Mid-Term Evaluation of Industry Canada's Sustainable Development Strategy, 2003-2006 (SDS III)
Industry Canada's next sustainable development strategy (SDS IV) must be tabled before Parliament by December 2006. This mid-term evaluation of SDS III is required by Industry Canada (IC) to contribute to the development of SDS IV and to assess the achievements to date of SDS III action items. This mid-term evaluation (which also includes an update on results from SDS II) is essentially a "formative" evaluation, focused on relevance of the initiative, delivery and achievement of targets, direct outputs from action items, short-term outcomes, constraints and lessons learned.
Objectives of SDS III
SDS III has three strategic objectives:
- Innovation towards sustainable development: Continue to increase the commercialization and adoption of eco-efficient technologies.
- Corporate and community sustainability: Increase the use by industry, institutions and communities of corporate responsibility and sustainability practices.
- Sustainable development capacity building within Industry Canada: Enhance the capacity of Industry Canada's sustainable development management system.
The overall vision of SDS III reflects the department's mandate to help Canadians be more productive and competitive in the knowledge-based economy and thus improve their standard of living and quality of life. It also is in line with the view that sustainable development, along with productivity, employment and income growth, is an integral part of growing a dynamic economy.
The specific focus of the mid-term evaluation was on the following key research questions:
- What is the relevance of IC's SDS III to the government-wide sustainable development objectives?
- Is SDS III consistent with the department's mandate? How do the SDS III action items relate to IC's strategic objectives?
- To what extent is SDS III achieving its innovation towards sustainable development objective? What results is it achieving in increasing commercialization and adoption of eco-efficient tools and technologies?
- To what extent is SDS III achieving its corporate and community sustainability objective? What results is it achieving in increasing the use by industry, institutions and communities of corporate responsibility and sustainability practices?
- To what extent is SDS III achieving its IC capacity building objective? What results is it achieving in improving IC's SD management system, including the integration of sustainable development objectives into decision making, and the development and delivery of departmental policies, plans and operations?
- Have there been any unintended (positive or negative) impacts from SDS III?
- Are the SDS III initiatives cost-effective?
- What are the lessons learned from SDS III, based on factors that might have facilitated and/or impeded the implementation of the strategy?
As with previous SD strategies, Industry Canada achieved a number of successful results and identified a number of opportunities for further improvement. Among the strengths identified through this study were the use of effective partnerships, the continuing development of a robust reporting and monitoring system, and a planning process that ensures the relevance of the strategy by design. Areas for improvement discovered, include more intra-departmental communication on SD challenges and successes, more focus on measurement frameworks and reporting — and in particular the use of appropriate indicators.
Update on Achievements of SDS II
- Based on progress reports from SDS II responsibility centres, the implementation of SDS II has been successfully completed. SDS II was seen by most IC persons interviewed for this evaluation as a successful progression from the previous SDS I experience.
- The final status of SDS II, since reported on in the previous mid-term evaluation, is that all action items were either completed successfully and concluded, or completed and carried into SDS III for continued and additional SD–related initiatives.
- SDS II received a favourable assessment on the Fall 2003 performance audit conducted by the Office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on the eco-efficiency and environmental technologies strategic objectives.
- The findings on results of SDS II reported in the previous mid-term evaluation have been validated in interviews with SDS III responsibility centres.
- Industry Canada successfully integrated SD into its decision-making and planning processes during SDS II.
- During SDS II, the department has wisely used the tools and programs it has at its disposal, to achieve its targets in eco-efficiency, environmental technologies, and decision-making.
- The department has also become smarter (more effective) in collaborating and partnering with other government departments, provinces, municipalities, and private industry, non-profit organizations and associations — for SD–related activities.
- However, while the quality of discussion and expertise about SD within the department increased considerably during SDS II, the challenges of measuring mid- to long-term SD results are still quite significant.
Relevance of SDS III
- All Industry Canada's SDS III initiatives are relevant to the department and to government-wide SD goals, as described in A Guide to Green Government and in various Speeches from the Throne (1999, 2001, 2002, 2004), and the government's Budget statements (e.g., Budget 2005).
- In light of the Department's mandate to promote sustainable development, the department does have the opportunity to highlight the economic benefits of sustainable development by underscoring the links between SD and economic growth. In delivering its SD action items, the department does make the link between SD and the efficient and environmentally responsible use of economic resources, which also lead to an improved quality of life and wellbeing.
- In past SD initiatives the majority of SD action items made the strongest link with sustainable development through the department's innovation objective. This has been deemed to be one of the areas that the department can make a significant difference in SD. For example, of the 32 action items associated with SDS III, 21 are directly linked to "innovation". Most IC individuals consulted for this study, however, also believe that the department's contribution to SD has become relatively more diversified in scope across the department and across IC's other strategic objectives, compared to previous SD strategies. Nonetheless, there are advantages from pursuing an approach that focuses on those areas that make the most difference as Industry Canada has done in the past.
- SDS III initiatives are well integrated into the departments mandate and are linked to its strategic directions. The initiatives evolved through a process of internal consultation with IC staff and external consultations with stakeholders. An iterative process involving background research and discussions between IC management and staff, other government partners, and stakeholders led to the various targeted action items that make up the work agenda of SDS III. This process is seen by IC staff and management as reasonably rigorous, inclusive of differing points of view about how to tackle SD issues, and consistent with government-wide priorities. It is also seen, by IC staff and management, as having been responsive to private sector perspectives, in that an external scan of issues and consultation process formed an integral part of the process of defining the Strategy.
- IC's mandate, and its policies and programs, and SD initiatives are mutually reinforcing. IC and sustainable development are compatible, in that the department has an important role in ensuring that the government contributes to balanced decision making among economic, environmental and social dimensions of SD. This point is consistently confirmed or supported by those who were consulted within IC for this mid-term evaluation.
- While Industry Canada is not an environmental department per se, its mandate is compatible with the goals of sustainable development. Sustainable development is not just the protection of the environment. It includes the efficient and environmentally responsible use of all of Canada's resources-natural, human and economic. A healthy economy is seen by representatives within IC as one that stimulates job growth and wealth but in a way that ensures a high quality of life and a healthy environment.
Results of SDS III: Achieving Innovation Towards Sustainable Development
- Sixteen action items fall under Industry Canada's innovation towards sustainable development objective. Five action items are related to "capacity building in R&D and skills". Five action items fall under "promoting technology innovation", while six action items relate to "applying tools in the marketplace".
- IC has undertaken a broad range of activities in order to complete the innovation towards sustainable development objective. Out of 16 action items, the department is near fulfilling, has fulfilled, or exceeded requirements1 of 9 items, and is making good progress (at "mid-point") towards completing another 5. Two action items were reported to be at an "early implementation" phase but have nonetheless achieved several laudable results.
- Key mid-term results related to the achieving innovation towards sustainable development are listed below. Other results are discussed in the report.
- The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) has been highly successful in leveraging matching funds in several capacity-building projects that contribute to SD research and development on SD technologies. Some of these projects have targeted industrial waste, facilities for geomatics and sustainability, and national and regional "knowledge clusters"; and CFI has helped to attract highly qualified researchers, postdoctoral fellows and students in SD–related disciplines.
- IC support to five Networks of Centres of Excellence contributed to development of SD–related technologies/processes in automotive R&D, aquacultures, water quality, sustainable forest management, and impacts of climate change in the North.
- Developing Technology Roadmaps and establishing R&D networks is the tool used by IC to contribute to advancing the bio-based economy. This tool has proved effective in leveraging resources and promoting SD initiatives. The reach of these initiatives for SD–related initiatives was measured by IC, achieving over 2,000 Canadian researchers and private sector stakeholders, and over 50 Canadian companies.
- During 2003–05 Technology Partnerships Canada has funded 23 projects with SD–related potential such as: fuel-cell technologies, energy-efficient turbines, recycling of steelmaking dust, more efficient paper making, water filtration, integrated waste hydrogen utilization, and others. TPC is highly successful in leveraging matching funds. TPC SD contributions during 2003–05 amounted to over $320 million, leveraging some additional $784 million from private and other sources.
- Several SD–related projects were also completed with IC's support to Precarn (Pre-Competitive Applied Research Network). Precarn is a national, member-owned industrial consortium supporting the development of intelligent systems technologies. During 2003–05 Precarn funded, coordinated and promoted several collaborative SD–related research projects conducted by industry, university and government researchers. Strong partnerships developed from these projects that have contributed to advancing the commercialization of SD–technologies for marketplace relevance.
- IC has contributed to the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between government and the auto-industry, promoting a 25-percent increase in new vehicle fuel efficiency. This MOU with automotive assemblers was signed in 2005, bringing the auto industry on board. The federal government is now monitoring the MOU to assess its impacts. The auto industry has agreed to offer fuel-saving vehicle technologies to reduce GHG emission reductions by 5.3 megatons annually by 2010.
- IC has acted as a catalyst for the development of several SD–related Technology Roadmaps during 2003–05: for clean coal, biopharmaceuticals, CO2 capture and geological storage, and aerospace competitive intelligence. Industry has responded to these initiatives, driving the development of the roadmaps and collaborating on several pertinent projects.
- During 2003–05 IC has sponsored and/or participated in international workshops and trade missions to promote Canadian climate change technologies and services, which have contributed to increasing opportunities for Canadian companies to meet foreign buyers and governments interested in their technologies and climate change projects. This included outreach initiatives involving China, India, Mexico and Europe, and involved hundreds of Canadian companies indicating increased foreign commercial opportunities.
Results of SDS III: Achieving Corporate and Community Sustainability
- Ten action items fall under Industry Canada's corporate and community sustainability objective. Six action items are related to "promoting corporate responsibility and sustainability". Four action items fall under "advancing local and global sustainability".
- The department has undertaken a broad range of activities in order to complete the corporate and community sustainability objective. Out of 10 action items, the department is near fulfilling, has fulfilled, or exceeded requirements1 connected to 7 items, and is making good progress (at "mid-point") towards completing another 2. One action item is reported to be in an "early implementation" phase (although several results associated with this action item have already been achieved) and should be considered for inclusion in SDS IV.
- Key mid-term results related to the corporate and community sustainability objective of SDS III are listed below. Other results are discussed in the report.
- IC is providing positive collaborative expertise, working with other government departments to develop policy frameworks across a number of SD–related issues, including changing the regulatory regime to ensure SD and industrial competitiveness and growth are considered, contributing to energy demand-side management savings, and participating in a number of inter-departmental climate change and funding initiatives.
- It is reasonable to say that increased awareness of industrial sustainability was achieved among Canadian public, industry and government officials as a consequence of IC's activities to broaden Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
- IC is active in several CSR initiatives, developing and making available tools for self-assessment of CSR capacity, diagnosing CSR challenges, determining best practices, and prescribing solutions. IC is also active in developing CSR guidance standards and management systems.
- According to expert feedback from within the department, the quantity and quality of CSR reporting is said to have increased as a result of IC's role in improving this accountability requirement. The credibility of corporate sustainability reporting has increased.
- IC officials have been very active in establishing and contributing to inter-governmental and stakeholder electronic recycling networks that are now contributing to establishing standards and provincial regulations for e-waste recycling.
- The Computers for Schools program, a highly successful voluntary program, addressing a serious industry gap, has gained considerable momentum over the past decade. Over 1.3 million computers have been managed for re-use or recycling; and tens of thousands of other pieces of peripheral equipment. This equates to the diversion of an estimated 60,000 tons of material from Canadian landfill sites.
- The Sustainable Cities Initiative successfully evolved from a pilot project to a $15 million program covering 16 cities, 7 of which came on board during SDS III (from 2003 to the present). It is estimated that in excess of 1,500 individuals and 850 organizations (stakeholders and partners) are actively working in 16 cities in 14 countries as a result of SCI. Key informants report several successes in achieving Canadian stakeholder participation in SCI projects.
Results of SDS III: Achieving IC's Capacity Building Objective
- Six action items fall under Industry Canada's capacity building objective. All these action items contribute to the intended outcome of "improving sustainable development planning, performance measurement, and evaluation".
- The department is near fulfilling, has fulfilled, or exceeded requirements1 associated with all 6 action items.
- Key mid-term results related to the capacity building objective of SDS III are listed below. Other results are discussed in the report.
- Progress towards integrating SD into the department's strategic planning and reporting frameworks has been substantial. SD plans and reports have been fully integrated into the latest rounds of RPP and DPR reports and processes.
- Employee feedback and participation in greening operations is very positive, and supportive of the initiatives. Several initiatives during 2003–05 were launched, with a good level of participation.
- SDS evaluation initiatives are all on track, meeting the requirements of accountability and contribution to planning and management of the department's SD strategies. SD considerations are included in RMAFs and SDS III RMAF is completed.
- IC staff and management appear to be well-briefed on SD issues, the role of Industry Canada in contributing to the federal SD agenda, and the department's responsibilities towards its stakeholders and Canada's international obligations.
- The presence and participation of SD champions within the department has provided a high profile for SD within the context of IC's mandate and related activities. Four ADM champions were appointed for outreach to industry, greening operations, and SDS implementation and monitoring.
- According to interviews with managers and professional staff at IC, the department's SD web site continues to be robust and contributes to dissemination of relevant information within and outside the department (based on the number of website "hits", for example: an increase from 23,379 hits in 2004 to 25,670 hits in 2005).
- Several training and awareness initiatives on SD have been delivered to IC staff, in well-attended sessions (while overall attendance numbers were not specifically quoted in monitoring reports, anecdotal evidence from interviewees suggest that the sessions were well-attended).
Other Evaluation Findings
- Cost-effectiveness — Analysis of SDS III cost estimates and interviews with responsibility centres suggest that SDS III has been a very cost-effective delivery model for IC.
- Reporting system — IC's accountability reporting system for SDS III has substantially improved from previous SD strategies. The new monitoring system implemented during SDS III has allowed for a more systematic approach, enabling IC officials to effectively roll-up results and provide both succinct and comprehensive performance reports on targets and activities to the Deputy Minister. Unlike previous evaluations (SDS I and SDS II), none of the SDS III responsibility centres interviewed identified any substantial issues with the reporting system.
- The SD website has evolved into a robust vehicle for information dissemination on sustainable development, both for the public, for industry, and for updates and information sharing within the department itself.
- The department was also able to effectively report on SDS III progress in its most recent DPR for the period ending March 31, 2005. It was also further able to provide more detailed SDS III results on performance information by posting the progress of its 32 action items on the web ( www.ic.gc.ca/sd), thereby fulfilling a commitment it made in the 2002–03 DPR to provide more comprehensive performance information to the public.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations
Making progress — Industry Canada has substantially progressed since SDS I and SDS II in focusing its sustainable development agenda around outcomes relevant to the department's mandate. SDS III consolidated various SD initiatives underway within the department into 32 action items focused around three key objectives of the strategy: achieving innovation towards sustainable development; achieving corporate and community sustainability; and achieving SD capacity building within the department.Recommendation: Industry Canada should ensure that SDS IV action items remain at a manageable optimum number, building on the lesson learned from SDS III, which consolidated action items from 58 in SDS II to 32.
Intra-departmental dialogue — SDS III is a success in that it has been implemented horizontally across the department, in a distributed management model (i.e., a "whole of department" approach). Intra-departmental sharing of responsibilities for components of action items was a strong point of the implementation process. Reporting mechanisms and online access to information via the SD website were also substantially improved from previous SD strategies, enabling intra-departmental interaction and information sharing. Lack of occasional face-to-face dialogue across SDS III responsibility centres from different branches, however, was highlighted by some responsibility centres as a gap in the implementation strategy.Recommendation: To encourage a more "people-centric" approach during SDS IV, it is recommended that SDS IV organizers initiate periodic seminars (perhaps once a year) to engage participants and responsibility centres to share their results, and to benefit from the synergies of inter-disciplinary and professional dialogue.
Reporting — While Industry Canada's SD reporting system has substantially improved from previous SD strategies, the reporting system could benefit from a cumulative end-of-project report for each action item.Recommendation: Once an action item has been completed, the responsibility centre should prepare a cumulative report that addresses the key metrics of performance and the expected outcomes from that item.
Partnerships — An opportunity exists for establishing greater consistency between an SD strategy and the needs of IC's stakeholders, by increasing the level of meaningful interaction with the private sector and other stakeholders, throughout the strategy period. The first strategies (SDS I and II) established an interactive consultation process with external stakeholders early in the design stage, with some interactions during the lifetime of the strategy.
SDS III has improved the level of interaction with external stakeholders by establishing or participating in consultative processes and mechanisms throughout the life of the strategy. The department's interaction and teamwork with the private sector and other stakeholders has been an ongoing participatory process, resulting in spin-off benefits for SD activities and initiatives outside the department's sphere.Recommendation: Industry Canada should continue to build on the positive impacts of its partnerships, forged through SD action items, to advance sustainable development.
Anticipating the Requirements of a Cumulative Evaluation of SDS I, II, and III — The recent RMAF study for IC's SDS initiatives (March 2005) recommended that a summative evaluation include case studies as an approach to address the challenge of measuring SD strategy results, e.g., case studies of Precarn-funded projects, sustainable cities, greening operations, sustainable manufacturing, corporate sustainability reporting, technology roadmaps, and recycling computers.Recommendation: Systematically build an inventory of narratives on success-stories and case studies, identifying lessons learned and best-practices from SDS action items.
- Date modified: