Lack of federal leadership hinders progress on environmental issues

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Ottawa – The federal government is not keeping its commitments to take the lead in protecting the environment and moving toward sustainable development, says Scott Vaughan, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The comments are based on the the commissioner’s 2010 Report tabled today in the House of Commons.

“Our report points to some common and long-standing weaknesses in the way the government has been managing environmental issues, from a lack of critical data to inadequate information about key environmental threats, to a lack of plans to tackle those threats,” said Mr. Vaughan.

The government’s failure to lead is evident in the absence of a federal strategy for adapting to climate impacts, despite commitments going back 18 years. This has left departments without the central direction they need to coordinate their own adaptation efforts.

The report also notes the government’s failure to identify and collect the information it needs to manage critical environmental issues, from information on water quality to the absence of a national and up-to-date evaluation of the risks of oil spills from ships. Critical gaps in information hinder the government’s ability to know how well its programs are working and to inform Canadians about the state of the environment and important trends. Without adequate environmental information, effective management is impossible.

“Sustained leadership is necessary to successfully address these weaknesses that we have reported time and time again,” said Mr. Vaughan.

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