Country Profiles

Sustainable Development Advisory Council (SDAC)



Environment Canada

Gatineau, Quebec, K1A 0H3



Mission Statement

The SDAC is responsible for providing advice to the Minister of the Environment on drafts of the FSDS. Input provided by the members (from various backgrounds and sectors outside of Government) can be submitted to the Minister during SDAC meetings or in writing as part of the SDO’s consultation process on the draft FSDS.

The SDO at large is responsible for developing and maintaining systems and procedures to monitor progress on the implementation of the FSDS. Specifically, it must, at least once every three years, provide the Minister with a Progress Report on implementation of the FSDS. It also:

  • Provides overall leadership and coordination on matters related to the FSDS;
  • Supports the Minister in developing the triennial FSDS;
  • Implements and maintains the FSDS Management Framework;
  • Acts as a key interlocutor on behalf of ED with the CESD, Parliamentarians, other government departments (OGDs), key stakeholders and citizens;
  • Reaches out across government, international agencies and to stakeholders to build awareness of the FSDS and its contribution to progress on Sustainable Development; and
  • Contributes to the development of guidance and direction to departments/ agencies on meeting the requirements of the Act.

Composition and Membership

The Federal Sustainable Development Act 2008 established an SD Advisory Council to review any draft Federal SD Strategy (FSDS). The first FSDS was tabled in Parliament in 2010.

Chair: The Minister of the Environment.

The Council is composed of one representative from each province and territory, and three representatives from each of the following groups: Aboriginal peoples; environmental NGOs; business; and labour. Members must represent their respective organisation/industry’s interests, points of view and concerns at Council meetings. Members are appointed by the Minister.

The SDAC sits within the Sustainable Development Office (SDO) of Environment Canada under the responsibility of the Strategic Policy Branch and the Director General of the Sustainability Directorate.

Role and Functions

  • advising on government policy or making policy recommendations, including FSDS.

Recent Activities

The current FSDS indicators were selected ‘based on discussions between scientists, indicator specialists, other experts in relevant government departments and agencies, and the SDO. The SDO will continue to work with scientists and other experts to develop and evaluate a fuller set of FSDS environmental indicators. This work includes testing, verifying, and improving methodologies for gathering data and presenting it in an understandable way.’

FSDS Progress Reports present to Parliamentarians and the public the progress made by the Government since the first FSDS was tabled in October 2010. It is submitted by the SDO to the Minister of the Environment and tabled in each House of Parliament, as required by the Act.

Former National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

Former location

Slater Street, Suite 200

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1R 7Y3

Archived website:

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy Act, which was introduced in 1992 and passed in 1993, set out the role, purpose, and function of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), and established it as a federal government agency. The organization’s stated purpose was "to play the role of catalyst in identifying, explaining and promoting, in all sectors of Canadian society and in all regions of Canada, principles and practices of sustainable development."

This Act gave the NRTEE the power to support and recommend initiatives that would incorporate the principles and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of government and society throughout Canada. The NRTEE Act underlined the independent nature of the Round Table and its work. The NRTEE reported to the Government of Canada and Parliament through the Minister of the Environment.

From the beginning, the NRTEE was meant to be different. Established in 1988 to bring a new kind of leadership taking into account the relationship between the environment and the economy, for twenty-five years the NRTEE was at the forefront of some of the most important debates on how to sustain Canada’s prosperity and future. A true consensus-builder, it brought together hundreds of leaders and experts with first-hand knowledge in a diversity of areas - forests, brownfields, infrastructure, energy, water, air, wetlands, greenhouse gases, and more - and produced dozens of landmark reports and dialogues that recommended constructive policy actions and enabled changes in our communities.

The NRTEE was "Canada’s Round Table", as the only national organisation with a direct mandate from Parliament to engage Canadians in the generation and promotion of sustainable development advice and solutions. After funding was ended by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, it ceased to exist in March 2013

Mission Statement

Through the development of innovative policy research and considered advice, the NRTEE's mission was to help Canada achieve sustainable development solutions that integrate environmental and economic considerations to ensure the lasting prosperity and well-being of our nation.

From climate change to clean energy, from water sustainability to air quality, the NRTEE held that Canadians were touched by decisions made by governments, industry, and communities about environmental and economic policy and that traditional ways of thinking saw conflict between the economy and the environment. It thus aimed to reconcile environmental and economic considerations in public policy choices and posited that environmental and economic matters could not be considered in isolation from each other since they were both driven by the same objectives – to sustain Canada’s prosperity without borrowing from future generations or compromising their ability to live securely.

Composition and Membership

NRTEE Chairs 1988-2013

David Johnston
George E. Connell
Stuart Smith
Harvey Mead
Glen Murray
Robert (Bob) Page
Robert Slater (Interim)

The NRT was supported by a dynamic group of professionals led by a President and CEO appointed by Governor-in-Council. The Secretariat conducted the research and analysis required by the Members for their consideration and engaged top experts in the field who were convened for specific projects. The Secretariat also provided administrative and communications services to the NRT.

NRT Members were appointed by the Government of Canada for up to three years. Our Members were themselves a group of distinguished sustainability leaders active in businesses, universities, environmental groups, labour and public policy from across Canada.


Role and Functions

For 25 years, the NRT conducted original research and provided advice to governments on a wide range of environmental and economic issues including climate change, water management, energy futures, biodiversity protection, and governance. This research was supported by the top experts in the field. We convened these people from across the country and abroad. Their knowledge and experience brought a unique dimension to our work. The outcome was forward-looking and original reports on the most pressing environmental and economic issues facing Canada.

The Round Table process was based on a broad collaboration of stakeholders who include leaders in industry, government, and environment. One of the keys to the success of integrating the environment into our economic decisions was to ensure the support of top decision makers in the country with the will to achieve that goal. These people brought a unique perspective to our work.


Framing the Future: Embracing the Low-Carbon Economy (2012)

Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada (2012)

Canada’s Opportunity: Adopting Life Cycle Approaches for Sustainable Development (2012)

Response of the NRTEE to its Obligations Under the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (the government’s fourth Plan released in May 2011)

Changing Currents: Water Sustainability and the Future of Canada’s Natural Resource Sectors (2010)

Geared for Change: Energy Efficiency in Canada’s Commercial Building Sector (2009)

Capital Markets and Sustainability: Investing in a sustainable future (2007)

Boreal Futures: Governance, Conservation and Development in Canada’s Boreal (2005)