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ARCHIVED - RPP 2007-2008
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

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1.1 Message from the NRTEE Chair and the President

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) is dedicated to exploring ways to promote sustainable development that achieves a balance between a vibrant economy and a healthy environment. Drawing on the insight and experience of our members, we examine the environmental and economic implications of priority issues and offer independent advice on how to address them. Our activities are directly relevant to Canada's national interest and to the government's objective of building a globally competitive, sustainable, technologically innovative economy.

Created by the Prime Minister in 1988 as an independent advisory body reporting to the federal government, the NRTEE had its status formalized in a 1993 Act of Parliament. The purpose of the Round Table, according to the Act, is "to play the role of catalyst in identifying, explaining and promoting, in all sectors of Canadian society and in all regions of Canada, principles and practices of sustainable development." The NRTEE reports to the Minister of the Environment, and, as a national body, shares our advice with other levels of government and decision makers in various sectors. Our members-distinguished leaders in business, labour, universities, environmental organizations, Aboriginal communities, and municipalities- come from different regions of Canada. The NRTEE offers its members and others a neutral forum for discussion, and acts as an advocate for positive change, raising awareness about sustainable development and related issues.

Over the years, the NRTEE has nurtured a depth and breadth of expertise, integrating the views of stakeholders across the country in many key sectors. We have established a reputation for working effectively in highly contentious areas and for providing independent, credible, and balanced advice that decision makers in government and industry can trust.

In 2006, we adapted to working in a different policy environment as a result of a change in government and a new reporting relationship with the Minister of the Environment. We anticipate that the period of transition will continue into 2007 when the President and CEO is appointed and with the appointment of a new Minister of the Environment in January 2007.

As noted in this RPP, we have two key overarching priorities in 2007-2008 and beyond. The first priority is to provide the government with advice on environment and economy issues. The focus of this priority in the short term will be to respond to the government's November 2006 request for advice in support of the new Clean Air Regulatory Agenda, of which Canada's Clean Air Act is central. To deliver on this request, we will apply and build on the knowledge and expertise we gained in our earlier energy and climate change work that culminated in the June 2006 Advice on a Long-term Strategy on Energy and Climate Change (the Advisory Note). We will draw on a wide body of national and international opinion and will consult with other government departments to ensure that our advice will be relevant and useful and does not duplicate work already taking place. We recognize that the environment has become a high priority for Canadians and we are committed to assisting the Government of Canada address the challenges on this file as quickly, effectively and responsibly as possible.

In parallel with our work on Canada's Clean Air Act, and in partnership with other organizations, we will develop specific policy proposals to suggest how Canada can implement the strategic priorities identified in our earlier work. As well, the NRTEE will continue to examine how we, as Canadians, can adapt to climate change, particularly as it affects the northern parts of our country.

Our second overarching priority-applying sound management principles and implementing federal initiatives-will be critical to our ability to deliver on our first priority. We take seriously our responsibility to be accountable and to ensure that the stewardship of our financial and human resources is effective and aligned with government-wide initiatives, including Management of Government Information and Management of Human Resources, and conforms to the Management Accountability Framework.

Consistent with our mandate, we will also invest resources in efforts that lay the foundation for activities beyond 2007-2008. We will develop and implement a new strategic management plan that will lay out a strategic objective for the NRTEE over the next three to five years. This will enhance our ability to plan ahead while retaining the flexibility to respond to short-term requests for our advice. With the goal of improving an understanding of the NRTEE's value by stakeholders groups and the media, we will also begin to implement a new long-term strategic communications plan in 2007. This will re-focus our communications efforts on key audiences, new communications objectives, positioning, and tactics.

Over the years, the NRTEE has developed expertise that positions us well to provide a unique and substantial contribution to Canada's performance. We are committed to maintaining a focus on our mandate and to helping the federal government face the sustainable development challenge head-on in 2007 and beyond. We look forward to playing a part in the promotion of economic prosperity and in the preservation of the environment for future generations.

Glen Murray
Alexander Wood
Acting President and
Chief Executive Officer

1.2 Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-2008 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the TBS guidance;
  • It is based on the department's Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat in the RPP.
Alexander Wood
Acting President and
Chief Executive Officer

1.3 Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

The NRTEE is presenting its plans and priorities for 2007-2008 using the Treasury Board-approved Program Activity Architecture (PAA) shown in Figure 1.

Program Activity Architecture

1.4 Summary Information

Reason for Existence

As stated in the Act that established the NRTEE in 1993, the purpose of the Round Table is to play the role of catalyst in identifying, explaining and promoting, in all sectors of Canadian society and in all regions of Canada, principles and practices of sustainable development. Through its work, the NRTEE identifies and promotes ways to encourage economic prosperity for all Canadians. At the same time, it strives to preserve the environment for current and future generations.

Financial Resources ($ thousands)1

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
$5,156.0 $5,156.0 $5,156.0

Human Resources2

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
27 27 27

Departmental Priorities

Priority #1: Provide advice on environment and economy issues
Priority #2: Apply sound management principles in operations, and implement federal initiatives
Previously committed to/ Ongoing

Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

Planned Spending
($ thousands)
  Expected Results 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 Contributes to the following priority
Strategic Outcome: Federal policy development on environment and economy issues and decisions in other key sectors are influenced by NRTEE advice on selected issues.
Program Activity: Provide advice on environment and economy issues Increase in awareness and understanding by decision makers about problems, opportunities and practical solutions relating to the environment and the economy $5,156.0     Priority #1 and Priority #2

1.5 Departmental Plans and Priorities

The NRTEE has a single strategic outcome, namely, federal policy development on environment and economy issues and decisions in other key sectors are influenced by NRTEE advice on selected issues. All of the agency's plans, priorities, and activities are directed toward its achievement.

Operating Environment

The NRTEE reports to the Minister of Environment and is supported by a Secretariat in Ottawa. Round Table members, who include up to 25 distinguished Canadians, represent a broad range of sectors, including business, labour, academia, environmental organizations and Aboriginal peoples, and many regions across the country. They meet four times each year in plenary sessions where they discuss priorities and review the work of the Secretariat. The Secretariat, headed by a President and CEO, provides program management, analysis, communications, and administrative services to the NRTEE members. General information about the NRTEE and its membership is available on the agency's website ( (See Section III for an Organization Chart, and Section IV for a List of Members.)

Issues examined by the NRTEE have historically been identified through an internal screening and scoping process, in which the final decisions reflect current political, environmental or economic priorities, and members' combined interests. More recently, the NRTEE's activities have been determined by the need to respond to specific requests from the federal government, often within short timeframes. The NRTEE has adapted its approach to respond effectively to these requests, and now relies more heavily than before on subject experts and NRTEE members for their expertise and advice, with less emphasis on external stakeholder consultations.

NRTEE staff possess a range of expertise and the flexibility to respond to current demands for advice. As the NRTEE seeks to increase capacity in key areas, it will consider an "accordion approach" that will enable it to expand policy capacity in times of higher demand. For example, some of the Round Table's past external consultants could be invited to join the Secretariat as advisors, specifically in the areas of analysis and modelling. The NRTEE is exploring opportunities to second personnel from key departments on an as-required basis to enhance its in-house capacity on specific issues.


As outlined earlier, the NRTEE has two overarching priorities. These are described below.

Priority 1: To provide advice to decision makers on environment and economy issues of national relevance

Although it has a relatively small budget of approximately $5 million, the agency nevertheless delivers an increasing amount of advice on issues of national importance-advice that decision makers in and beyond the federal government have said provides a valuable contribution to Canadians' knowledge about sustainable development.

Providing advice, the NRTEE's first priority, involves producing the advice, then promoting it.

Producing the advice entails conducting original research and convening experts to ensure balance and credibility. The research analyzes the environmental and economic facts and trends underlying each issue. The resulting policy recommendations are reviewed and approved by NRTEE members who represent various stakeholder groups. The culmination of this effort is a report that presents the findings, analysis, and recommendations from the research and consultation process. Until relatively recently, the NRTEE has taken two to three years to produce recommendations on particular issues, resulting in a State of the Debate report. The Round Table has streamlined its research and consultation efforts, with a view to providing advice that is timely, actionable, and relevant to the government's priorities. Taken in combination with other approaches, this gives the NRTEE flexibility to address a range of issues, based on the demands of the key audiences it is targeting with the advice.

On completion of a program or an activity, the agency begins its second task, promoting its findings through a variety of communications channels, to reach targeted decision makers and opinion leaders across the country. This second step is crucial in raising awareness and understanding, and in influencing policy development and decision making.

Together, producing and promoting advice contribute directly to the agency's strategic outcome, namely to influence policy and decisions related to environment and economy issues.

A) Producing Advice: Plans for 2007 to 2008

The NRTEE will focus on climate change and clean air issues in 2007-2008. It will apply and build on the expertise and knowledge base it has developed on these issues over the course of the past two years. Specifically, the NRTEE will focus on two different but related aspects of these issues, namely, the development and delivery of advice requested by the Minister with respect to Canada's Clean Air Act and adaptation to climate change. In addition, it will direct resources to maintaining an ongoing R&D capacity.

A summary of proposed plans is provided below. For further details, see Section II.

(i) Respond to the reference provided to the NRTEE in Canada's Clean Air Act. The Government of Canada's proposed Bill C-30, Canada's Clean Air Act, along with the Notice of Intent to Develop and Implement Regulations and Other Measures to Reduce Air Emissions (NOI) specify that the NRTEE will provide advice to the Minister on the following:

  • National long-term objectives for ambient air for particulate matter and ozone;
  • National long-term emission reduction targets for criteria air contaminants and greenhouse gases, including medium-term emission reduction targets; and
  • Scenarios for how these targets could be achieved.

    This work will build upon the research and knowledge base gained through the NRTEE's earlier examinations of energy and climate change, integrating its existing knowledge with research that will be conducted during 2007. The Round Table plans to report to the Minister on this work in the fall 2007.

(ii) Develop a long-term Policy Framework on Energy and Climate Change. The NRTEE will develop policy advice to help implement the recommendations made in the June 2006 Advisory Note on a long-term energy and climate change strategy for Canada. It will supplement the Canadian "wedge analysis" with an understanding of the wedges' costs and benefits, and an analysis of policies that might encourage their implementation. The NRTEE initiated this work in 2006 and will continue to further develop the findings in 2007, integrating this research with that related to work on Canada's Clean Air Act.

(iii) Contribute to the development of a National Climate Change Adaption Policy. The NRTEE will continue to examine ways for the agency to contribute to the development of a national climate change adaptation policy for Canada, paying particular attention to how this affects the North.

(iv) Maintain an ongoing R&D capacity. The NRTEE will develop a strategic intelligence and foresight function that will enable it to identify and analyse emerging environment and economy issues.

B) Promoting Advice: Plans for 2007-2008

Our objectives in 2007-2008 will be threefold:

  • To disseminate the recommendations and advice developed as part of the NRTEE's ongoing research and analysis, including targeted briefings with key constituencies in both the private non-governmental sector, and the public sector;
  • To pursue partnerships with a range of organizations in order to enhance the NRTEE's work on energy and climate change, and facilitate collaboration and action among decision makers and stakeholders.
  • To implement the NRTEE's new Strategic Communications Framework, which will be completed in March 2007; and
  • To maintain corporate communications activities.

See Section II for further details.

Performance Indicators for this priority

As laid out in our Program Activity Architecture (PAA), the agency will have succeeded when decision makers report that the NRTEE has given them a new way of viewing issues and has raised their awareness and understanding of the issues. The NRTEE will be using improved approaches to measuring our performance in 2007-2008 and beyond. Key indicators being considered include the following:

  • The extent to which NRTEE advice is considered in policy decisions,
  • The level of awareness and understanding by federal decision-makers, and
  • The level of awareness and understanding by national stakeholders.

Priority 2: To apply sound management principles in operations and implement new federal initiatives

Even with limited staff and a small budget, the agency takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that the stewardship of its financial and human resources is effective and aligned with government-wide initiatives. To this end, the NRTEE has identified several areas of focus for this planning period and beyond. These are discussed below.

Plans for 2007 to 2010

Internal NRTEE Initiatives

(i) NRTEE Secretariat Management Committee. This Committee comprises the President and CEO and senior management from each section of the agency. It supports an integrated approach to planning and oversees the management of the NRTEE's financial, informational, and human resources. The Committee meets bi-weekly. In 2007 and beyond, the Committee will continue to play a central role in ensuring sound management throughout the agency.

(ii) Strategic Management Plan. In response to an ongoing need to better plan and explain the NRTEE's work, the NRTEE Secretariat will develop a strategic management plan that will lay out its objectives for the next three to five years. It will define activities and initiatives in support of these objectives, as well as the resource and management implications that flow from it. The goal of the Plan will be to increase the agency's overall effectiveness and management efficiency.

Government-wide Initiatives

(i) Finalize compliance with Management of Government Information. In response to this Treasury Board policy, the NRTEE launched a major initiative in March 2003 to develop policies and procedures for a comprehensive records management program for both paper and electronic files. Since then, the agency has greatly improved its performance on this element of its operations. The NRTEE also determined the need for an electronic information management system and the implementation of a Records, Document and Information Management System (RDIMS) was initiated in 2006. RDIMS' operation will be finalized in 2007 and the agency will ensure all staff members are able to use the new system.

(ii) Finalize compliance with Management of Information Technology Security (MITS) policy. By the start of 2007, the NRTEE will be approximately 85% compliant with the MITS policy, and plans to continue work on this important initiative throughout the remainder of the year to meet its next milestones.

(iii) Complete Phase I of NRTEE Content Management Solution (CMS). The NRTEE has undertaken a project to design and implement a CMS that builds on the Government of Canada's CMS approach and common standards for integrated government information and service delivery. Phase I of this project, which involves migration of existing website content into the CMS, will be completed in early 2007. Phase II, to be carried out 2007-2008 will focus on content delivery and stakeholder engagement strategies.

(iv) Address recommendations identified by the Management Accountability Framework. In 2007-2008, the NRTEE Management Committee will address recommendations for improvement identified by the Management Accountability Framework (MAF) process of 2006-2007. It will continue to oversee the ongoing self-assessment of management performance using the MAF indicators.

(v) Demonstrate competency to exercise Delegated Authorities. The NRTEE will seek to ensure all managers and executives demonstrate their competency to exercise delegated authorities, through the Canada School for the Public Service's online assessment process. Although access to the assessment process has been restricted to organizations under the Financial Administration Act's Schedule I and IV, the agency is optimistic that access will be granted in 2007.

(vi) Improve Human Resource Management. Priorities for 2007-2008 include the following:

  • Implementation of annual Learning Plans for all NRTEE employees, and
  • Implementation of an annual staff survey similar to the survey used by the core public service.

(vii) Prepare for Shared Services and Systems. The NRTEE will also continue to prepare for Shared Services and Systems by monitoring the direction provided by the Treasury Board.

(viii) Review the Federal Accountablity Act. The NRTEE will review the new Federal Accountability Act to identify potential implications for members and the agency. The required systems and controls to manage these impacts will be implemented. NRTEE management will work with the Small Agencies Administrators Network (SAAN) to maximize the efficiency of its response.

Performance indicators for this priority

  • Programs are delivered efficiently and effectively.
  • Personnel are of a high quality and have learning plans in place.
  • Management practices conform to MAF.

The NRTEE recognizes that some of the projects identified above are multi-year initiatives that may not be fully implemented or in full compliance for several years.

Performance Measurement and Evaluation

Starting in 2007 the agency will implement a new approach to performance measurement and evaluation. It anticipates this will provide a more reliable assessment of its performance, in accordance with Treasury Board requirements. The new approach is designed to address the following challenges:

  • The long-term impact of NRTEE work on policy and decisions may only be apparent after five to ten years.
  • It is difficult to attribute the impact of the NRTEE's work on policy decisions made within a complex environment with a multitude of stakeholders.
  • It is important to distinguish between reporting on the performance of the NRTEE with respect to each issue being examined versus reporting on the performance of the NRTEE organization as a whole.

Factors Influencing the NRTEE's Performance

As always, the NRTEE's success depends on its ability to influence the government's approach to important sustainable development issues. To accomplish this, the NRTEE must produce and promote relevant, neutral, and credible advice in a timely manner. Its ability to do so is affected by both external and internal factors. These are discussed below.

  • The key indicator of the NRTEE's performance is its ability to influence government policy development. In Canada, particularly for the issues typically examined by the NRTEE, federal policy is not developed in isolation-it is affected by the government's relationships with the provinces and municipalities and by a host of other factors over which the NRTEE has no control. This creates a complex decision-making environment that can potentially compromise the federal government's ability to act on the NRTEE's recommendations.
  • The emergence of the environment, and climate change in particular, as a key priority for Canadians puts the Round Table firmly in the spotlight due to the focus of its current work. This creates both an opportunity and a risk. The NRTEE is well positioned to provide strategic assistance on this issue to the government. However, failure to produce the required advice in a timely manner is a reputational risk factor that the NRTEE will need to address by applying an approach that is focused and well managed by the members and the Secretariat.
  • The need to respond to direct references from the government has resulted in a shift from the NRTEE's more deliberate approach to business planning and issue identification. This has created challenges for the organization in terms of its ability to plan its activities over a period of more than one year, and even within a single fiscal year. Its plans for 2007-2008 include implementing a more robust business planning approach that can handle this challenging situation in a way that will also permit it to explore a more diversified portfolio of issues instead of focusing exclusively on climate change.
  • Stakeholders do not clearly understand the NRTEE's mandate and responsibilities. Implementing the new Strategic Communications Framework will be the first step in establishing and communicating clear, reasonable, and honest expectations about what the NRTEE can potentially accomplish.
  • Finally, as noted previously, the NRTEE will continue to operate in a period of transition in 2007-2008 as a result of the appointment of a new Minister of the Environment and the appointment of a permanent President and CEO. The agency is confident that it will continue to manage this transition.

Link to the Government of Canada Outcome Areas

Canada's Performance, an annual report to Parliament, sets out the context for assessing the performance of federal government programs. The NRTEE's work in 2007-2008 and beyond will be relevant to several desired outcomes, but aligns most directly with the Government of Canada's strong economic growth outcome as shown below.

Strategic Outcome Program Activity Link to Government of Canada Outcome area
Federal policy development on environment and economy issues, and decisions in other key sectors, are influenced by NRTEE advice on selected issues Provide advice on environment and economy issues Strong economic growth

Sustainability presents a unique challenge to policy makers. It is the ultimate horizontal issue, bringing together economic and environmental objectives. For more than 15 years, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has advised the Government of Canada on how its policies can best promote an approach to sustainability that results in positive economic and environmental outcomes.