“Sustainable Development: Because Quality of Life
Québec, June 13, 2005 – The Premier of Québec, Mr Jean Charest, and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Government House Leader, Mr Thomas J. Mulcair, today presented the next step in the ambitious Sustainable Development Plan for Québec.
“Our election platform promised that in the course of our first mandate, we would endow Québec with a genuine Sustainable Development Plan. Once again we are honouring our commitments. Today, in a historic gesture, a bill on sustainable development was tabled at the National Assembly. In taking this exciting step, which constitutes a commitment at the highest level of the Québec state to make sustainable development a new prosperity path, we are impelled by a concern for the long-term development of Québec. It is with our children in mind, and the Québec we are going to leave to them, that we make our decisions”, declared the Premier, Mr Jean Charest.
“I am particularly proud of our bill on sustainable development, which comes in the wake of a vast public consultation that I conducted over the last three months on the Québec Sustainable Development Plan. Rarely does a society have the opportunity to provide itself with a legislative framework of such importance for carrying out its firm intentions to change its ways of thinking and to achieve its development by uniting the economy, the environment and social progress for the sake of a better quality of life”, added Minister Mulcair.
An Innovative and Formative Project
The Bill on Sustainable Development, which combines in a single document a variety of legal measures that have enabled forward-looking states to embark successfully on the path toward sustainable development, must be considered, in many ways, as being an innovative project that will shape the future of Québec.
This project creates a new framework in which all ministries and agencies of the public administration will become responsible for achieving sustainable development. While setting out a new vision of development, it presents sixteen principles by which governmental action will now be guided; it commits the government to adopt a combination of strategic objectives and indicators of sustainable development; it obliges all ministries and governmental agencies to prepare sustainable development action plans and to submit annual progress reports.
Among the principles that henceforth the public administration will have to consider in its development actions, there are: “health and the quality of life”, “subsidiarity”, “respect for the support capacity of ecosystems” and “internalization of costs”. The bill creates the obligation to adopt a governmental strategy that will become the backbone of its Sustainable Development Plan. This strategy must reflect the realities and living conditions of Québec. It will be based on integrated approaches and on a greater coherence among diverse actors.
As another important measure in the area of reporting, the bill on sustainable development also creates the position of Commissioner of Sustainable Development, who will be under the authority of the Auditor General of Québec and whose principal task will be to evaluate the government’s performance and to table a report before the National Assembly.
What’s more, this project adds to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms the right to live in a healthy environment that is respectful of biodiversity. This is a first. This measure sends out an unequivocal message as to the importance of protecting the environment in any plan of sustainable development. The bill also provides for the creation of a Green Fund that will primarily finance the initiatives of municipalities and environmental groups. Lastly, it sets up the conditions for broad participation by local and regional communities and by institutions and businesses, in contributing through concrete steps to modify their behaviour relative to development.
The bill on sustainable development will be the object of a parliamentary commission in autumn 2005.
“This bill will allow Québec to join the ranks of model states in terms of sustainable development, and to answer the urgent appeal of the United Nations, which in 2002 at the Johannesburg World Summit asked the nations of the world to accelerate their efforts to implement sustainable development. We have reponded to that appeal”, concluded the Premier of Québec, Mr Jean Charest, and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Mr Thomas J. Mulcair.
Information on the Bill on Sustainable Development is available on the website of the Ministère.
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