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Federal organizations fail to link planned actions and to provide clear reporting under target for species at risk

Press Release

Ottawa, 4 October 2022—Today, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Jerry V. DeMarco released an audit of selected government organizations’ reporting on their actions to implement sustainable development strategies. This year, the Commissioner audited how 3 organizations contributed to meeting the species at risk target under the Healthy Wildlife Populations goal in the 2019–2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and the related United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life on Land.

Overall, the audit found that Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada contributed to the federal species at risk target by identifying in their individual departmental strategies actions that they planned to take and aligning those intended actions with the federal strategy. However, it was unclear how these intended actions would support meeting the species at risk target and the related United Nations’ goal because the organizations’ plans did not include some conservation and recovery activities that are needed to track and demonstrate progress.

In addition, there were significant gaps in the reporting of planned actions, and none of the 3 organizations reported how their actions helped to achieve the United Nations’ goal, even though they are required to provide this information in their corporate reporting.

“Measurable actions and clear reporting on progress are important for conveying to Parliament and to Canadians whether Canada is meeting its biodiversity commitments,” said Mr. DeMarco. “Reporting is important, but results are what really matter. Unfortunately, on that score, the picture is not a positive one. Over the past 8 years, results have stalled well below the target for species at risk recovery.”

In related sustainable development work, the Commissioner also provided a report on the fairness of information contained in the federal government’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy progress report, and earlier this summer, he provided comments to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on Canada’s new draft Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

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The 2022 Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Report 8—Review of the 2021 Progress Report on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and Report 9—Departmental Progress in Implementing Sustainable Development Strategies—Species at Risk are available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s comments to the Minister of Environment on the Draft 2022–2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy are also available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s website.

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