Appendix 2 - Consultations

The Guide to Green Government, a federal governance document, requires that departments and agencies perform internal and external consultations with prospective clients, partners, and other stakeholders on departmental priorities for sustainable development. In addition, the Auditor General Act requires that updates to sustainable development strategies be performed in consultation with stakeholders.

The Agency developed a consultation strategy to ensure that meaningful, efficient, and effective consultations took place throughout the development of its third sustainable development strategy. The strategy laid out a plan to consult primarily with internal stakeholders, as it was anticipated that our third strategy would continue to focus on internal issues and opportunities for sustainable development. The desired outcome of the consultations was to involve stakeholders in setting the direction for bridging the second and third strategies, and defining our future direction for sustainable development.

The Finance and Administration Branch, Real Property and Sustainable Development Directorate, Sustainable Development Division-Office of Primary Interest for Sustainable Development-led both internal and external consultations. The Sustainable Development Unit within the Sustainable Development Division coordinated consultations.

Internal consultations

Throughout the development of the sustainable development strategy, we received guidance and support from Senior Management and the Board of Management. This helped set our future direction for sustainable development, and explore how to ensure success when implementing the strategy.

We held five formal consultations with the Sustainable Development (SD) Network, which is made up of 48 appointed representatives from all business lines and regions of the Agency. These consultations enabled us to define a future direction for sustainable development, build content for the update of the strategy, and capture commitments for the action plan. We communicated with the SD Network through a consultation website with online feedback forms, face-to-face meetings, and a national internal Sustainable Development Forum held in May 2002. The SD Network consulted with their respective branch/regional sustainable development committees and senior management.

We also consulted with the national Environmental Management System Committee (EMSC). EMSC consultations were often more technical and mainly concerned Goal 1 of the strategy - to reduce the effects of our operations on land, air, and water.

We invited the SD Network and EMSC to provide input into the strategy updating process including assessing the second strategy; an issue scan; developing long-term outcomes, goals, and objectives; and developing shorter-term targets and activities for the action plan. Overall, we learned that no new issues had surfaced since our last consultation in 2000. We learned that we still have much work left to do before we see final outcomes of our goals. This confirmed that the third strategy should be considered an update, and we should continue to focus on employee awareness and integrating sustainable development into our operations and programs.

Our consultations also revealed a need for increased employee awareness of sustainable development across the Agency. We were asked to provide more tools, guidance, and training for employees responsible for integrating sustainable development into their annual planning, reporting, and auditing functions. We were also asked to provide a more meaningful definition of sustainable development for employees so that they can understand how it relates to their work.

All employees were invited to comment on the strategy update through the internal SD Web site on InfoZone. In addition, we used various events throughout 2003 as opportunities to consult on ideas for the update of the strategy. Overall, few comments were submitted by employees. The comments that were received focused on specific issues such as the need for employee commuting options and reduction of internal paper use.

We plan to develop a communications strategy to launch the third sustainable development strategy in 2004 that will raise employee awareness and encourage on-going dialogue on our sustainable development initiatives. This feedback will help implement the sustainable development strategy over the next three years and strengthen planning for the 2007-2011 strategy.

External consultations

We did not undertake formal consultations with public stakeholders given the internal focus of the third strategy. However, we revised the sustainable development Web page on the external Agency Internet site and invited the public to submit ideas on the strategy update. We did not receive any comments.

To learn more about the traditional knowledge of Aboriginal peoples regarding the protection of the environment, we consulted an Aboriginal elder at a Kumik ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec in January 2003. The elder confirmed the basic yet necessary actions for sustainable development. She counselled us to be good custodians of the earth, and not to squander its resources. She advised us to continue to consult with Aboriginal elders about traditional knowledge during the implementation of the strategy, as we can learn much from their teachings.

To learn from other departments and explore commitments across government, we participated in several consultation sessions conducted by other federal government departments including the former department of Human Resources Development Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and the Department of Finance. We also responded to invitations from several departments to comment on their draft strategies, attended all meetings held by the Interdepartmental Network of SD Strategies, and participated in discussions with other departments on shared commitments, common look and feel of federal strategies, setting priorities, and defining a federal vision for sustainable development.

In developing the strategy, we followed the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) guidance document Sustainable Development Strategies: Making a Difference 2003. The document guides federal departments and agencies in preparing their strategies. We also met with CESD auditors to review the expectations in the document.

In summary, we were able to secure some collaborative commitments with other government departments. The commitments are internal and fall within the scope of Goal 1 and Goal 2. We will partner with Environment Canada on climate change and greenhouse gas reduction targets and work travel initiatives, and with Transport Canada on developing an employee commuter options program.

We will continue to pursue ongoing dialogue on sustainable development with the extensive network of special interest groups and advisory committees and federal-provincial partnerships related to our business lines. We are addressing this issue in Goal 2: Our programs demonstrate sustainable service delivery. This relies on a high level of awareness and understanding of sustainable development issues and opportunities.

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