Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Statement of ACOA’s Contribution to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy

Website component of the 2014-15 Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy[i]

1.   Overview of the Federal Government’s Approach to Sustainable Development

The 2013-16 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), tabled on November 4, 2013, guides the Government of Canada’s 2013-16 sustainable development activities. The FSDS articulates Canada’s federal sustainable development priorities for a period of three years, as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA). The purpose of the FSDA is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that will make environmental decision making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) supports the implementation of the FSDS through the activities found in this departmental strategy.

2.   Sustainable Development Management System

ACOA is a participant in the FSDS. The FSDS represents a major step forward for the Government of Canada by including environmental sustainability and strategic environmental assessment as an integral part of its decision-making processes. ACOA is implicated under Theme I, “Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality,” and under Theme IV, “Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government.”

ACOA will set an example in its internal operations by:

  • pursuing best practices in environmental management and pollution prevention, including recycling and waste reduction. This will be achieved through the Greening of Government Operations targets as defined in Theme IV and through the use of existing Public Works and Government Services Canada standing offers.
  • participating in the following sustainable development interdepartmental working groups: FSDS Associate Deputy Minister Committee, FSDS Director General Committee.
  • educating ACOA staff on environmental issues and concerns, and providing them with the resources needed to carry out the Agency’s sustainable development agenda.
  • setting measurable targets, reporting ACOA’s progress, and reviewing Agency contributions to the FSDS on an annual basis through the Agency’s Main Estimates process.

3.   Strategic Environmental Assessment

ACOA ensures that its decision-making process includes consideration of the FSDS goals and targets through the strategic environmental assessment (SEA). An SEA for policy, plan or program proposals includes an analysis of the impacts of the proposal on the environment, including the FSDS goals and targets. The results of SEAs are made public when an initiative is announced or approved, demonstrating that environmental factors were integrated into the decision-making process.

4.   Agency Implementation Strategies Identified in Themes I-III of the FSDS

The Atlantic Energy Gateway (AEG) process was initiated by the Government of Canada with the objective of enhancing regional co-operation toward the development of Atlantic Canada’s clean energy resources. Managed by ACOA and Natural Resources Canada, with the Atlantic Provinces and regional utilities, research work under the AEG found significant potential benefits from regional collaboration in this sector, including cost efficiencies, greater diversity in clean and renewable energy supplies, enhanced stability for ratepayers and much lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Atlantic Canada. Over the study period (2015 to 2040), regional GHG emissions could fall by 37 percent, to 7.8 megatonnes annually. Coordinated by the Atlantic Canada Energy Office, the AEG initiative seeks to facilitate development of the Atlantic renewable energy sector by fostering collaboration, common understanding and communication among governments and the private sector in order to maximize and expedite the development of renewable energy resources in the region.

A significant degree of collaboration with the four Atlantic Provinces, and other federal departments, principally Natural Resources Canada, is required to coordinate policy discussions and study work under the AEG initiative. In this respect, the AEG speaks to the Advocacy (1.3.2) and Coordination (1.3.3) components of the Agency’s program alignment architecture.

The AEG seeks to achieve its objective by working in two broad areas:

  • System Planning and Operations Modelling – examines the costs, benefits and mechanics of greater systems integration in the Atlantic region by developing a plan for resource development and operations, modelling transmission planning and exploring options for system and market operations.
  • Regulatory and Economic Development - examines various issues related to the development of the Atlantic region’s clean energy industry, including regulatory and land use planning, market development challenges and opportunities, supply chain development opportunities, and best practices in innovation and commercialization of research.

The AEG supports the first goal of the FSDS: climate change. Through the FSDS, the federal government has committed to “reduce greenhouse gas emission levels and adapt to unavoidable impacts in order to mitigate the effects of climate change/”[ii] Strategies to meet this goal include “the development and generation of renewable energy and support [for] energy efficiency.”[iii] The work of the AEG supports this strategy and will assist Atlantic Canada in developing a low-carbon economy.

5.   Additional Agency Sustainable Development Activities

In Atlantic Canada, ACOA is also helping to develop more competitive, resource-efficient and sustainable businesses and communities through its funding programs.

6.   ACOA’s Supplementary Table – Theme IV

Details regarding ACOA’s sustainable development commitments identified in Theme IV are available in ACOA’s supplementary table Greening Government Operations.

[i] Together the sustainable development content contained on this website and the 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities is considered the 2014-15 Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy.

[iii] Ibid.