Strengthening transparency and accountability: Amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act now in force 

News release

A view from above of the Parliament Buildings and Rideau locks in the fall
The Parliament Buildings on a fall day

December 7, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canadians want cleaner air and healthier communities once we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why the Government of Canada is taking consistent action to reduce emissions, grow the economy, and create good jobs for Canadians.

On December 1, 2020, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act came into force. The Act strengthens transparency for the Government of Canada by expanding the number of federal organizations—from 27 to more than 95—that must contribute to developing the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. These organizations must also report on their contributions through their own departmental sustainable development strategies, with measurable targets and time frames that contribute to meeting the goals of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is based on the efficient use of natural, social, and economic resources and the need to integrate environmental, economic, and social factors into all decisions. The amendments in the Federal Sustainable Development Act make decision-making on sustainable development more accountable to Parliament and include new principles of intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, collaboration, results and delivery, and involvement of Indigenous Peoples.

Public consultation will continue to shape future federal sustainable development strategies through a mandated 120-day consultation period with all Canadians. The amendments that come into force today will help Canada move toward a more comprehensive, accountable, and collaborative approach to sustainable development in Canada. 

Additional multimedia

A shoreline in British Columbia viewed from a distance
British Columbia waterfront landscape


“Canadians want cleaner air, healthier communities, and a strong economy for their children and grandchildren. As we work toward net-zero emissions by 2050, the federal government must lead by example, and the improvements to the Federal Sustainable Development Act help us do just that. Together, we can create a healthier and more prosperous Canada for future generations.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change 

Quick facts

  • The Federal Sustainable Development Act requires the Minister of the Environment to prepare and table a federal sustainable development strategy at least once every three years, following a 120-day public-consultation period. 

  • Canada’s 2019–2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy continues to highlight the Government of Canada’s plan and vision for a more sustainable Canada by setting federal goals and targets and supporting departmental actions for meeting each target. 

  • The strategy is shaped by input from stakeholders and Canadians, and it recognizes the important role that our partners and all Canadians play in achieving sustainable development. 

  • The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy is one of the key elements of Canada’s response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in supporting the environmentally focused Sustainable Development Goals. Environment and Climate Change Canada continues to work with Employment and Social Development Canada and other implicated departments to align with and contribute to the future 2030 Agenda National Strategy for Canada.

  • The amendments to the Act respond to the recommendations from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development’s 2016 report Federal Sustainability for Future Generations – A Report following an Assessment of the Federal Sustainable Development Act

Associated links


Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page 

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