“Sustainable Development: Because Quality of Life Counts!”
QUEBEC PASSES THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ACT: A FORMATIVE, HISTORIC AND INNOVATIVE GESTURE
Québec, April 13, 2006 – The Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks and Deputy Leader of the Government, Mr Claude Béchard, today announced a historic stage in the Québec Sustainable Development Plan.
“In accordance with our commitments, our government has just taken the historic step of endowing Québec with the Act on Sustainable Development, thereby making us one of the most progressive states in North America in this domain. By so doing, the Government of Québec, through all of its ministries and all of its agencies, has inaugurated a new era in which development must take into account the protection of our environmental patrimony, economic effectiveness and the well-being of our citizens. With this Act, which constitutes a commitment at the highest level of the Québec state to make sustainable development a new road to prosperity and a better quality of life, we are building a brighter future for our children and for the Québec we hope to leave them”, stated Mr Béchard.
The Act on Sustainable Development is the centrepiece of the Sustainable Development Plan, which the Government presented to the people of Québec on November 25, 2004, and which was the subject of a vast public consultation conducted in 21 cities from February 17 to May 17, 2005, and of a second consultation in parliamentary committee from October to December, 2005.
“The Sustainable Development Act introduces new rules of governance for the entire public administration, ensuring that the environment, society and the economy are taken into account in all decisions, and that all of its actions in this regard are coherent, consistent and harmonized. With this legislation, the Government will be able to provide leadership, set an example, perform its role as trustee of our resources more efficiently and completely, and ensure the success of the Québec Sustainable Development Plan”, said Minister Béchard.
A framework for responsibility at the highest levels of government
The Sustainable Development Act 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 within the next year a governmental strategy for sustainable development that will become the backbone of the Québec Sustainable Development Plan. This strategy will focus on integrated approaches and a greater coherence among the various players. Additionally, the Act provides for the adoption of sustainable development indicators for measuring Québec’s progress in this area; it requires all ministries and governmental agencies to prepare sustainable development action plans and to submit annual progress reports.
As another important measure in the area of reporting, the Sustainable Development Act also creates the position of Commissioner of Sustainable Development, who will be under the authority of the Auditor General 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. That is a first. This measure sends an unequivocal message as to the importance of protecting the environment. The bill also provides for the creation of a Green Plan to support the initiatives of municipalities and environmental groups in favour of sustainable development. Lastly, it creates the conditions for broad participation by institutions, businesses and local and regional communities, who can contribute by taking concrete steps to modify their behaviour with respect to development.
“This Act brings Québec into the ranks of those few political entities in the world, among them a few American states, Manitoba, Luxembourg and Belgium, who have enacted legislation bearing specifically upon sustainable development. In so doing, and with the support of the people of Québec, we have responded to the urgent appeal of the United Nations, which in 2002 at the Johannesburg World Summit exhorted the nations of the world to accelerate their efforts to implement sustainable development”, concluded Minister Béchard.
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