Thank you very much.
Madam Chair, honourable members, good morning. My name is Scott Vaughan. I'm the president of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
Let me begin by saying how honoured I am to be here beside John Godfrey, who's the architect, as you've just heard, of the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
My comments this morning are divided into three parts: first, some observations regarding the 2016 draft of the FSDS, federal sustainable development strategy; second, some examples of quickly emerging practices related to sustainable development; and third, why whole-of-government approaches are critical to address climate change.
First, the federal sustainable development strategy, as currently released in the February 2016 draft report, has a wealth of information that highlights various environmental initiatives across government. It is thus highly useful as a single information portal of government targets, programs, and initiatives related to the environment.
Environmental information is certainly important. At the same time, environment is one of the three pillars that comprise sustainable development. Quebec's sustainable development strategy in this regard clearly states that sustainable development does not equal the environment. Rather, sustainable development intends to bring together into an integrated fashion economic, social, and environmental priorities. The consequence of omitting one of these priorities is all too clear: the loss of public confidence and trust, or the erosion of social licence.
The second broad comment regarding the FSDS is that despite its name, it isn't a strategy. Indeed, its stated objective is to enhance transparency and accountability. It thus acts as a mirror of previously announced targets and programs. When we think of a strategy in simple terms, it's the plan or road map to get us from here to there. For many years, the “there” of sustainable development was contested or unclear, yet today it's never been clearer. The sustainable development goals that Canada and 190 countries adopted in September 2015, as well as the Paris agreement on climate change adopted by Canada and others in December 2015, set out clearly the expectations for the federal government ahead.
Let me thus turn briefly to some concrete examples of actions under way to implement the SDGs and also, in those actions, reflect a whole-of-government approach in doing so.
The first area involves data and indicators to measure and compare progress within and between countries. Earlier this month, the United Nations Statistical Commission released its draft report of the potential range of indicators to measure sustainable development. The current Canadian environmental sustainable indicators, CESI, in the FSDS, while world class in measuring environment-related data, can and should be expanded eventually to reflect the emerging consensus among national statistical agencies regarding the range of indicators.
One example, honourable members, that's useful to share is work that the IISD has done with United Way of Winnipeg in building an online suite of urban-based sustainability indicators, called Peg, which comprise 30 composite indicators that track a range of issues: household income and other economic data; various social indicators, including public health, public housing, aboriginal conditions, educational attainment, public transport, and nutrition; as well as environmental indicators. Together these help measure the pulse of the city of Winnipeg and also provide a strong empirical foundation upon which to adjust policy interventions. A key aspect of that Peg model is its commitment to community input and to public engagement.
Similarly, when looking at the SDGs at the international level, they're inviting different forms of public engagement outside of Canada. For example, the European Commission in late 2015 began public consultations across the commission regarding SDGs. In Africa, among about 12 countries, consultations involving 350,000 people are currently taking place to show how the SDGs will affect their households and their communities. In October 2015, Belarus ran a special train, an express train for the SDGs, that visited regional cities and engaged 150,000 people in what the SDGs will mean for their economy and for their people.
Perhaps the most pressing challenge regarding implementation of sustainable development, as we know, and as Mr. Godfrey has alluded to, is that of public coherence. A priority of many countries has been to build a whole-of-government coordination in SDG implementation. For example, in 2014 the German chancellor's office tasked the independent German Council for Sustainable Development to assess the national implementation dimensions of the SDGs. That report was submitted to the German chancellor in late 2015.
Similarly, in 2015, the new Finnish prime minister expressly moved their sustainable development commission from the environment ministry to the prime minister's office in order to support whole-of-government coordination. Similarly, the Jamaican prime minister established an SDG unit within that office. Colombia has been an early leader in the SDGs and has established a high-level inter-institutional commission comprising seven cabinet ministers for various responsibilities related to the SDGs, as well as a technical secretariat and committee and inter-sectoral working groups.
From these examples of whole-of-government models, let me then conclude with some observations about climate change, which by definition requires policy coordination across government.
According to the evidence of the federal Government of Canada, climate impacts will affect all regions of Canada and almost all sectors, and thus comprehensive actions involving almost all federal ministries and agencies in order to build resilience and adaptation. These range from linking climate impacts to public health and public safety/emergency responses, as well as action to increase climate-resilient infrastructure, to increased applied scientific research into anticipated climate impacts affecting Canada's freshwater lakes, rivers, forests, mines, and agriculture.
In looking at these challenges, new models are emerging to attract private finance towards adaptation efforts by using public finance to help de-risk and leverage private investments. Indeed, that's the model, the anticipated model, upon which the Paris agreement on blended finance is based.
It's exactly the same challenge on policy coordination on climate greenhouse gas mitigation. Actions to accelerate green innovation to bring low-carbon energy to scale are welcome, but to reach scale, whole-of-government approaches are needed to coordinate different federal government innovation clusters, be they the SDTC, NRCan, the NRC, and elsewhere.
Equally important to reach scale is leveraging other public policies, from reforming subsidies to fossil fuels and accelerating green public procurement and green government operations towards low-carbon examples, to championing Canadian clean exports abroad through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization and aligning Export Development Canada financing to attract private financial investment, again by de-risking and leveraging actions.
In addition to these operational examples, there is a clear recognition among many countries, including the United States, that climate change poses a national security risk, thus the need for Canada's foreign policy to have a clear climate lens to understand, for example, the links between climate impacts and fragile states, and the related climate security.
Madam Chair, these and other examples underscore the need for a whole-of-government approach, and no one I know in government favours incoherent policies, yet in practice, coordination can be immensely difficult. Harvard economist Dani Rodrik argues that precisely because of the magnitude of climate change, many jurisdictions are taking a fresh look at industrial policy to provide a clear strategic focus across governments and to have focused priority actions and outcomes.
Therefore, to conclude, the FSDS is one of the few examples of whole-of-government platforms and thus provides an important platform in your review to bring a whole-of-government approach to climate mitigation and climate adaptation.