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Federal Sustainable Development Act

In June 2008, the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA) was proclaimed. The purpose of the Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that will make environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The Act requires the development of a federal sustainable development strategy (FSDS) and a report on progress at least every three years.

Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2010–2013

The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) 2010–2013, tabled on October 6, 2010, continues to guide the Government of Canada’s sustainable development activities. During 2013–2014, the Government will be consulting the public regarding the second three-year cycle of the FSDS (2013–2016). This FSDS will then be finalized to provide the basis for the 2013–2014 year-end performance reporting.

Environment Canada

The Minister of the Environment has two major responsibilities regarding the FSDS.

First, the Act requires the Minister to:

  • develop a federal sustainable development strategy on behalf of the Government of Canada and table it in both Houses of Parliament every three years; and
  • table a triennial report on the progress of the federal government in implementing the FSDS.

Second, as with all other ministers of departments and agencies subject to the FSDA, the Minister of the Environment is responsible for developing Environment Canada’s own departmental sustainable development strategy (DSDS). This document is focused on the Minister’s second responsibility.

Environment Canada’s DSDS is organized around the three Strategic Outcomes of the Department’s Program Alignment Architecture (PAA):

  • Canada’s natural environment is conserved and restored for present and future generations.
  • Canadians are equipped to make informed decisions on changing weather, water and climate conditions.
  • Threats to Canadians and their environment from pollution are minimized.

Environment Canada is committed to continuous improvement as more experience is gained. The Department will be looking for opportunities both to improve its own strategy and to assist other departments as all gain more experience with this coordinated approach.

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Environment Canada’s Sustainable Development Vision

Environment Canada’s sustainable development vision is to improve Canadians’ standard of living by protecting human health, conserving the environment, using resources efficiently and advancing long-term economic competitiveness.

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Environment Canada’s Decision-making and Sustainable Development Practices

The concept of sustainable development rests at the core of the Department’s mandate. A flexible, yet robust decision-making process is, therefore, essential in order for the Department to consider the social, economic and environmental dimensions of strategic, policy and program issues as they arise. To this end, the Department’s decision-making process, within an established corporate governance structure, allows for both formal and informal opportunities, as outlined below, to consider issues, set priorities, and render either decisions or recommendations as necessary.

Sustainable Development Champion

The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Strategic Policy Branch is the Sustainable Development Champion and has overall leadership of the departmental responsibilities related to sustainable development. In 2013–2014, the Champion will:

  • coordinate the formulation and implementation of the 2013–2016 FSDS and Management Framework;
  • provide overall leadership and coordination in the implementation of the FSDA, through effective interdepartmental engagement and the Sustainable Development Office; and
  • provide leadership for the Department on strategic environmental assessment.

Strategic Environmental Assessments

To ensure that environmental considerations receive an appropriate level of attention in decision making, the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (the Cabinet Directive) was issued to all government departments and agencies, setting out clear obligations regarding strategic environmental assessments (SEAs). According to the Cabinet Directive, ministers expect an SEA of a policy, plan or program proposal to be conducted when the following two conditions are met:

  • The policy, plan or program proposal is submitted to Cabinet or to an individual minister for approval.
  • The implementation of the proposal may result in important environmental effects, either positive or negative.

The Cabinet Directive requires the consideration of the scope and nature of any likely positive or negative environmental impacts generated by these proposals, as well as the potential for mitigation and enhancement. The FSDS committed the federal government to consider the FSDS goals and targets when undertaking SEAs.

Environment Canada will ensure that it continues to comply with the Cabinet Directive and will develop quality SEAs that take the FSDS goals and targets into consideration. A Departmental Policy on SEA is in place to establish the key elements of a well-functioning SEA management system. These include clear accountabilities and procedures, updated guidance materials and a comprehensive SEA tracking system.

Environment Canada will continue to implement its SEA policy and further strengthen its SEA performance. In particular, the Department will ensure that:

  • high-quality SEAs are completed for policy, plan and program proposals as required under the Cabinet Directive;
  • SEAs include a detailed analysis of a proposal’s potential effects on the achievement of the FSDS goals and targets;
  • SEAs include measures to mitigate negative environmental effects (including effects on the achievement of the FSDS goals and targets) and enhance positive environmental effects;
  • public statements are issued where SEAs have been approved or announced; and
  • in accordance with the Cabinet Directive, Environment Canada responds to requests from other departments and agencies to provide expert policy, technical and scientific analysis on sustainable development, and the potential environmental effects of initiatives.

The Environment Canada 2013–2014 Departmental Performance Report will provide a description of actual and/or expected effects of departmental proposals on the achievement of the FSDS goals and targets, as identified in SEAs conducted over the coming year.

Decision-making Tools

Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement Summaries

Environment Canada uses regulatory impact analysis statements (RIASs) to determine the expected impact of regulatory initiatives as per the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management.

A RIAS provides a cogent, non-technical synthesis of information that allows the various audiences to understand the regulation and its impacts. It contains the reason the issue is being regulated, the Government’s objectives, and the costs and benefits of the regulation, including the effectiveness of the regulation from an environmental objective standpoint. It also addresses who will be affected, who was consulted in developing the regulation, and how the Government will evaluate and measure the performance of the regulation against its stated objectives, which provides transparency in support of sustainable development decisions by government. A list of Environment Canada regulations, along with their RIASs, can be found at this website.

Intergovernmental Collaboration and Stakeholder Consultation

Environment Canada’s sustainable development decisions and actions require collaboration, partnership and information exchange with key partners and stakeholders, including other levels of government, Aboriginal peoples, industry, environmental non-governmental organizations and Canadian citizens. As such, Environment Canada aims to foster positive, long-term relationships with these key constituencies in all of its activities. For example, relationships with provincial and territorial partners are advanced through bilateral agreements, as well as through multilateral forums, such as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. In addition, the Department consults and engages with Aboriginal peoples and stakeholders to deliver on core priorities such as protecting and conserving our air, water, wildlife and natural areas.

Monitoring, Reporting and Policy Improvement

Performance measurement and evaluation are complementary. While performance measurement is ongoing and focuses on the quantification of certain aspects of performance, evaluation is a snapshot in time. Regularly collected performance measurement information is used in periodic evaluation that provides, when analyzed in the context of evaluation-specific data collection, a more in-depth and independent assessment of the outcomes achieved.

Ongoing Monitoring and Reporting

Implementation of the DSDS will be monitored and reported on an ongoing basis in two ways:

  • periodic reporting to the Executive Management Committee by the Sustainable Development Champion
  • reporting in the departmental Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports.
Audit and Evaluation

The FSDS[1] will be evaluated as part of the evaluation of Environment Canada’s Sustainability Reporting and Indicators Program. The evaluation will address issues related to relevance and performance, in compliance with the Treasury Board’s Policy on Evaluation (2009). Evaluation relies on sound, reliable and credible performance measurement information to demonstrate progress toward intended program outcomes.

Policy Improvement

In the follow-up to the 2014–2015 evaluation, the management team leading Environment Canada’s contribution to the FSDS will develop a management response with clear and concise management actions to address evaluation recommendations. This response will allow management and evaluators to better ascertain progress toward addressing the recommendations and will facilitate the evaluator’s ability to assess the disposition or completion of management actions.

The Evaluation Division regularly monitors and reports on the status of management action taken in response to evaluation recommendations. Doing so provides Environment Canada’s Departmental Evaluation Committee (chaired by the Deputy Minister) with timely information on how well the Department is addressing and resolving risks or deficiencies and acting on identified opportunities that have been raised in evaluations.

The External Audit Advisory Committee also provides a challenge function and independent, objective advice and recommendations to the Deputy Minister.   

[1] The internal evaluation will include both the secretariat function, which Environment Canada holds, as well as Environment Canada-specific elements within the FSDS.

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Environment Canada’s Activities Supporting FSDS Themes I to III

For a listing of the Department’s implementation strategies under the 2010–2013 FSDS, please refer to the 2012–2013 Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy: Departmental Website Component of the 2012–2013 Report on Plans and Priorities.

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Clean Air Agenda Programming

2013–2014 PAA ProgramsClean Air Agenda ProgramsExpected Achievements
Clean Air Agenda Theme: Adaptation
2.1.3 Climate Information, Predictions and ToolsClimate change prediction and scenarios

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $5.78 million
For 2013–2014, the focus will be on generating and disseminating new knowledge and data on climate change and variability by developing computer models and climate scenarios that help predict seasonal and longer-term climate variations; understanding trends and extremes in temperature and precipitation; and continued improvements in cryosphere (snow and ice) and land surface processes for climate modelling. This information supports federal decision making on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Clean Air Agenda Theme: Clean Air Regulatory Agenda
1.3.2 Ecosystem Assessment and ApproachesAnalysis in support of regulations

Planned spending for 2013–2014:  $1.37 million
Advice and technical support to environmental assessments.
2.1.2  Health-related Meteorological Information Data collection and reporting for atmospheric pollutants

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $7.90 million
Environment Canada expects to achieve several goals under the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI): to develop, in partnership with Health Canada, effective strategies and supporting activities for facilitating the implementation of the AQHI in New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec; to improve modelling tools and data access in order to increase accuracy of AQHI forecasting; and to harness dissemination and social media technologies in order to increase the reach of the AQHI.

Work will continue to expand the AQHI service, with a focus on communities in the North.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramElectricity regulations 

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $1.38 million
In 2013–2014, Environment Canada will focus on implementing the coal-fired electricity generation regulations, which were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, in September 2012, and developing regulations for natural gas-fired electricity generation.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramEmissions-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) regulations 

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $3.51 million
In 2013–2014, specific activities will include the development implementation, of regulations and other instruments to reduce emissions of key air pollutants from the pulp and paper, aluminium, base metal smelter, cement, iron and steel, iron ore pellets, potash, chemicals, and fertilizer sectors; and continued discussions on regulatory approaches for addressing GHGs with the above-mentioned sectors as well as the lime sector. Some of these regulatory measures covering GHGs and air pollutant emissions are expected to be published in 2013–2014. 
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramTransportation regulations 

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $8.49 million
Work will continue with the United States on North American transportation standards for GHG emissions by finalizing and implementing standards for heavy-duty vehicles for model year 2014 and beyond, as well as continuing implementation of the light-duty vehicle regulations for the 2011–2016 model years and finalizing draft standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2017–2025, which were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in December 2012.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramOil and gas regulations

Planned spending for 2013–2014:  $3.13 million
To reduce emission levels, air pollutant and GHG emission requirements will be established, and regulations and other risk management instruments will be developed and promulgated.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramConsumer and commercial products regulations

Planned spending for 2013–2014:  $1.20 million
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) have been identified as a contributor to smog, which is harmful to health and the environment. Emissions of VOC from consumer and commercial products will be addressed through an evolving suite of control instruments, including amending the proposed VOC Concentration Limits for Certain Products Regulations. 
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramAnalysis in support of regulations

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $3.55 million
Economic analysis in support of regulations.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramAtmospheric research, monitoring and modelling

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $18.41 million

Greenhouse Gas and Aerosols (including Short-Lived Climate Pollutants) Monitoring and Modelling

  • Enhanced monitoring of GHGs and aerosols (including black carbon) and climate modelling to develop methods for the observations-based estimation of managed and unmanaged sources (carbon sources and sinks) and to provide improved understanding of the impact of GHGs and aerosols (including black carbon) on climate and related feedbacks from snow and ice.
  • Establish baselines and improve characterization of Canadian GHG emissions to contribute to the verification of domestic and international mitigation commitments and to support the development and evaluation of emission targets, inventories and regulations. Information is used to establish baselines from which environmental impacts can be assessed, and which can be used to determine progress on the implementation of regulations.

Air Quality Monitoring and Modelling

  • EC will undertake research, monitoring and modelling activities on air pollutants in order to contribute to the understanding of the impacts of emissions on human health and the environment. This will enhance knowledge and information associated with the long-range transport, transformation and deposition of pollutants; improve tools to support the development of air pollutant emissions regulations and ambient air quality standards; improve tools to predict and describe benefits resulting from policy and regulatory actions and compliance mechanisms; and enhance the understanding of source contributions and trends.
  • Emphasis will be placed on informing the Air Quality Management System (AQMS), as this system relies heavily on effective air quality monitoring and research results, on understanding transboundary movement of air pollutants, and on modelling and reporting. Atmospheric science activities will also inform Canadian commitments related to the Canada–United States Air Quality Agreement.   
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramHealth and environmental impacts of air pollutants

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $3.14 million

Expected achievements of this program include the following:

  • scientific evaluations of the biological impacts of acid deposition and mercury on aquatic biodiversity, and assessments of the health of wildlife species and their ecosystems in select Canadian environments through the use of various indicators;
  • wildlife effects and risk assessment components of national and international assessments of the impacts of mercury and acid deposition; and
  • increased understanding of the effectiveness of air pollutant regulation in protecting and/or improving the health of Canadian ecosystems.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramOil sands science

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $2.84 million
Working collaboratively with the Government of Alberta and other stakeholders to measure priority air contaminants in order to set the baseline and establish trends, to understand the contribution of the atmospheric deposition and transport of these contaminants, and to utilize air quality models (i.e. GEM-MACH) to predict the impacts of oil sands development.

Environment Canada will provide support to environmental assessments and other activities related to the oil sands cumulative effects program.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramScience integration, accountability and benefits of action

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $0.78 million
The delivery of air quality science and science advice related to substances (e.g. mercury) or atmospheric issues (e.g. smog) that describe sources and ambient concentrations and trends. This informs the analysis of impacts on Canadians’ health and environment and of forecasted benefits of regulatory actions and other measures to reduce emissions in Canada or from other countries.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramData collection and reporting for GHGs

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $7.71 million

Environment Canada’s objectives with respect to GHG monitoring and reporting include maintaining existing institutional capacity to deliver an enhanced monitoring, accounting and reporting system to produce an annual UN-compliant National Inventory Report (NIR) as well as domestic facility emissions reporting via the Greenhouse Gas Facility Reporting Program (GHGRP) to ensure compliance with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).

The NIR achievements for 2013–2014 will include ongoing economic sector alignment and harmonized publication activities with the Emissions Trends Report and harmonized reporting with the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators and the GHGRP.

Preparation is also underway for the implementation of new United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) GHG reporting requirements negotiated internationally, including the following:

  • changes to GHG estimation processes (new global warming potentials) and the addition of a new gas (nitrogen trifluoride);
  • new sector-specific information to be reported (e.g. emissions from abandoned coal mines, new vehicle technologies); and
  • sector-specific changes to current estimation methodologies (e.g. harvested wood products).

The GHGRP achievements will include:

  • development of reporting requirements and publishing the annual Canada Gazette notice;
  • collection of 2012 data via the Single Window system and provision of support to GHGRP reporters through technical guidance, training, webinars and helpdesk; and
  • contributions to Canadian GHG biennial reporting and national communication submissions.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramData collection and reporting for atmospheric pollutants

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $0.57 million

Air pollution emissions inventory expected achievements include:

  • development and publication of comprehensive and accurate air pollutant emissions information for industrial and non-industrial sources (including the transportation sector), which supports the development, implementation and tracking of the progress of regulations and air quality management strategies;
  • development of emission estimates and support for the development of regulations and policies for mobile sources and fuels (i.e., on-road and off-road vehicles);
  • updated and published trends in comprehensive air pollutant inventories from 1985 to 2011; and
  • information and technical expertise to support the AQMS, BLIERs, and regulatory development with respect to air emissions.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramCross-cutting data collection and reporting

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $3.05 million

Expected achievements are as follows:

  • reduced duplication and administrative burden on industry for reporting data to support the implementation of the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda (CARA) regulations, program and policy development; and reduced cost to Canadians;
  • improved consistency and efficiency of common/tombstone data reported to EC through a single-window reporting portal to support CARA decision making and implementation; and
  • expansion of Environment Canada’s Single Window (SW) system, taking into account the needs and requirements of CARA programs, systems, partners and users.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramGreenhouse gas policy

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $4.60 million

Expected achievements are linked to advancing the Government’s climate change priorities, including through the development and implementation of the Government’s sector-by-sector regulatory plan to reduce GHG emissions in Canada, aligned with the United States as appropriate, to contribute towards achieving Canada’s national GHG reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Specifically, these include the following:

  • supporting the Government’s climate change agenda through the provision of strategic policy and economic analysis, advice, and coordination for the development of GHG regulations for the electricity, oil and gas, and emission-intensive and trade-exposed sectors,
  • the Government’s climate change agenda will also be supported through ongoing monitoring and analysis of existing and emerging provincial, regional and United States climate change initiatives and their implications for the development of federal climate policy; and
  • the provision of strategic policy analysis and coordination of federal work on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), to support Canada’s engagement in various international fora on this issue.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramCross-cutting analysis

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $3.13 million
  • Economic modelling, analysis and research in order to support informed federal decision making on policy approaches to reduce GHG and air pollutant emissions and to analyze the competitiveness impacts of these approaches.
  • Environment Canada will identify opportunities for streamlining reporting processes and generating efficiencies by integrating with other related government-wide initiatives–such as the FSDS.
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramAtmospheric pollutants policy

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $2.42 million

Expected achievements are linked to implementing the new Air Quality Management System (AQMS), including the development and implementation of regulations and other instruments to reduce air pollutant emissions from key industries and efforts to manage air quality at a national level.

Expected achievements include the following:

  • implementing measures to reduce air pollutant emissions from boilers and heaters in the oil and gas, electricity, pulp and paper, mining and processing, and chemicals and fertilizer sectors;
  • establishing Canadian ambient air quality standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ground-level ozone and updating standards for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide;
  • implementing a framework to address transboundary issues and to monitor and report on the AQMS;
  • further addressing North American transboundary air pollution through dialogue with the United States on a possible annex to the Air Quality Agreement to address particulate matter; and
  • participating in trilateral air quality initiatives under the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
3.3 Compliance Promotion and Enforcement – PollutionCompliance promotion and enforcement

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $6.68 million

The expected achievements over the length of the Clean Air Agenda (CAA) include greater industry compliance and enforcement of the regulations implemented under the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda (CARA). More specifically, the key expected achievements are as follows:

  • development of compliance strategies and compliance promotion plans for new or amended CARA instruments;
  • development of compliance promotion material and regional delivery of compliance promotion activities for  small and medium enterprises, First Nations and the Federal House (when required) for new and amended CARA instruments;
  • delivery of compliance promotion training to compliance promotion officers on new CARA requirements;
  • delivery of sound advice and guidance to risk managers to support the development and implementation of CARA instruments;
  • coordination of compliance promotion and enforcement activities to ensure complementary activities;
  • measures to ensure the effective use of information management tools for reporting on activities and results concerning CARA instruments; and
  • delivery of sound science and technical expertise to support the development and implementation of CARA instruments.
4.1.1 Governance and Management SupportAnalysis in support of regulations

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $0.90 million
Legal analysis in support of regulations.
Clean Air Agenda Theme: Clean Transportation
3.2.1 Climate Change and Clean Air Regulatory ProgramMarine Sector Regulatory Initiative

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $2.08 million
Environment Canada will administer new marine fuel standards finalized under the current Sulphur in Diesel Fuel Regulations of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999). In addition, Environment Canada will continue to work with Transport Canada to develop global standards at the International Maritime Organization to limit air pollutant and GHG emissions from marine shipping, will undertake work to assess the emission reduction potential of new technologies for ships, and will continue to assess the impact of air pollutant emissions from ships operating in the Canadian Arctic.
Clean Air Agenda Theme: International Actions
3.2.2 International Climate Change and Clean Air PartnershipsInternational climate change participation and negotiations

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $4.53 million

Canada will continue its strategic participation in a range of international climate fora within and outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process, including multilateral and bilateral meetings.

These achievements are expected over the 2011–2016 time frame:

  • Outcomes of international negotiations and initiatives will be consistent with Canada’s interests and priorities.
  • Canadian interests are protected and advanced in both existing and new agreements, and through participation in key bilateral and multilateral partnerships.
3.2.2 International Climate Change and Clean Air PartnershipsInternational climate obligations

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $0.34 million
In 2013–2014, the expected achievement is the provision of the Government of Canada’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the IPCC’s 2014 fiscal year and the provision of the Government of Canada’s contribution to the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) for its 2013–2014 fiscal year.

The expected overall achievement of this program is for the Government of Canada to contribute to the overall functioning of the IPCC and the IAI and their ongoing work to produce policy-relevant scientific information on climate change.
3.2.2 International Climate Change and Clean Air PartnershipsEngagement and alignment with the United States

Planned spending for 2013–2014: $0.85 million

The overall objective of the Clean Energy Dialogue (CED), initiated in 2009, is to enhance bilateral collaboration with the United States on the development and deployment of clean energy technologies in order to reduce GHG emissions and address climate change.

Expected achievements for 2013–2014:

  • Collaborate with the United States on shared clean energy priorities that contribute to the advancement of Canada’s domestic clean energy agenda.
  • Advance implementation of CED Action Plan II and associated projects within the three bilateral working groups.
  • Communicate progress and achievements on the CED website.

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Theme IV: Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government

Environment Canada is a participant in the FSDS and contributes to the Greening Government Operations (GGO) targets through the Internal Services Program. The Department contributes to the following target areas of Theme IV of the FSDS:

  • green buildings
  • green procurement
  • e-waste, managed print, paper consumption and green meetings
  • greenhouse gas emissions.

For additional details on Environment Canada’s GGO activities, please see the GGO supplementary table.

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Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

For complete details on the FSDS please see the FSDS website.

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