Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
My name is Dave Collyer. I am the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. With me today is Dave Pryce, who is the vice-president of operations at CAPP, and three representatives from our member companies: Richard Dunn from Encana Corporation, Murray Elliott from Shell, and Gordon Lambert with Suncor.
I'm going to provide an overview of our industry's approach to conservation and our views on the proposed plan, after which member representatives will provide examples of the various conservation tools and practices they employ within their respective corporations. Then I'll conclude with some very brief comments.
You may have noticed that I skipped Brenda Kenny. Brenda will have separate remarks from CEPA, the pipeline association.
Let me start by saying that CAPP is supportive of efforts to develop a broad vision for conservation in Canada. That being said, it's important to recognize that conservation involves many governments and a multitude of stakeholders. In that context, we would propose that it would be more constructive, and I think realistic, to focus on development of what we would call a national conservation framework, which establishes broad goals, principles, and priorities under which conservation would be advanced in Canada, rather than what would be perhaps a more prescriptive—and perhaps less realistic and achievable—national conservation plan. In our view, this is more than a semantic difference, and we would encourage the committee to consider repositioning this initiative along those lines. We can address that further in questions, if you wish.
From our perspective, a national conservation framework, or NCF, as I'll refer to it going forward, should align federal, provincial, and territorial conservation initiatives under one broad framework; it should provide a model for integrated planning that realizes both environmental performance and economic growth; and it should provide leadership and direction with regard to the policy and regulatory challenges that Canada faces in supporting and advancing conservation and biodiversity.
I should note that while this presentation will focus on land-based conservation, we believe that the framework I'll be describing is in most respects equally applicable to marine conservation.
Let me start with a few comments on conservation principles. We've consistently articulated three principles that we believe should be the broad basis for environmental policy and regulation. They should also inform the development of a national conservation framework.
The first principle is balance. The NSF should focus on conservation within a policy context that concurrently advances environmental performance, economic growth, and energy security and reliability.
Second, the NCF should address intra- and intergovernmental coordination. In our view, the NCF should serve to align interests within and among governments to reduce overlap and duplication and to improve both efficiency and effectiveness. Importantly, it should also strive to integrate conservation and biodiversity considerations into a broader planning framework. An example is the land use planning work under way in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
Third, there should be clarity and predictability in the process. The NCF should provide stakeholders with clarity and predictability with regard to government policy as it pertains to conservation and biodiversity.
Importantly, in developing an NCF, aboriginal consultation must be considered by governments. We highlight the ongoing need to improve the aboriginal consultation process for the benefit of all parties.
Finally, we would observe that consideration of the NCF is, in our view, very well aligned and entirely compatible with the government's broader actions to encourage and enable responsible resource development in Canada.
I also want to talk a little bit about defining the scope of conservation strategies. We would encourage the committee to take a broad view of the scope of conservation to encourage innovation and excellence in land use approaches and to enable the application of a diversity of conservation tools.
We think there are three dimensions of conservation the committee should consider, while being flexible in how these strategies are applied in specific circumstances.
The first dimension is reducing impacts. What we mean by that is reducing the surface impact of our activity, applying adaptive management techniques, and then monitoring impacts and responding accordingly.
The second dimension is reclamation and restoration. It is imperative that consideration be given to temporal approaches. What we mean by that is allowing land use in the near term with a view to establishing conservation areas over time. Ongoing improvements in reclamation and restoration would allow lands that have been disturbed to be returned to a state that supports both conservation and biodiversity objectives.
The third dimension of the conservation strategy relates to protected areas. We recognize that in some cases it may be necessary to set aside high-value areas and preclude or severely limit use to achieve conservation and biodiversity objectives. However, I think those decisions need to be taken with a full understanding of the opportunity cost of precluding activity.
We would also add that in addition to the above dimensions, the NCF should enable industry to make informed decisions about where and how to contribute to national conservation priorities. Where appropriate, they could make voluntary conservation investments, potentially through public-private partnerships or in partnership with conservation organizations that align with their own corporate stewardship programs. You will hear more about that from our member representatives.
There are a number of what we would see as key foundational elements for an effective national conservation framework. Many of these are informed by what is in place and is working today. We would say that a conservation framework must be structured to enable the best-placed regulatory or government authority to lead the development and delivery of conservation initiatives. It should be characterized by effective and inclusive decision-making processes. Sound science should inform policy and regulatory decisions pertaining to conservation and biodiversity. But science alone should not be determinative.
A conservation framework must allow for flexibility and balance in establishing conservation objectives and strategies. A conservation framework must establish a comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, and reporting system to track performance and to inform adaptive management strategies.
Finally, a conservation framework must enable collaboration among industry and non-governmental organizations that are committed to addressing conservation objectives in innovative ways.
As noted, there is a lot of good conservation work under way today. The system is by no means broken, but collectively we believe that it can do better. In considering an NCF, we suggest that the committee focus on opportunities for improvement in conservation and biodiversity outcomes that address the following areas.
First is collaboration. Enhance engagement and collaboration in both policy development and implementation among diverse interests that have a stake in conservation and biodiversity.
On technology and innovation, the advancement of innovative conservation and biodiversity tools and approaches can be accelerated through improved industry collaboration and information sharing—the recently formed Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, or COSIA, is an example of that—along with more effective interfaces among industry, government, academia, research, and other institutions.
On alignment, a more consistent approach will drive progress and encourage shared responsibility and ownership among diverse stakeholders.
On integration, conservation is not a policy island unto itself, but rather the conservation framework must be integrated into broader environmental policy and regulation.
On adequate resourcing, NCF will require long-term, durable funding and resourcing commitments.
Finally, on education, as it applies to many other areas of the energy and environment arena, there is a need for improved public understanding of conservation and biodiversity, and of how these fit into the broader policy and regulatory framework for responsible development of natural resources in Canada.
Mr. Chairman and committee, that provides a broad overview of our industry's perspective on the national conservation framework, as we would prefer it to be referred to. I'm now going to turn over the discussion to our member representatives, who will provide some examples of how they approach this matter within their own companies. They will provide some examples of the application of conservation and biodiversity initiatives.
Murray Elliott of Shell will start.