Sustainable Development Strategy - Annual Report on Progress 2001-2002

Table of Contents


Sustainable development is about the long term; about integrated planning, decision making and administration; about minimizing our ecological footprint; and perhaps most importantly sustainable development is about enabling communities to reach their goals in the most socially, environmentally and economically beneficial manner possible.

The Department has made significant progress this past year in moving towards becoming a truly sustainable development oriented department. While shifting the department's culture of how it thinks and acts is a long and difficult road, the first steps have been made. Some of those steps are listed in the following section as Significant Events, a few examples follow to illustrate breadth and scope of the department's involvement. This report provides an update on progress related to the implementation of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's (INAC) Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS). It highlights progress on key issues and provides some details of progress with respect to specific targets.

It is important to recognize that INAC undertakes a wide range of activities and administers a large number of programs that relate to some aspect of Northern or Aboriginal community sustainability. Few of these activities and programs are commitments in the SDS. Progress on the implementation of all major programs can be found in the Departmental Performance Report for 2001-2002.

This report summaries progress on the implementation of the SDS along six broad themes. These themes represent progress in strategic areas that have had great influence in moving the department towards SD. This strategic approach to tracking and reporting progress is in line with the more integrated approach being used in renewing the departmental strategy.

  1. Senior management engagement in the SDS
  2. Raising awareness of SD
  3. Integration of SD into departmental processes;
  4. Responsiveness to Community needs
  5. Environmental management on reserves lands
  6. SD in the North.

Senior management engagement in the SDS

Building on last year when the Associate Deputy and Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Northern Affairs were appointed SD Champion and file leader respectively, this year regional associate directors general joined the SD champions team to expand the senior commitment. Strategy updates are now a routine quarterly agenda item on senior operations committee agenda.

On February 14th, 2002 in Maniwaki, the senior management team, chaired by the Associate Deputy Minister and including ADMs and Associate Regional Directors General, participated in a day-long session on SD and its implications for Indian and Northern Affairs. The session was also attended by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and a panel of SD experts from the private sectors, academia and Aboriginal leadership.

The interesting discussion resulted in a report containing significant recommendations related to the way INAC undertakes its business. Commitments to implement these recommendations will likely be included in the next strategy. A video of the session was produced to help raise awareness. SD T-shirts made of 100% recycled fibre were produced for this session and distributed to the senior management team and SD panellists.

Three regions, Quebec, Atlantic and B.C. have responded to one of the Maniwaki recommendations by creating cross-sectoral SD teams to provide management recommendations on SD issues. Other regions are also exploring the use of these management models.

A second recommendation arising out of Maniwaki related to the department establishing mechanisms to be more responsive to community needs. As a result, the SD champion reiterated a request for all regions to identify an Aboriginal or northern representatives to the SDS National Working Group. Most regions have identified a representative and in May 2002 these they had attended a meeting of the working group.

In order to track progress on SDS implementation more effectively, the development of a web-based tracking system is almost complete.

Regionally, significant progress was made to engage senior management and raise awareness. The Quebec Region held an SD awareness rasing session in February attended by over half of the regional staff. The Regional SD champion launched the regional SD website.

Raising awareness of SD

Raising awareness of sustainable development in general and the department's strategy specifically, is an important part of increasing the effectiveness of moving towards sustainability. To raise awareness of the SDS and its implications, several products were produced including a poster and two strategy summaries, one in pamphlet form and the other including only the charts of commitments.

This has been addressed through public forums such as presentations and displays during Environment Week and the department's internet site.

Sustainable development content of the department's website has been sampled periodically since October, 2001. The first assessments of 257 Sustainable Development Strategy web pages indicated 9.5% contained either sustainable development wording or the department's INAC logo. Six months later, this had jumped to 16.5% of the 288 pages sampled, with virtually all of the increase coming from increased wording references.

Awareness raising meetings have also been held with the major emphasis on senior departmental managers, as outlined above.

Integration of SD into Departmental Processes

The challenge of integrating the concept of SD into departmental policies, programs, decision-making and planning process and operations is large and will continue to evolve. Significant progress was made in this area during 2001-2002 and integration will be the primary focus of SDS 2004-2006.

The department's Report on Plans and Priorities developed in 2001-2002 (for 2002-2003) is highly reflective of SD in wording and concept. Work continues to more effectively blend SD goals and principles into these reports. The Socio-Economic Policy and Program sector of the department took the lead in the development of SD Assessment tools including the development of a simple SD Checklist. For use by policy analysts and program officers in their daily decision-making processes. This checklist is not meant as a thorough analytical tool, but rather as a thought-prompt and awareness raising mechanism. More work will be done in the coming years to make the checklist and other SD assessment tools more comprehensive.

Under the leadership of Environment Canada, the department has been working extensively with 10 other federal departments on the development of an SD lens - a detailed analytical framework or assessment tool to assist policy developer to ask themselves the right questions when developing policies. The lens is a very complex tool and will continue to evolve in the coming years as well as be customised by the departments who chose to use it.

INAC has influence on significant capital assets across the country. In the renewal of the departmental Long-term Capital Plan (LTCP), sustainable development issues and sound environmental management processes have been integrated. At present the LTCP is still in draft form. The department will continue to work to ensure SD and environment issues are integral parts of the finalized Plan.

Draft Northwest Territories and Nunavut mine site reclamation policies have been prepared. These new policies are to strengthen federal standards for both the protection of the environment and the reclamation of mine sites.

The Department has started a recycling program and installed a solar wall in the Yellowknife office. The recycling program in headquarters continues to be effective.

Responsiveness to Community Needs

Many mechanisms were used in 2001-2002 to facilitate the department's responsiveness to community needs, several of which stem directly from efforts to implement the SDS. The Maniwaki session, mentioned above, assisted in soliciting community needs at a high level by bringing Aboriginal community leaders together with the INAC senior management team.

Regionally, the Quebec regional office entered into a formal agreement with the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador to communicate effectively on SD issues and to assist in the formal establishment of the Sustainable Development Institute to act as a repository of SD information and an SD advocate for First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. In British Columbia, the Joint Policy and Planning Forum, comprised of representatives of INAC BC Region, and chiefs and administrators from all BC First Nations met several times in various forums to discuss priorities and help set departmental direction. This forum is used extensively as a mechanism for facilitating Aboriginal participation in discussions about sustainable development.

The SDS National Working Group has strived to be more in tune with Aboriginal community reality by ensuring all INAC regions identify an Aboriginal or northern representative to be a member of the Group. In 2001-2002 five regions had identified members. By the end of 2002, it is anticipated all regions will have found representatives who will subsequently have participated in Working Group meetings.

One of the most significant efforts associated with the implementation of the SDS involves INAC's efforts to consolidate its approach to First Nation and Inuit comprehensive community planning. A major step in developing a consolidated approach has been to work in partnership with First Nation and Inuit community members and representatives of First Nation and Inuit organizations to analyse the current state of play and to develop a work plan for the coming years. In fiscal 2001-2002, the First Nations and Inuit Comprehensive Community Planning working group was established with extensive representation from Aboriginal communities and organizations. External representation to date has been drawn from the National Aboriginal Land Managers' Association, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, various tribal councils, the Cree Tourism Authority and the Association of Economic Development Officers.

Environmental Management on Reserve Lands

Membership in the Environmental Stewardship Steering Committee was finalized in July, 2001, while terms of reference for the Committee were completed in November, 2001. An environmental stewardship strategy for reserve lands was completed in December, 2001.

Five communities have ratified the environmental assessment and environmental protection provisions in the First Nation Land Management Act, well beyond the target of three by December 2002.

SD in the North. A series of governance, resource management and environmental activities related to SDS northern commitments were initiated or completed during 2001-2002.

INAC and Foreign Affairs are leading the Canadian Sustainable Development Working Group for the Arctic Council. Canada organized a capacity building workshop for the Arctic Council in November 2001, made a major contribution to the Arctic Council's input into the World Summit on Sustainable Development, administered the Future of Children and Youth of the Arctic initiative, organized the attendance of a Canadian delegation at a conference on gender equality and women in the Arctic and supported members of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, the Gwich'in Council International and the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

In 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, the equivalent of 574,000 water samples were collected on several streams in the Yukon as part of the Yukon Placer Mining Authorization review in 2001. Instruments were located upriver and down river of mining operations, and at the headwaters and at the mouth of each river.

The waste guidelines are either released or due for release this fiscal year and the Water Monitoring Business Plan for NWT and Nunavut is in draft form.

INAC has been revising the land use guidelines which outline the department's expectations for waste management. The following directives have been developed for annual inclusion in Lands Manual:

B-6 Disposal of Lands on Islands
B-9 Land Withdrawal and Land Transfer Process - Protected Area Strategy
C-8 Agricultural Land Use - NWT
C-9 Disposal of Abandoned Property on Former Leasehold

A priorization system for all northern contaminated sites has been completed using the Northern Environmental Risk Assessment Strategy for the North as a whole as well as for the individual territories. The Contaminated Sites Management Policy has been approved.

Northern land use plans and Protected Area Strategies

Land Use Plans: The draft Gwich'in Land Use Plan (NWT) and the draft West Kitikmeot Land Use Plan (Nunavut) were developed through extensive community consultations and conform with SD principles.

Protected Areas: The community of Deline is working with Parks Canada to advance Sahyoue/Edacho National Historic Site and peninsulas of Great Bear Lake for protection. The Deh Cho First Nations have advanced Edehzhie (lakes, wetlands and important waterfowl area) as a candidate site. The Dogrib Treaty 11 Council is advancing Mohwi Trail and the Dogrib Refuge Area. The communities of Wrigley, Jean Marie River, Lutsel K'e and Deninu K'ue are also identifying priority candidate areas.

Voluntary guidelines for third party compensation in land subject to interim protection and mineral and energy resource processes in NWT, were established in the fall of 2001, and are intended to address impacts from protected areas to provide a basis for negotiated settlement.

The NWT Economic Development Advisory Forum was established. Recommendations from the forum are to respect cultural diversity, land claims, and principles and practices of sustainable development; and look for ways to promote and foster partnerships amongst governments, businesses, communities and regions.

A draft policy paper on traditional knowledge in the Northern Affairs Program has been prepared and will be made available.

Chronology of Significant Event

February, 2001. Tabling in Parliament, of the Department's second sustainable development strategy entitled Sustainable Development Strategy 2001-2003
March, 2001. The Associate Deputy Minister accepted the role of the Department's sustainable development champion, with the mission of overseeing the strategy implementation. Appoints Assistant Deputy Minister of the Northern Affairs Program as operational lead on the file.
August, 2001. The establishment of a two-person sustainable development unit whose broad cross-sectoral mandate includes coordinating strategy implementation, monitoring and reporting on progress, raising departmental awareness and initiating work on the next strategy.
September, 2001. Deputy Minister requests that an SDS update be made a standing quarterly agenda item at Operation Committee.
October, 2001. The release of the report by the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development to the House of Commons on the audit of federal departments sustainable development strategies.
November, 2001. Formation of the Department's working group on First Nation and Inuit comprehensive community planning under the direction of the Socio?economic Planning Program. Meeting of the Department's Sustainable Development Strategy National Working Group in Ottawa. Under the overall coordination of the SD unit, this working group tackles the departments commitments regarding communications, training, assessment tools and SDS management. The working group is also the forum for strategy renewal. Appointment of regional SD champions. The associate regional directors general have been invited by the Associate Deputy to champion the sustainable development cause within their regions.
February, 2002. The first SD learning session for the Department, attended by the Commissioner, the Associate Deputy, external SD experts and many of the ADMs and regional champions, as well as the national working group and some observers from other departments. The second meeting of the national SD Working Group which, in addition to being updated on progress on the current strategy, discussed future direction for the Department in its strategy renewal process for the 2004-2006.
May, 2002. Meeting of the national SDS working group with a primary focus on strategy renewal. This was the first meeting of the working group expanded to include First Nations representation.

For detailed information contact the SDS Unit office at 953-6253.