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Sustainable development a huge failure in Canada: audit

by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 30, 2007
A decade-old plan to introduce sustainable development strategies and green thinking into the Canadian government's daily work has failed miserably, the environment commissioner said Tuesday.

The 1997 plan "to encourage government departments to green their policies and programs" has become a "major disappointment," said environment commissioner Ron Thompson, releasing his annual audit.

"We have found little evidence that the strategies have encouraged departments to integrate protection of the environment with economic and social issues in a substantive or meaningful way," he said.

The sustainability idea emerged in a series of international meetings and reports during the 1970s and 1980s that promoted the idea of environmental protection in the self-interest of the human species.

These eventually led to two statements of principle and a global agenda on sustainable development at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro.

While noting that economic development cannot stop, heads and senior officials from 179 countries at the UN talks agreed it must change course to fit within the planet's ecological limits.

In Canada, federal bureaucrats were expected to consider environmental protection on par with economic and social issues when developing policy proposals or managing activities of the day.

"Unfortunately, the ambition and momentum that existed in the early stages of sustainable development strategies has faded," Thompson said.

The government has said it would review the findings and order fixes by October 2008.

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