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

The Federal Government has published this document to encourage Canadians to respond and provide their views, thoughts, and opinions on Canada's draft Sustainable Development Strategy.   The Federal Government asks Canadians to respond by July 12 to sdo-bdd@ec.gc.ca   In 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Canada along with all other countries, committed to develop a Sustainable Development strategy for the country by 2005.    Last year, the Government passed the Federal Sustainable Development Act which stated that Canada would develop a Sustainable Development strategy.   This consultation document is the Government's response to a Federal Sustainable Development strategy for Canada.  My first comment on this draft is that it attempts to bring environmental considerations into the decision-making process but entirely omits to include social considerations.  Sustainable Development requires that we consider social, environmental and economic aspects in decision-making.  The document acknowledges that "we are still searching for a way to incorporate environmental considerations into everything we do - to promote the consideration of environmental factors in decisions in the same way we consider economic and social factors".  I would argue that we are not considering social factors in our decision-making - and this draft sustainable development strategy for Canada does not consider social factors.    CIELAP, the organization I worked for until last June, has published two reports on the need for a Federal Sustainable Deveopment Strategy for Canada.   The first was published in 2001 where we outlined a four-step sustainable development strategy.  The second was published in 2005 and it reiterates the four-step strategy of the 2001 report and adds a suggested short list of priorities to address:  The Kyoto Agreement; Childhood poverty and deprivation; Cities, especially public transit and enironmental infrastructure; "greening" Canadian competitiveness and innovation; and homelessness.   The priorities in the Goverment's draft discussion document are:  addressing climate change and air quality; maintaining water quality and availability; protecting nature; and shrinking the environmental footprint - beginning with Government.   You can access the CIELAP reports at www.cielap.org and you can access the Government's draft strategy at www.ec.gc.ca