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Press Release

"SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: BECAUSE QUALITY OF LIFE COUNTS!"
MINISTER MULCAIR LAUNCHES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND TABLES A DRAFT BILL ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Quebec City, November 25, 2004 - Thomas J. Mulcair, Minister of the Environment, today announced the launch of Québec's Sustainable Development Plan. In the first step toward implementation of the plan, the minister tabled a draft bill on sustainable development in the National Assembly. The draft bill affirms the government's commitment to sustainable development, a commitment that is increasingly shared by a governments, organizations and companies as they modify their practices to take into account environmental protection, social progress and economic development in order to achieve a better quality of life.

"The goal of the draft bill is to move Québec into the forefront of governments that have the most progressive sustainable development policies. We are proposing to Quebecers that they embark on a process in which sustainable development becomes a part of their daily lives. This is an innovative initiative in that it seeks to establish the conditions that have ensured the success of similar approaches in other parts of the world," said minister Mulcair.

First condition: a legal framework set by the highest level of government

The government is expressing its commitment first by tabling the draft bill on sustainable development. "Around the world, a number of governments have made a formal commitment to sustainable development by adopting strategies and action plans. Québec is part of this movement and we believe that it is time to go farther by proposing the adoption of a bill. This bill will mark a key turning point in the direction government administrations will take in the management of sustainable development," said minister Mulcair.

In addition to setting forth the principles of sustainable development that will now guide the government's actions, the new legal framework also sets up a formal governance structure within the public service with respect to sustainable development. The draft bill calls for the adoption of a single government strategy that defines the government's vision and objectives. It also sets out the roles and responsibilities of government departments and agencies, including the development of measures and activities that comply with the Sustainable Development Strategy.

The draft bill also proposes an amendment to the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to create a new right, the right to live in a healthy environment that respects biodiversity, in accordance with the guidelines and standards set out in the Act. This right will be added to the social and economic rights already enshrined in the Charter in order to cover the major components of sustainable development: the environment, society and economy. "With this amendment to the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the government affirms the importance it places on biodiversity and the environment and is taking on a pionneering role by incorporating the pillars of sustainable development into its most fundamental law" minister Mulcair said.

The draft bill also includes requirements related to follow-up, assessment and accountability, in order to measure what is accomplished.

Lastly, the draft bill calls for the establishment of a green fund. This fund will provide environmental groups with stable funding and will support certain municipal environmental measures. It will also be used to fund sustainable development measures introduced by the Ministère de l'Environnement, particularly with respect to its own environmental programs.

Second condition: a sustainable development strategy

With this legislative framework and plan, the government will be committed to preparing and quickly adopting a sustainable development strategy. In addition, government ministries and agencies will be required to identify and make public their specific objectives with respect to implementation of this strategy, as well as their plans for achieving their goals.

Third condition: joint action by ministries and organizations

The orientations, interventions and goals of the sustainable development strategy should lead to joint and horizontal actions by government ministries and agencies, in concert with sector-based actions.

As the first and primary joint intervention in sustainable development, the minister of the Environment also released today the government's 2004-2007 biodiversity action plan.

Fourth condition: adoption of a accountability mechanism

The government will introduce a formal sustainable development reporting mechanism. This mechanism will be supported by the appointment of a sustainable development commissioner, under the Auditor General of Québec, who will assess the progress made by ministries and agencies with respect to sustainable development. Progress will also be measured by a system of sustainable development indicators.

Fifth condition: public consultation

For the government, the involvement of citizens and communities is essential to the success of any approach to sustainable development. The Minister of the Environment minister will thus conduct a regional consultation tour in the winter of 2005 to hear people's concerns and opinions about the proposed orientations of Québec’s Sustainable Development Plan.

"The draft Sustainable Development Plan I am announcing today is a consultation document that we are immediately making available to people and organizations who want to share their visions, comments and suggestions with us. I will use the recommendations that come out of the consultations to improve the draft legislation so that it better reflects the aspirations of our society. I am inviting Quebecers to participate wholeheartedly in this vast undertaking, which is based on a vision of a common approach to our development," said minister Mulcair.

The Ministère de l'Environnement website at http://www.menv.gouv.qc.ca  contains the following consultation documents: the Québec sustainable development plan (French), the summary and the draft bill on sustainable development along with the Plan gouvernemental sur la diversité biologique 2004-2007.

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Sources :

Chantale Turgeon
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
Tel.: (418) 521-3911

Louise Barrette
Communications Branch
Ministry of the Environment
Tel.: (418) 521-3823, ext. 4163

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