Québec on the road to sustainable development
Sustainable development is not a new idea thought up by the Ministère or the Québec government. Since the 1980s, various actions have been taken to raise awareness of the nature, principles, and importance of developing compatible habits.
Québec participated in work that led to the adoption in 1980 of the World Conservation Strategy. Developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in cooperation with other international organizations, the strategy is subtitled “sustainable development through the conservation of living resources.” Through their work, the IUCN and its contributors contributed to defining this new development avenue.
As part of the Brundtland Commission’s work, Québec actively participated in promoting sustainable development by publishing a working document for French-speaking countries entitled: Mandat pour un changement, grandes questions, stratégie et plan de travail (mandate for change, major questions, strategy and work plan). In 1986, during the Commission’s stopover in Canada, the Ministère de l’Environnement submitted a position paper essentially bearing on the principle of prevention, a major theme of the sustainable development debate. In 1988, the Québec government also published Notre avenir à tous, first published as Our Common Future in 1987.
In 1988, with the creation of Québec’s round table on environment and economy (Table ronde québécoise sur l'environnement et l'économie), Québec became the first government in Canada to concretise one of the key recommendations contained in the report of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, published in 1987 by the Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers (now the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment). The Table, whose mandate was to give concrete scope to the notion of sustainable development, proposed an action plan to the government to make this type of development the standard for Québec. The round table was abolished in 1997 after playing a key role by carrying out quite a number of initiatives including the Forum québécois sur le développement durable in 1989.
In summary, the round table’s work laid the groundwork for deeper thinking on the possibilities associated with sustainable development in different fields including agriculture, industry, forestry, tourism, etc.
In 1991, the Ministère de l’Environnement du Québec created the Comité interministériel du développement durable (CIDD). As the key consultative body dedicated to sustainable development in government, the committee is made up of representatives from the majority of the departments and agenices involved in implementing sustainable development in Québec.
In 1992, the Groupe de coordination interministériel was given the mandate to plan Québec’s participation in the Rio de Janeiro World Summit held in the summer of 1992. To make Québec’s position known on the major issues addressed by the Summit, the Ministère des Affaires internationales, with the departments of environment, natural resources, wildlife and parks and Native affairs, published Québec, l’expérience du développement durable.
At this meeting, Québec chose to recognize the principles listed in the Rio Declaration and the Agenda 21 objectives.
In May 1996, more than 750 people from different sectors of Québec’s society participated in the Eco Summit, an event supported by the Ministère de l’Environnement. The Eco Summit was born of the desire of environmental groups to pursue the change initiated at the 1992 Rio World Summit. The purpose of the meeting was to identify what fields of action would be targeted for the decade from 1996 to 2006 with respect to sustainable development in Québec. The Eco Summit culminated in the publication of the action plan entitled Le Québec et le développement durable: les orientations issues d'ÉcoSommet.
Nikan means “going forward” in several Native languages of Québec. In 1997, the Nikan convention on territorial applications of sustainable development was held in Jonquière. Nearly 550 participants from 42 countries took part. The convention served to recognize the determining role Native peoples play in defining and applying the principles of sustainable development and the need to create a partnership between all peoples to ensure the well-being of present and future generations and preservation of the environment.
In March 2000, the Fonds d’action québécois pour le développement durable (FAQDD), a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable development, received $45 million from the Québec government to implement a financial assistance program. The program supports initiatives to integrate sustainable development practices into the daily lives of Quebecers.
Since its first call for proposals in January 2001, the FAQDD has supported and accompanied NGOs, municipalities, groups of municipalities, enterprises, educational institutions, research centres, cooperatives and band councils. For every dollar invested by the FAQDD, a dollar is invested by the community.
Québec took part in the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002. The United Nations Sustainable Development Commission had asked all governments to report on the actions they had undertaken to reach the objectives set in 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro World Summit and on the challenges they faced. On this occasion, Québec presented a summary of the work carried out to meet the commitments. The Comité interministériel sur le développement durable had prepared the report(PDF, 1,4 MB) - Spanish version ( PDF, 1,4 MB).
Like the other governments attending the summit, Québec pledged to step up its efforts to promote sustainable development. Québec has kept its promise.
On November 25, 2004, the Ministère de l'Environnement released the Québec Sustainable Development Plan, Consultation Document.
Over 3500 people attended public hearings held in 21 municipalities across Québec from February 17 to May 17, 2005. In total, the government received and analysed 582 position papers and over 800 people gave their opinion on the Québec Sustainable Development Plan. The purpose was to get the public to participate early on in the project. Following the consultations, changes were made to the draft legislation to improve the approach proposed to the population.
Results indicate that this public consultation was one of the most important initiatives ever of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP).
On April 19, 2006, Québec’s Governor General gave assent to the Sustainable Development Act. Unanimously adopted by the National Assembly, it brought Québec into the ranks of progressive states in terms of sustainable development. The act aims to introduce a new management framework to the public service so that when exercising its powers and responsibilities it may integrate the principles of sustainable development.
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Act, the Ministère was given new responsibilities to ensure its application. They are as follows:
On December 12, 2007, Québec Premier Jean Charest tables the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2008-2013 in the National Assembly. With the adoption of this strategy, the Government of Québec implements a key part of the 2006 Sustainable Development Act.
In December 2009, the government adopts the initial list of sustainable development indicators. This constitutes the last stage in the implementation of Québec’s Sustainable Development Plan, which was tabled in 2004. This follows the Sustainable Development Act, the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2008-2013 and the adoption by all departments and government bodies of a Sustainable Development Action Plan in which each stipulates how it will contribute to reaching government objectives. This series of indicators provides Québec with the means to measure its sustainable development progress and to compare itself to other states. News release (french)
Also in December 2009, the first Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2008-2013 Implementation Report (french) is adopted by the members of the Comité interministériel du développement durable (inter-ministerial sustainable development committee). Since the majority of participating organizations released their sustainable development action plans around March 31, 2009, which was the 2008-2009 report timeframe examination period deadline, the report is first and foremost a table of their commitments.
Nrg4SD is a 5-continent network of federated states and regional governments that are favorable to sustainable development. Québec is the first North American federated state to join and is appointed to the organization’s steering committee. News release(French)
Québec hosts the 2011 nrg4sd general assembly, and this was no accidental choice. Numerous environmental organizations established offices in Québec in recent years, confirming that the province is becoming a world-class sustainable development nerve centre. News release(French)
The Government of Québec consults with local sustainable development actors to assist in the preparation of its participation in the fifth Earth summit in 2012. The results of the consultation exercise can be found in the consultation report.
As well, at the Rio+20 conference, Québec tables a progress report on the twin themes of the gathering: the institutional framework and the development of the green economy. The meeting provides Québec with an opportunity to share its sustainable development expertise.
On February 29, 2012, Government of Québec order-in-council 136-2012 authorizes an extension of the Government Sustainable Development Strategy review to December 31, 2014. Consequently, the strategy is extended until such time as a revised version is adopted.
The Rapport sur l’application de la Loi sur le développement durable (report on the application of the Sustainable Development Act) recaps the initial implementation years of the government’s measure, from the time the Act came into force on April 19, 2006 until April 19, 2013. It is the first in a series of three documents that stem from special obligations and deadlines set out in the Sustainable Development Act.
The report offers analysis and interpretation about the four objectives of the Sustainable Development Act and explains the main actions taken by the government and the Québec public administration to apply it.
2015 – Adoption of the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2015-2020 (GSDS 2015-2020)
2015 – Adoption by the United Nations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
2015 – Adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate
2016 – Second generation of sustainable development action plans for Ministerial and Agency (related to the GSDS 2015-2020)
2016 – Official signing of the Paris Agreement on climate by the member states of the United Nations