:

  • The FSDS is contributing to Canada’s preparations for Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 19 and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
  • The FSDS is being used to inform and strengthen Canada’s response to the OECD 2004 Environmental Performance Review of Canada.

4.2 Key improvement 2: Linking sustainable development planning and reporting and the Government’s core expenditure planning and reporting system

Integrating departmental sustainable development planning and reporting into the EMS will clearly connect and make transparent departmental decision-making and activities related to sustainable development. Provision of guidance to encourage this integration, a key action taken since the tabling of the FSDS, will improve implementation of the FSDS.

Beginning in 2011, the FSDS departments and agencies, for the first time, are to include in their RPPs, the objectives and plans that comply with, and contribute to, environmental sustainability goals, targets and implementation strategies outlined in the FSDSFSDS departments and agencies will provide accounts of the progress of their respective sustainable development activities in their DPRs.

Departments and agencies will contribute to transparent environmental decision-making by:

  • Describing the impact of their initiatives on federal environmental goals and targets in their Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) public statements.
  • Reporting on the extent and results of their SEA practices. This will include summary information in DPRs of how initiatives subject to SEA have affected or are expected to affect progress toward federal environmental goals and targets.

4.3 Key improvement 3: Effective measurement, monitoring and reporting

The very core of the FSDS is measurement, monitoring, and reporting. The CESI suite of environmental indicators will better enable both Government decision-makers and stakeholders to effectively measure progress against a backdrop of robust data and clear baselines. Furthermore, the common performance measures for greening government marks the first time that departments and agencies will publicly report in RPPs and DPRs in a consistent manner and therefore allow for the “roll-up” of Government of Canada greening government operations efforts. As well, departments implicated in the FSDS track progress on their own implementation strategies in Themes I–III using departmental performance measures and will publicly report in their Report on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Progress Reports. Collecting and reporting on indicators will support government priorities outlined within the FSDS and will help to inform future actions by identifying areas for improvement. 

The FSDS outlines a system of "Plan, do, check, improve". This system will be a useful and meaningful addition to results-based public management for the federal government’s approach to sustainable development. Through the three-year cycle, progress toward FSDS targets will be tracked and successive FSDSs will reflect policy changes.

The Management Framework also outlines roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders and a logic model linked to outcomes. It also outlines how the FSDS will be implemented and how this implementation will be measured. 

4.4 Moving forward

A second progress report on the 2010–2013 FSDS will be completed late 2012 and will provide a more complete picture of the progress in implementing the first FSDS. This first progress report lays the foundation for the second progress report, and meets the reporting requirements under the Act.

Subsequent progress reports, starting in 2015, will track the implementation of the FSDS, the progress related to results achieved, and the integration of sustainable development into core planning and reporting processes. The reports will measure results by tracking ‘state-of-the-environment’ headline indicators and indicators to measure progress against targets. Departments will outline in their RPPs how their departmental activities are contributing to the FSDS and report on their respective implementation strategies through their DPRs. Future progress reports will also include economic and social considerations related to the FSDS environmental goals and indicators.

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