Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

7 Nov 2019

Cooperation for sustainability

Posted by Michael Keating

It’s one thing to set goals for sustainability. It’s quite another to figure out how to reach them. The re-elected federal government has set a green economy and especially greenhouse gas cuts as major goals. But, it depends on the whole country cooperating in an unprecedented national project. The government can convene, lead collaboration, provide financial incentives, change regulations and improve its own performance. The bulk of the transformation will take place in private businesses, offices and homes. If tens of millions of people are going to pitch in for a greener and cleaner future they have to be part of the process. There is a good precedent. In 1986, Canada’s environment ministers created the National Task Force on Environment and Economy. It included environment ministers, business, academic and non-government organizations. The task force recommended round tables on environment and economy to seek consensus among different parts of society on how to move to sustainable development. Governments created but mostly abandoned round tables for a number of reasons, including a reluctance to share power and lack of willingness to take the multistakeholder approach seriously. Now, the demands for sustainability are far more urgent, and governments need to reinvent that wheel. They need top-level players from the major sectors, including energy, transportation, food production, resource extraction, labour, academe, non-government groups and all levels of governance, including indigenous peoples. These experts need to agree on goals and provide expertise on how to achieve them. Each sector leader needs to commit to achieving the goals. Many will require cooperation across sectors, so these leaders need to commit to collaboration on a national approach using ideas that are proven, while continuing to innovate to bring on even better technologies and approaches.  

Comments are closed.