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"Sustainable development" is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and it is a key commitment of all federal departments. In 1995, the Auditor General Act was amended to require each department to prepare and update a sustainable development strategy (SDS). These strategies are tabled in the House of Commons, and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development monitors the progress towards their implementation.
An SDS is intended to outline a department's goals and action plans for integrating sustainable development into its policies, programs, and operations over three-year planning periods.
The Department of Finance Canada's SDS for the period of 2007-09 is the Department's third update of its original SDS tabled in Parliament in December 1997. The 2007-09 SDS builds on the foundation of previous strategies, including key achievements in debt reduction, evaluating environmental tax proposals, strategic environmental assessment, and green stewardship. The Department's 1998-2000, 2001-03, 2004-06, and 2007-09 strategies can be found on the Department's website.
Economic and fiscal policy frameworks and decisions that promote equity and enhance the economic, social, and environmental well-being of current and future generations form the basis of the Department's plan for sustainable development. It highlights the long-term ideal that the Department will strive to achieve. For the 2007-09 SDS, the Department set out five long-term goals that focus on key areas where it can contribute, within its mandate, to sustainable development: (1) fiscal sustainability and a high standard of living for future generations; (2) strong social foundations; (3) integrating sustainable development considerations into policy making; (4) integrating sustainable development considerations into the economy; and (5) demonstrating the Department's commitment to sustainable development in operations.
In accordance with each of these five goals, the Department's action plan for sustainable development sets out a number of objectives and targeted actions over the planning period. In undertaking these actions over the three-year period, the Department recognizes that fully achieving sustainable development will take time and continued effort. This requires a long-term strategic approach, while continuing to commit to short-term actions that make progress toward the departmental vision for sustainable development.
A detailed outline of the Department's objectives, actions, and planned results in its SDS in 2009-10 is available on the Department's website.