Sustainable Development Needs Dedicated Consultation Processes to Work, Says New Report

02/25/2010

Governments should share some of their policy-making authority while interested citizens ought to take more responsibility for outcomes if Canada is to successfully grow its economy while preserving the environment, says a new report.

The report, a joint effort of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) and the Public Policy Forum (PPF), recommends new collaborative approaches be adopted to achieve the goal of sustainable development. Current efforts to bring citizens and stakeholder groups together on the issue are too often overcome by vested interests and infighting, says the report, titled Progress Through Process: Achieving Sustainable Development Together.

“In Canada today, sustainable development issues too often fall victim to adversarial and confrontational debate,” says the report.

“To move forward on the defining governance challenges of our time — biodiversity, climate change, clean energy, water management — all levels of government in Canada need to adopt a more collaborative approach to public policy.”

The NRTEE and the PPF brought together 20 experts in the field of governance to develop ideas aimed at breaking down entrenched interests and exploring processes that support integrated policy making. Sustainable development means that economic, social, and environmental goals can and must be pursued together.

The report calls for increased collaboration among stakeholder groups, citizens, and government, and calls on government to back the process while sharing its decision-making responsibilities. In return, stakeholder groups must take on more responsibility for coming up with and implementing decisions.

The report proposes that policy and advisory organizations with the capacity and expertise to convene diverse stakeholders can play a critical role by creating neutral spaces where polarized views can be defused.

The study also argues that new governance methods must:

  • include key interest groups to build legitimacy,
  • allow for ongoing dialogue that creates trust, and
  • allow participants to take responsibility for solving difficulties.

The report can be found on the websites of the NRTEE and the Public Policy Forum.

For more information on this report or for interviews with NRTEE President and CEO David McLaughlin, or PPF President and CEO David Mitchell, please contact:

Brian Laghi
Director of Communications and Public Affairs
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy
613-943-2054
613-882-8134 c

Linda Kristal
Vice-President, Public Affairs
Public Policy Forum
613-238-7858, x-229
613-447-4532 c