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A sustainable development vision for Canada

Our vision and principles

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What is sustainable development

Our vision for a sustainable Canada is guided by the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The Act defines sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

From an environmental perspective, that means achieving low-carbon, environmentally responsible economic growth, maintaining and restoring our ecosystems, and ensuring Canadians can flourish in clean and healthy environments.

Our vision

Our 2016–2019 FSDS presented the vision that Canada is one of the greenest countries in the world and our quality of life continues to improve. By updating the previous strategy, the 2019–2022 FSDS continues to support that vision.

Our principles

Our 2019–2022 FSDS demonstrates our commitment to the principles set out in the Federal Sustainable Development Act: the precautionary principle and the principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources.

The precautionary principle is based on the concept that where there are potential threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. Our commitment to preventing environmental degradation is reflected throughout our strategy—for example, in goals and targets related to climate action, wildlife, lands and forests, freshwater, and coasts and oceans.

The strategy also reflects the principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources. Targets across the FSDS—for example, on clean growth, modern and resilient infrastructure, and building safe and healthy communities—reflect a commitment to advance economic and social objectives without harming the environment.

The 2019–2022 FSDS also reflects other important principles. In particular:

  • in support of the principle of intergenerational equity, it demonstrates our commitment to conserve lands, water and wildlife and to address problems we face today—such as climate change—that threaten the well-being of future generations
  • in support of the principle of openness and transparency, it brings our sustainable development priorities, goals, targets and actions together in one place and will thus enable parliamentarians and Canadians to track what we’re doing for a greener Canada
  • in support of the principle that it is important to involve Indigenous peoples, it acknowledges the vital contributions that Indigenous peoples, governments and organizations make to sustainable development and to achieving our environmental sustainability goals and targets
  • in support of the principle of collaboration, it provides the basis for comments and input from partners, Canadians and stakeholders that helped to shape our final strategy; departments and agencies across government will also work collaboratively to achieve our goals and targets
  • in support of the principle that a results and delivery approach is key to meeting measurable targets, it includes specific, measurable and time-bound targets, supported by indicators, that clearly define what we want to achieve

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