Environmental performance agreements overview

An environmental performance agreement (agreement) is a voluntary and non-statutory instrument that allows parties with common goals to address a particular environmental issue.

Agreements can address a wide variety of environmental issues affecting the environment and human health such as reducing the use or release of chemicals, promoting product stewardship or conserving sensitive habitats. They can be used to complement a regulation, a code of practice or a pollution prevention planning notice under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.  

Using agreements

Agreements can be used throughout the risk assessment and risk management cycle. It depends on factors such as: 

  • the nature of the risk being managed
  • the performance history of companies

They may also be used to:

  • provide opportunities for industry to show leadership and take voluntary early action on environmental or health issues
  • strengthen industry capacity, promote information gathering, management systems, stewardship programs and innovation
  • promote inter-jurisdictional cooperation

Negotiating agreements

A single or multiple companies, national or regional industry associations, can negotiate an agreement with the Government of Canada. Other government agencies (federal, provincial, territorial or municipal) and third parties can also participate in such agreements.

Developing agreements

Once the parties have negotiated and drafted an agreement, it is posted for public comments for a minimum of 30 days. After the comments are reviewed and the agreement text is finalized, the final agreement is signed by the parties and posted online. Status updates are posted on the website as the agreement is implemented.

Principles and design criteria

The Government of Canada is guided by the following principles when negotiating and implementing an agreement:

  • Effectiveness: agreements must achieve measurable environmental results
  • Credibility: the public must have confidence in the approach and in the parties' capacity to deliver on their commitments
  • Transparency and accountability: all parties must be publicly accountable for the commitments they make and for their performance against the commitments
  • Efficiency: agreements should be no more expensive to the parties than alternatives for equivalent environmental results

Every agreement that is signed addresses each of the following criteria outlined in the policy framework:

  • Senior-level commitment from participants
  • Clear environmental objectives and measurable results
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Consultation with affected and interested stakeholders
  • Public reporting
  • Verification of results
  • Incentives and consequences
  • Continual improvement

For more information consult the features and design of agreements.

Summary report compiled in 2018

The Government of Canada developed a report summarizing the effectiveness of agreements, including a general summary of the results, the factors that may have influenced performance and the overall effectiveness of the instrument in managing risks from toxic and non-toxic substances.

Related information

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