Explaining the environmental performance agreements process
An environmental performance agreement (the agreement) is negotiated among parties to achieve specified environmental or human health results. We may negotiate an agreement with a single company, multiple companies or one or more industry associations. Other governments (federal, provincial, territorial or municipal) and third parties (non-government organizations) may also be parties.
The agreement process can be broken down into 10 key steps.
Step 1: Decision to use an agreement
The decision to use an agreement as a risk management instrument depends on a few factors such as:
- the nature of the risk being managed
- the industry sector
- the risk management objective
- the performance history of companies who are being considered for the agreement
Step 2: Negotiation and drafting
The main players in the negotiation process are the Government of Canada and industry. However, other interested parties such as technical experts, industry associations, representatives of other government departments, non-government organizations or community groups, may also bring expertise and value to the negotiation process or even as signatories to the agreement.
Once the negotiations are nearing completion and the elements of the performance agreement are agreed to, a proposed agreement will be drafted ensuring the four principles and eight design criteria outlined in the Policy Framework for Environmental Performance Agreements are adhered to.
Step 3: Consultation
Once the parties have negotiated and drafted an agreement, the proposed agreement is posted for a minimum 30-day public comment. Stakeholder feedback and comments received will be reviewed, responded to and considered.
Stakeholder consultation enhance the agreement’s credibility and transparency. While the nature of the consultation depends on the environmental issues to be covered, it must provide a meaningful opportunity for interested parties to influence decision-making.
Step 4: Finalization and signature
At this step, any necessary final changes to the agreement, following the negotiation and consultation, will need to be made so that the agreement can be finalized and signed by the parties.
Step 5: Conformance promotion
As agreements are voluntary instruments developed with willing participants, Government of Canada promote conformance with the commitments in the agreement, rather than compliance. Like all risk management instruments, agreements greatly benefit from promotion, reminders and communication, both to current participants and potential participants. Implementing an agreement almost always requires proactive steps or promotion activities such as reminders to the agreement participants of reporting deadlines, commitments or other activities.
Step 6: Reporting-in
Agreements require that annual reports on progress be submitted by participants to the Government of Canada. Other reports (e.g. analytical methods, baseline emissions, verification, activity reports or recommendations) may also be required under an agreement. Reports may consist of quantitative pollution release data or qualitative descriptions of activities completed or a combination of both. Government of Canada are responsible for monitoring and reviewing reports to determine if the objectives of the agreement are being met.
Step 7: Verification of results
Verification is a core design criteria for maintaining the effectiveness and credibility of agreements, and every agreement requires it. A verification protocol is developed to provide an outline of the level, type, mechanisms and process that will be followed. Government of Canada reviews reports and shares verification results as agreed in the negotiations and as described in the verification protocol of the agreement. In keeping with the performance agreement principles and criteria, a general summary of the results of verification are made available for the public.
Step 8: Performance measurement
Measuring the performance of an agreement is important to knowing whether the agreement is on track to meet its objectives. As the Government of Canada monitors progress, reviews verification findings, keeps records and tracks deliverables, progress will be able to be measured qualitatively and quantitatively. Many performance measures may be collected to provide the information on the effectiveness at meeting the objective of the agreement.
Step 9: Reporting-out
Every active agreement must publicly report on the performance on an annual basis. The website performance report provides an opportunity for public recognition, to recognize the successes and achievements made by participants. Public reporting is equally necessary when results are less than expected and where there are good and poor performers in an agreement. Public reporting on performance is necessary to make an agreements transparent and credible.
Step 10: Final report and evaluation
A final report is developed to summarize the information about the overall outcomes achieved by the agreement and will be published online.
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