Environment Canada's science strategy 2014-2019: appendix 2

Appendix II: Specific mechanisms to implement the strategy’s principles

Enhancing linkages between science producers, science users and decision-makers

Annual horizontal priority-setting exercises

Bringing science producers and users together from across the Department annually to discuss their science needs and priorities helps strengthen linkages and align science activities to Departmental priorities. Horizontal planning meetings on themes such as air, chemicals, water, specific ecosystems, wildlife, weather and climate could be held prior to the departmental planning cycle to allow for incorporation into existing planning processes. Horizontal planning already occurs in some parts of the Department; this initiative would broaden and formalize it. The integrated approach of the Meteorological Service of Canada and the Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate is an example of a best practice.

Collaborative information-sharing platforms

In order for the Department’s science to remain responsive to users and policy needs, it is important to share information openly and continually. Online platforms open to all staff within Environment Canada (EC) have already begun to facilitate this sharing of information. A platform focused on science planning could allow science producers to post details of research projects and findings, and allow science users to outline their program’s scientific needs. The platform would help forge new connections across the Department, and would allow for greater collaboration on projects and initiatives of mutual interest and expertise.

Science engagement - “EC Science Connect”

Scientific staff and managers from across scientific and technical disciplines within the Department could meet annually or as needed to discuss emerging environmental issues and provide advice to managers. This could build on a model of issue-based forums convened by senior managers.

Science Alert

Environment Canada maintains a database of peer-reviewed publications called Science Alert. Notifications of new publications are delivered on demand to subscribers within the Department. This database has great potential as a tool to bring relevant science information to decision-makers, and to Canadians. Strengthening the policy relevance and uptake of this tool could increase its utility in helping keep senior managers and science users abreast of the Department’s scientific activities. Opening the database to the public would help keep Canadians at large informed of the ongoing science Environment Canada produces.

Improving science infrastructure

Data management

Environment Canada’s ability to manage and analyze data has not kept pace with its ability to collect and store data. Collecting, sharing, using and making the most of the Department’s data require constant effort. Proper systems must be in place and data must be maintained, organized, accessible, integrated and properly contextualized. Environment Canada will take steps to catalogue, standardize, describe and integrate its wealth of data to improve access to and use of its data. It will also work to update electronic data submission systems critical for regulatory development.

Open government science

Transparency, collaboration and excellence are hallmarks of good science. Opening Environment Canada’s science to partners and Canadians will improve the uptake, reuse and impact of the Department’s science activities, and will allow for greater dialogue across disciplines and sectors. This may include increasing open access to data and publications, and exploring more open and collaborative approaches to conducting science. It will also help strengthen capacity within and outside Environment Canada to anticipate, respond, and adapt to changing environmental issues and conditions.

Weather and monitoring instrumentation

Maintaining leading-edge technology and instrumentation is crucial to support and enable world-class science. The Government of Canada has committed to revitalize Canada’s weather services through new investments in infrastructure such as the supercomputer, radars and surface weather and climate monitoring stations.

Scientific integrity and quality management

In order to maintain high standards for excellence and transparency, Environment Canada follows internationally accepted scientific practices and standards in many of its scientific, program and service activities. This includes accreditation of analytical laboratories, quality assurance and quality control of data collection, and integrated quality management systems governing weather and water monitoring. The Department will work to broaden and implement new quality management processes. One activity will be to follow the lead of top science institutions around the world by developing a Science Integrity Policy to support our scientists in maintaining high standards of excellence.

Cross-department project teams

In order to support high-priority projects and issues, the Department will support the establishment of cross-department teams to tackle priority science issues as needs arise. These teams would be modelled on the Department’s approach to deploying cross-disciplinary expertise to large-scale projects, such as the Chemicals Management Plan or the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda. These teams would allow managers to use similar approaches for smaller-scale or shorter-term projects. These teams will draw upon Environment Canada’s wide range of skills and expertise, from scientific research to engineering to economic analysis to law enforcement, and will provide staff with opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, leadership development and learning.

The following table links the mechanisms to the Strategy’s five principles. These principles will be used as a framework to develop specific metrics to track progress in implementing the mechanisms. The goal is to use these mechanisms to put the principles into practice.

Summary of mechanisms to implement the five principles: Linking science with users and decision makers
Linking science with users and decision-makers Principle of Relevance Principle of Transparency Principle of Responsiveness Principle of Excellence Principle of Collaboration
Annual horizontal
yes not applicable (n/a) n/a n/a yes
yes yes yes n/a yes
"EC Science Connect" yes n/a yes yes yes
Science Alert n/a yes yes yes n/a
 Summary of mechanisms to implement the five principles: Improving science infrastructure
Improving science infrastructure Principle of Relevance Principle of Transparency Principle of Responsiveness Principle of Excellence Principle of Collaboration
Data management n/a yes n/a yes yes
Open government science n/a yes n/a yes yes
Weather and monitoring instrumentation n/a n/a yes yes yes
Science integrity and quality management n/a yes n/a yes n/a
Cross-department project teams yes n/a yes yes yes
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