Toward a National Sustainable Development Strategy for Canada: Putting Canada on the Path to Sustainability within a Generation cover

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According to several recent studies, Canada has among the worst environmental record of any developed country, ranking 28th out of 30 OECD countries. Without changes, Canada risks continuing deterioration of its environment, human health, quality of life, and international reputation. Action to address Canada's poor environmental performance is therefore urgent.

Canada committed to addressing its environmental challenge by developing a national sustainable development strategy (NSDS) in 1992 at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, the Earth Summit + 5 in 1997 and the World Summit in 2002. More than 20 nations have fulfilled their commitment to develop an NSDS. Canada, however, has not met its international obligations to develop an NSDS.

In 2004, the David Suzuki Foundation responded to Canada's failure to develop an NSDS by producing its own plan to achieve sustainability entitled Sustainability within a Generation. The purpose of this report is to outline a policy proposal to help implement sustainability within a generation, and fulfill Canada's international commitment to develop an NSDS. The proposal is for the federal government to adopt a National Sustainability Act (NSA) that will provide the legal framework for developing a National Sustainable Development Strategy in Canada that will make Canada a world leader in sustainable development. It is also proposed that provinces adopt a provincial version of the National Sustainability Act to provide a legal framework for developing provincial sustainable development strategies that complement the national strategy.

The report begins with an overview of sustainable development planning in Canada.
Sustainable development planning is then evaluated against international best practices. A draft of the proposed NSA is provided in appendix one of this report.