Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2016 to 2019 management framework: chapter 7

Engagement and communications approach

Engaging and communicating with stakeholders and partners throughout the three-year cycle of the strategy is an important means to achieving the transparency mandate of the act. It also supports the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, and the Consultation and Public Engagement section of the Mandatory Procedures for Public Opinion Research.    

The 2016 to 2019 strategy includes a commitment to ongoing engagement and to update the strategy continually as policies are developed and initiatives launched. Implementing the strategy requires the commitment of ECCC and its partners throughout the federal government as well as provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and Canadians. It is for these reasons that the Sustainable Development Office emphasizes engagement and communications.

Based on the “Plan, Do, Check and Improve” system outlined earlier, the government is committed to ensuring that each cycle of the strategy builds on lessons learned, current best practices and the expertise of others. Accordingly, engagement plays an important role in meeting the commitment to consider stakeholder comments when planning, implementing and reporting on the strategy. The Sustainable Development Office, in collaboration with ECCC’s Public and Indigenous Affairs and Ministerial Services Branch and other federal departments and agencies, leads strategy engagement.   

7.1 Objectives of engagement

The Sustainable Development Office, with the support of all federal departments and agencies, undertakes a range of engagement activities to provide information, build awareness and enhance use of the strategy among stakeholders.

7.2 Target audiences and activities

Recognizing the importance of engagement and in accordance with the act [section 9(3)], the development of each new strategy is informed by a 120-day public consultation period. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change provides a draft of each new strategy to the commissioner, the council, parliamentarians and the Canadian public. In addition, the draft strategy is provided to other key stakeholders such as other levels of government, Indigenous groups, non-profit organizations, business and industry associations, and academia. The results of this engagement inform the development of the final strategy, and are reported through a publicly available synthesis report.

Beyond the formal consultation period every three years, the Sustainable Development Office engages stakeholders on an ongoing basis by means of both web-based and traditional approaches. Activities include, for example, face-to-face information and outreach sessions, online webinars, and social media updates. The Sustainable Development Office will continue to proactively engage a range of stakeholders and partners as it implements the 2016 to 2019 strategy and prepares the next draft strategy.

7.3 Strategic communications

Communicating about the strategy, its progress reports, Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI), and opportunities for public consultation is important for furthering the transparency and accountability of the Government of Canada’s environmental sustainability activities. The Sustainable Development Office works in collaboration with ECCC’s Public and Indigenous Affairs and Ministerial Services Branch, which leads communications activities for the strategy and CESI. Related communications products and activities include:

  • maintaining the strategy and CESI websites
  • maintaining a GCpedia site
  • media releases
  • social media

A strategic communications strategy is developed for each strategy and progress report. The strategic communications strategy includes such items as:

  • communications objectives and considerations
  • analysis of public environment
  • anticipated reaction
  • storyline and core government messages
  • announcement strategy
  • supporting communications tools
  • evaluation methods
  • budget
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