Innovation, Science, Environment 1987-2007

Innovation, Science, Environment 1987-2007: Special Edition: Charting Sustainable Development in Canada, 1987-2007

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Innovation, Science, Environment 1987-2007
    Book Description:

    Contributors analyse a number of dimensions of the Canadian experience in implementing sustainable development and critically assess how the country has done over this twenty year period. They discuss both the breakthroughs and disappointments of the Canadian experience, and look toward the future to discuss what additional steps need to be undertaken domestically if Canada is to once again achieve a position of leadership in the world and get on a truly sustainable trajectory.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7635-3
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
    Glen Toner and James Meadowcroft
  4. 1 Engaging with Sustainable Development: Setting the Canadian Experience in Context
    (pp. 3-20)

    This volume assesses the progress Canada has made in taking up the challenge of sustainable development and perspectives for the future. More than twenty years have now passed since the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) publishedOur Common Future, launching the idea of sustainable development onto the world stage.¹ Over this period the idiom of sustainability has become embedded in Canada’s political vocabulary. Sustainable development is mentioned in federal legislation and features in the mandates of several departments. The country has a Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development and in 2008 Parliament adopted a Federal Sustainable...

  5. 2 Why Aren’t We There Yet? Twenty Years of Sustainable Development: A Personal View
    (pp. 21-29)

    I remember a conversation with a journalist a few months ago in which he breathlessly told me that environment was the top-of-mind issue in Canadian polls for the first time ever, supplanting national security, unemployment, health care and the like. And he wanted to know what I thought of that.

    And that got me thinking that I had heard all this before. It was in 1988–89. And the issue continued to score in the polls until 1992.

    At that time, Canada was the most advanced country on earth in terms of sustainable development. The Brundtland Commission had held hearings...

  6. 3 Institutionalizing Sustainable Development: The Role of Governmental Institutions
    (pp. 30-53)

    In an ideal world, scientific investigation and analysis inform political debate and lead to policy changes. The 1980 World Conservation Strategy (WCS) was a good example. It employed the leading scientific research to take the pulse of the global ecological system and concluded that human kind was having a significant negative impact on the environment. Poverty, population pressures, social inequity, and the terms of trade were resulting in significant habitat destruction. The diplomats at the United Nations heeded the warning of the scientists as they debated the WCS. The result was the establishment in 1983 of the World Commission on...

  7. 4 Post-Brundtland 2007: Governance for Sustainable Development as if It Mattered
    (pp. 54-71)

    As the 21st century progresses, the inability of our outmoded governmental institutions to address the deeply complex ecological, economic, and social challenges that we face is increasingly apparent. In 1987, the Brundtland Commission warned that:

    The integrated and interdependent nature of the new challenges and issues contrasts sharply with the nature of the institutions that exist today. These institutions tend to be independent, fragmented, and working to narrow mandates with closed decision processes. Those responsible for managing natural resources and protecting the environment are institutionally separated from those responsible for managing the economy. The real world of interlocked, economic, and...

  8. 5 Polls, Politics, and Sustainability
    (pp. 72-94)

    The transformation of industrialized, resource dependent and urbanized societies like Canada’s in the direction of environmental sustainability presents significant challenges. Placing our economy and society on a more sustainable basis will require major changes in current patterns of energy and materials production and use, while maintaining economic prosperity and social well-being. It has been estimated, for example, that to achieve sustainability worldwide, the material intensity of each unit of economic output will need to be reduced by 50 percent and, in industrial countries like Canada, it will have to fall by factors of between 4 and 10.¹ Reductions in emissions...

  9. 6 The Politics of Sustainability in a Complex Federal State
    (pp. 95-105)

    Although climate change is not a new public policy issue,¹ the recent popularity ofAn Inconvenient Truth, aggressive policy initiatives such as California’s low carbon fuel standard, and the ongoing debate about emission reduction targets and how to meet them have made it one of the most important public policy topics of the day. Indeed, governments across Canada and around the world are exploring a wide range of policy responses to growing public concern. Admittedly, debate over the science of climate change and the impact of human activity on global warming continues, but this debate is essentially moot from a...

  10. 7 Education for Sustainable Development: Cure or Placebo?
    (pp. 106-130)

    Our Common Future, the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (more commonly known as the Brundtland Report), wasa– perhapsthe– seminal document in the emergence of sustainable development discourse, policies and practices. Despite its comprehensive discussion of SD issues and challenges, theReportdevotes relatively little attention to education. Noting the imbalance between developed and developing countriesOur Common Futurecalls for increased literacy overall and reduced gaps between male and female primary education enrolment rates. Linked to this concern for extending basic education globally is a brief discussion of the importance of improved environmental education,...

  11. 8 Canadian Business and the Sustainability Challenge: Engagement and Performance
    (pp. 131-155)

    Business and industry have a crucial role to play in achieving sustainable development in Canada.¹ If we examine just one issue – climate change – it is salient to note that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) estimated that in 2003 Canadian industry accounted for 38% of energy usage in Canada and 34% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.² ³ Environment Canada’s 2005 report on GHG emissions⁴ summarized data based on industry sectors from 1990 to 2005. In that period there was an overall 25.3 percentincreasein emissions. The greatest increase associated with stationary sources of energy consumption was in the mining sector (151.9%),...

  12. 9 A Child of Brundtland: The Institutional Evolution of the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy
    (pp. 156-180)

    The National Round Table on the Environment and Economy (NRTEE) is an institution tasked with no small feat “to identify, explain and promote the concept of sustainable development for all sectors and regions of the nation.”¹ This chapter will begin by tracing the genesis of the NRTEE and go on to examine the institutional evolution the NRTEE has undergone since its inception. The chapter will discuss both the failures and successes of the NRTEE and conclude with a brief look at what lies ahead.

    The government of Canada worked actively to bring the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED)...

  13. 10 The Best of Brundtland: The Story of the International Institute for Sustainable Development
    (pp. 181-202)

    The Brundtland Commission’s reportOur Common Futureprovided a number of recommendations which, along with the highly popular definition of SD, led to visible institutional changes in Canada. Arguably the most successful of the institutional changes made in the wake of this report was the creation of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

    In the twenty years since the release ofOur Common Future, this institution has had the opportunity to grow, mature and come into its own. Today, IISD is internationally recognized for its work. But, while IISD is a very successful institution, it is not entirely representative of...

  14. 11 Advocate or Auditor? The Conflicted Role of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
    (pp. 203-229)

    Sustainable development (SD) requires a fundamental change in the values and operation of government and society. Change is often difficult, even when necessary. The Canadian government has encountered significant challenges in its effort to mainstream SD into government practice as other issues such as national unity, the fiscal deficit, and health care have often distracted parliamentarians from this long-term issue. Progress on SD requires commitment and adaptation from the business community, all levels of governments, and society as a whole; “sustainable development cannot simply be “delivered” by politicians and officials, but demands an active and creative input from all sectors...

  15. 12 Building a Sustainable Development Infrastructure in Canada: The Genesis and Rise of Sustainable Development Technology Canada
    (pp. 230-252)

    Sustainable development (SD), as popularised by the World Commission on Environment and Development (also known as the Brundtland Commission) definition inOur Common Future, entails meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This will involve a radical departure from our current modes of production and consumption, and provides an enormous opportunity for Canada, rich in natural resources, to find new processes to protect, conserve and utilise our natural capital. There are several Canadian companies that are on the cutting edge of research and development of environmental technologies. Yet, they...

  16. Contributors
    (pp. 253-255)