Twenty years after the Earth Summit much has been done to address the environmental and development challenges identified in 1992. However, many of the challenges still exist, others have grown more acute and new issues have emerged. It is clear that progress needs to be more comprehensive and effective.
The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in June 2012 in Brazil is an opportunity to reinvigorate efforts towards sustainable development through an international renewal of political commitment that highlights the economic importance of the sustainable use of natural resources and raises awareness of the economic and social costs of environmental damage and its associated impact on human well-being.
The Government of Canada’s approach to sustainable development emphasizes transparency and accountability in the integration of sustainability into government planning, reporting, programming and decision-making within the federal government. The cornerstone to this approach is Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), which is an integrated, whole-of-government, results-based approach to achieve sustainability. A key component of the FSDS is the effective monitoring and reporting on goals and targets using indicators in order to track effectively and report on progress. The Government of Canada considers sustainability issues through its Cabinet Committee structure. Canada has many national institutions that address various aspects of sustainable development and that are part of the overall supportive framework for sustainable development in Canada.
Over the last ten years, Canada has provided important contributions to the efforts of developing countries towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Canadian development assistance has been significantly increased and Canada is working to make its assistance more effective, accountable and responsive to the needs and priorities of developing countries. Canada doubled its international assistance from 2001 to 2010, with assistance to Africa doubling from 2003/04 to 2008/09. Canada has been a first-mover on announcing and disbursing against its 2009 G8 L’Aquila Summit commitments to support sustainable agricultural development. As of April 2011, Canada has fully disbursed its $1.18 billion L’Aquila commitment and is the first G8 country to do so. Canada has launched significant new initiatives to support maternal, newborn and child health (the 2010 G8 Muskoka Initiative), education and food security in developing countries, with a clear focus on sustainability of effort and impacts.
A critical component of Canada’s Aid Effectiveness Agenda in support of the Paris Declaration is ensuring that aid is effective, accountable and responsive to the needs and priorities of its developing country partners. One means of achieving this is through the establishment of gender equality, governance and environmental sustainability as cross-cutting themes that are integrated into development assistance.
Canada believes that countries need to focus and strengthen efforts on the management of their natural resources in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. These efforts should include policies that improve natural resource management, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
Particular attention should be given to assisting countries that face significant capacity challenges. Canada has taken a leadership role in corporate social responsibility (CSR) by launching in 2009 its CSR Strategy for the Canadian extractive sector operating abroad. The Strategy includes support for host country resource governance capacity-building initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; endorsement and promotion of widely-recognized international CSR performance guidelines such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and the creation of the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor.
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