2014-15 Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

Supplementary to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's 2014–15 Report on Plans and Priorities


1. Overview of the Federal Government's Approach to Sustainable Development

The 2013–2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS), tabled on November 4, 2013, guides the Government of Canada's 2013–2016 sustainable development activities. The FSDS articulates Canada's federal sustainable development priorities for a period of three years, as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act (FSDA). The purpose of the FSDA is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a federal sustainable development strategy that will make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) supports the implementation of the FSDS through the activities found in this departmental strategy.

2. Sustainable Development Management Systems

Departmental Sustainable Development Vision

AAFC is committed to an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector. The Department's commitment to sustainable development flows from its mandate of helping the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products industries compete in domestic and international markets, deriving economic returns to the sector and the Canadian economy as a whole. Sustainable management of natural resources is a core requirement for an economically successful agricultural sector.

Managing Sustainable Development

AAFC activities extend across the value chain for food from farmers to processors, domestic and global markets, and consumers. The Department invests in innovative research and development into new crop varieties, beneficial management practices and technologies that support sustainable agricultural production. Emerging economic opportunities, such as clean energy and consumer and market demand for environmental product attributes are also supported. Departmental efforts help address agri-environmental challenges such as water quality and water use, developing resilience to a changing climate, and maintaining ecosystem health.

Since jurisdiction over agriculture and natural resources in Canada is shared with provincial and territorial governments, programs and policies are based on partnerships between both levels of government. By considering the wide variety of environmental and socio-economic conditions across Canada, farm-level programs are uniquely tailored and delivered by provincial or territorial agencies.

3. Strategic Environmental Assessment

AAFC ensures that its decision-making process includes a consideration of the FSDS goals and targets through the strategic environmental assessment (SEA). An SEA for policy, plan or program proposals includes an analysis of the impacts of the proposal on the environment, including on the FSDS goals and targets. The results of SEAs are made public when an initiative is announced or approved, demonstrating that environmental factors were integrated into the decision-making process.

AAFC applies SEA to proposals contained in Memoranda to Cabinet and Treasury Board Submissions. At present, the process generally comprises three steps as follows:

  1. Initial Review – a review to determine whether there is any potential for environmental effects associated with the proposal or whether a previously conducted assessment still applies;
  2. Preliminary Scan – an assessment to determine whether important environmental effects, either positive or negative, would result from the implementation of the proposal; and
  3. Detailed SEA – a more detailed assessment on environmental effects. It also includes strategies to mitigate the negative or enhance the positive effects, or the proposal of measures to address any possible public concerns.

AAFC commits to continuing to:

  • Update its SEA guidance material (e.g., templates, guidelines, etc.) to maintain relevance and compliance with the Cabinet Directive;
  • Maintain a SEA database to track the number of policies, plans and program proposals assessed and/or SEAs completed;
  • Ensure that the goals and targets of the FSDS are considered in the application of SEA; and
  • Issue a public statement of environmental effects whenever a detailed SEA is conducted, and include the impact on the FSDS goals and targets, if applicable.

4. Department-led Targets

FSDS Goal FSDS Target Performance Indicator
Goal 3: Water Quality and Water Quantity – Protect and enhance water so that it is clean, safe and secure for all Canadians and supports healthy ecosystems Target 3.10: Agri-Environmental Performance Metrics
Achieve a value between 81–100 on each of the Water Quality and Soil Quality Agri-Environmental Performance Metrics by March 31, 2030
Water quality and soil quality agri-environmental performance metrics
Goal 5: Biological Resources – Efficient economic and ecological use of resources – Production and consumption of biological resources are sustainable Target 5.4: Sustainable Agriculture
By 2020, agricultural working landscapes provide a stable or improved level of biodiversity and habitat capacity
Wildlife habitat capacity on farmland
Environmental farm planning on agricultural land

5. Departmental Implementation Strategies

The following information provides details of AAFC's implementation strategies that support the FSDS.

Link to AAFC's Program Alignment Architecture

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.2: Research Accelerating Innovation

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
1.1.12: Conduct targeted research to increase knowledge of climate change relative to agriculture and assess and report on the collective environmental and economic impact of the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by farmers on the Canadian landscape

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
This Growing Forward 2 (agricultural policy framework) program is designed to address emerging science-based requirements of the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector by generating and providing access to scientific knowledge that helps the industry to: identify and mitigate risks to agriculture and agri-food production; enhance the safety of the food system; sustainably increase its productivity to improve its bottom line through more efficient use of inputs; enhance the resilience of the sector to a changing climate; and to capture market opportunities. Objectives of this program include: conduct innovative research to understand key challenges and opportunities facing the sector; transform scientific knowledge into agricultural products, processes and practices that improve competitiveness; promote research to understand the key environmental sustainability challenges facing Canadian farmers; encourage the transformation of scientific knowledge into agricultural practices that improve the environmental sustainability and profitability of farming operations; support scientific measurement and analysis of the environmental sustainability performance of the sector that will facilitate competitiveness; and work with industry to target AAFC efforts towards key business risks and opportunities.

Expected Results Performance Indicators Performance Targets
Agri-environmental indicators are available to assess and report on the sector's environmental and economic sustainability Regular reporting on the environmental sustainability of Canadian agriculture* Full reporting
Increase knowledge by the scientific community in the area of climate change Number of scientific articles accepted for publication through an external peer-reviewed process 75 articles related to climate change by March 31, 2018 (2013–2018)
*Full reporting is expected to be completed by December 2014. For information on the full indicator reporting that was prepared in 2010, please visit Government of Canada Publications.

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.1: Science Supporting an Innovative and Sustainable Sector

Implementation Strategy: Enabling Capacity
1.1.52: Support Canada's participation in multilateral fora outside of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and ensure that Canada's international climate change objectives are advanced in international meetings including addressing short-lived climate pollutants (e.g. Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Global Methane Initiative and Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Major Economies Forum and Arctic Council)

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
AAFC conducts longer term core research and development work to advance the understanding of: the resource base upon which agriculture depends, threats to Canadian agriculture production, mechanisms to protect and conserve Canadian bioresources and genetic diversity, and future new opportunities for the sector. This program also maintains a strong network of world-class research centres and offices across the country with scientific expertise to meet the research needs of existing and emerging agricultural commodity groups, and to participate in collaborative partnerships with industry, academia, non-governmental organizations and others that undertake research aimed at yield enhancement, input reductions, prevention of diseases or pests, market access and risk mitigation, and development of new areas of opportunity for the sector.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
As required, provide expertise and other support for Canada's participation in multilateral fora outside of the UNFCCC (e.g. Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture*) TBD TBD
*The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is the only global forum for governments to discuss and negotiate matters relevant to agricultural biodiversity. It has 175 country members and is operated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Canada joined in 1989.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture objectives include conserving plant genetic resources essential for food security, and providing access to them and using them in a sustainable manner. Canada ratified the Treaty in 2002 and is a member of its governing body.

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption, and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.1: Science Supporting an Innovative and Sustainable Sector

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
2.1.18: Conduct basic and applied research to increase knowledge of the effects of agricultural production on air

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
AAFC conducts longer term core research and development work to advance the understanding of: the resource base upon which agriculture depends, threats to Canadian agriculture production, mechanisms to protect and conserve Canadian bioresources and genetic diversity, and future new opportunities for the sector. This program also maintains a strong network of world-class research centres and offices across the country with scientific expertise to meet the research needs of existing and emerging agricultural commodity groups, and to participate in collaborative partnerships with industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, and others that undertake research aimed at yield enhancement, input reductions, prevention of diseases or pests, market access and risk mitigation, and development of new areas of opportunity for the sector.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
Increased understanding by the scientific community of the interactions and impact of agricultural practices on the air resources Number of scientific articles accepted for publication through an external peer-reviewed process 50 papers by March 31, 2018 (2013–2018)

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.6: FPT (federal, provincial and territorial) Cost-shared Environment

Implementation Strategy: Enabling Capacity
3.10.1: Provide cost-shared funding to provinces and territories that provide a systematic approach to farmers to assess priority environmental risks, plan effective mitigation and increase adoption of sustainable agricultural practices at farm and landscape levels. The program components will be determined in 2013*.

*Provinces and territories have identified their program component. Provincial and territorial cost-shared activities include funding to support environmental farm plans to identify environmental risks and risk mitigation activities; and the implementation of proven environmental beneficial management practices (BMPs) such as farmyard runoff controls and erosion control structures.

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
This Growing Forward 2 program provides support for provincial and territorial activities aimed at supporting the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-based sector and its businesses to assess and respond to priority environmental risks and manage the natural resource base sustainably. The programming is mainly designed to minimize and mitigate impacts and risks to the environment by maintaining or improving the quality of soil, water, air, and biodiversity; ensuring the long term health and sustainability of natural resources used for agricultural production and, supporting the long-term economic and environmental viability of the agriculture industry.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
The sector/industry is taking actions to minimize environmental risks and using inputs efficiently Cumulative number of BMPs implemented under Growing Forward 2 FPT Cost-shared programming 14,600 by March 31, 2019
(2013-2018)

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption, and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.1: Science Supporting an Innovative and Sustainable Sector
Sub-Program 2.1.2: Research Accelerating Innovation

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
3.10.2: Conduct targeted research to increase knowledge of water resources relative to agriculture and enhance knowledge of nutrient management to increase efficiency and lower the potential of contamination of water resources

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
Under sub-program 2.1.1, AAFC conducts longer term core research and development work to advance the understanding of: the resource base upon which agriculture depends, threats to Canadian agriculture production, mechanisms to protect and conserve Canadian bioresources and genetic diversity, and future new opportunities for the sector. This program also maintains a strong network of world-class research centres and offices across the country with scientific expertise to meet the research needs of existing and emerging agricultural commodity groups, and to participate in collaborative partnerships with industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, and others that undertake research aimed at yield enhancement, input reductions, prevention of diseases or pests, market access and risk mitigation, and development of new areas of opportunity for the sector.

Under sub-program 2.1.2, this Growing Forward 2 program is designed to address emerging science-based requirements of the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector by generating and providing access to scientific knowledge that helps the industry to: identify and mitigate risks to agriculture and agri-food production; enhance the safety of the food system; sustainably increase its productivity to improve its bottom line through more efficient use of inputs; enhance the resilience of the sector to a changing climate; and to capture market opportunities. Objectives of this program include: conduct innovative research to understand key challenges and opportunities facing the sector; transform scientific knowledge into agricultural products, processes and practices that improve competitiveness; promote research to understand the key environmental sustainability challenges facing Canadian farmers; encourage the transformation of scientific knowledge into agricultural practices that improve the environmental sustainability and profitability of farming operations; support scientific measurement and analysis of the environmental sustainability performance of the sector that will facilitate competitiveness; and work with industry to target AAFC efforts towards key business risks and opportunities.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
Increased understanding by the scientific community of water resources and nutrient management and the potential to increase efficiency and lower the potential of contamination of water resources Number of scientific articles accepted for publication through an external peer-reviewed process 75 articles by March 31, 2018
(2013–2018)

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption, and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.2: Research Accelerating Innovation

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
3.10.3: Assess and report on the collective environmental and economic impact of the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices by farmers on the Canadian landscape.

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
This Growing Forward 2 program is designed to address emerging science-based requirements of the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector by generating and providing access to scientific knowledge that helps the industry to: identify and mitigate risks to agriculture and agri-food production; enhance the safety of the food system; sustainably increase its productivity to improve its bottom line through more efficient use of inputs; enhance the resilience of the sector to a changing climate; and to capture market opportunities. Objectives of this program include: conduct innovative research to understand key challenges and opportunities facing the sector; transform scientific knowledge into agricultural products, processes and practices that improve competitiveness; promote research to understand the key environmental sustainability challenges facing Canadian farmers; encourage the transformation of scientific knowledge into agricultural practices that improve the environmental sustainability and profitability of farming operations; support scientific measurement and analysis of the environmental sustainability performance of the sector that will facilitate competitiveness; and work with industry to target AAFC efforts towards key business risks and opportunities.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
Agri-environmental indicators are available to assess and report on the sector's environmental and economic sustainability Regular reporting on the environmental sustainability of Canadian agriculture* Full reporting
*Full reporting is expected to be completed by December 2014. For information on the full indicator reporting that was prepared in 2010, please visit Government of Canada Publications.

Strategic Outcome 1: A competitive and market-oriented agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector that proactively manages risk
Program 1.2: Market Access, Negotiations, Sector Competitiveness, and Assurance Systems
Sub-Program 1.2.1: Trade and Market Expansion

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
4.7.4: In accordance with mandated responsibilities, provide environmental and/or other information to reduce the risk of, and advice in response to, the occurrence of events such as polluting incidents, wildlife disease events or severe weather and other significant hydro-meteorological events as applicable

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
In accordance with the Emergency Management Act, AAFC is responsible for developing plans to respond to emergencies in the agriculture and agri-food sector that exceed a provincial or territorial lead agency's capacity to manage. The Department will also support a response effort, as requested, from local, provincial, territorial, federal and/or international stakeholders.

The Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP), which contains Emergency Support Functions, states that the Department may also need to undertake a number of activities, including assisting provincial and territorial governments in securing safe food and water, and agricultural commodities such as animal feed, through liaison with other government and non-government organizations.

Expected Result Performance Indicators Performance Targets
A FERP where the Agri-Food Emergency Support Function is accurately and adequately reflected

As required, respond to emergencies in the agriculture and agri-food sector
Updates as required to the FERP and completion of annual plans Annually or more frequently, as required
AAFC's Emergency Management Coordination Model is reviewed December 2014

Program 3.1: Internal Services
Sub-Program 3.1.3: Asset Management Services
Sub-Sub-Program 3.1.3.1: Real Property Services

Implementation Strategy: Leading by Example
4.81.1: Implement the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) and complete remediation and risk management activities at known high priority federal contaminated sites.

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
FCSAP is a 15-year Government of Canada horizontal program with the aim of reducing environmental and human health risks from known federal contaminated sites and associated federal financial liabilities. This implementation strategy is primarily directed to Environment Canada's responsibilities in supporting FCSAP. Environment Canada's Contaminated Sites Program responsibilities include hosting the FCSAP Secretariat, developing guidance and program policies, and providing expert support to federal custodians for the assessment and remediation/risk management activities at their sites. Sixteen federal departments, agencies and consolidated Crown corporations responsible for contaminated sites, including AAFC, are currently involved in the FCSAP program as custodians of sites.

Expected Results Performance Indicators Performance Targets
Reduced liability at higher-risk federal contaminated sites Reduction in liability at all Class 1 and Class 2 FCSAP funded sites during Phase II of FCSAP $1.17 billion by 2015–16
Reduced risk to the environment and human health from federal contaminated sites Number of Class 1 and Class 2 FCSAP funded sites where risk reduction activities have been completed 368 by March 2016

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption, and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.2: Research Accelerating Innovation

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
5.4.1: Assess broad-scale trends in the capacity of the Canadian agricultural landscape to provide suitable habitat for populations of terrestrial vertebrates

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
This Growing Forward 2 program is designed to address emerging science-based requirements of the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector by generating and providing access to scientific knowledge that helps the industry to: identify and mitigate risks to agriculture and agri-food production; enhance the safety of the food system; sustainably increase its productivity to improve its bottom line through more efficient use of inputs; enhance the resilience of the sector to a changing climate; and to capture market opportunities. Objectives of this program include: conduct innovative research to understand key challenges and opportunities facing the sector; transform scientific knowledge into agricultural products, processes and practices that improve competitiveness; promote research to understand the key environmental sustainability challenges facing Canadian farmers; encourage the transformation of scientific knowledge into agricultural practices that improve the environmental sustainability and profitability of farming operations; support scientific measurement and analysis of the environmental sustainability performance of the sector that will facilitate competitiveness; and work with industry to target AAFC efforts towards key business risks and opportunities.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
*Full reporting is expected to be completed by December 2014. For information on the full indicator reporting that was prepared in 2010, please visit Government of Canada Publications.
Agri-environmental indicators are available to assess and report on the sector's environmental and economic sustainability Regular reporting on the environmental sustainability of Canadian agriculture* Full Reporting

Strategic Outcome 2: An innovative and sustainable agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector
Program 2.1: Science, Innovation, Adoption, and Sustainability
Sub-Program 2.1.6: FPT Cost-shared Environment

Implementation Strategy: Advancing Knowledge and Communication
5.4.2: Increase the awareness and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices that maintain or improve the quality of soil, water, air and biodiversity at farm and landscape levels by increasing the number of farms with an Environmental Farm Plan through Growing Forward 2 programs delivered by provinces and territories

Description of the Implementation Strategy:
This Growing Forward 2 program provides support for provincial and territorial activities aimed at supporting the Canadian agriculture, agri-food and agri-based sector and its businesses to assess and respond to priority environmental risks and manage the natural resource base sustainably. The programming is mainly designed to minimize and mitigate impacts and risks to the environment by maintaining or improving the quality of soil, water, air, and biodiversity; ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of natural resources used for agricultural production and, supporting the long-term economic and environmental viability of the agriculture industry.

Expected Result Performance Indicator Performance Target
The sector/industry is taking actions to minimize environmental risks and using inputs efficiently Cumulative number of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) implemented under Growing Forward 2 FPT Cost-shared programming 14,600 by March 31, 2019
(2013–2018)

6. Greening Government Operations Supplementary Table

AAFC is a large federal custodian of buildings, land, fleet and equipment, which the Department operates to deliver its programs and services, conduct research across Canada, and achieve results for Canadians. As such, AAFC also contributes to Theme IV: Shrinking the Environmental Footprint – Beginning with Government of the FSDS, otherwise known as Greening Government Operations (GGO).

The Department has made good progress towards the commitments for the first three-year cycle of this initiative (2011–2014), with the final report to be tabled in the 2013-14 Departmental Performance Report GGO Supplementary Table.

The goal of Theme IV from the first cycle of the FSDS "Minimizing the environmental footprint of government operations" has been separated into three goals for the second cycle (2014–2017): Greenhouse Gas Emission (GHG) and Energy, Asset and Waste Management, and Water Management. AAFC continues to be well-positioned to contribute to five government-wide targets that have been established under Theme IV.

Please refer to the 2014–15 Report on Plans and Priorities GGO Supplementary Table for details of AAFC's planned activities towards the second cycle of GGO targets.

Date modified: