September 19, 2005

Sask Forum series focuses on draft Green Strategy

Saskatchewan Environment has begun a series of six Green Forums to discuss a proposed Green Strategy for Saskatchewan. These public consultation meetings will be held across the province between September and November.

Each two-day Forum will focus on a different aspect of the proposed Green Strategy: waste reduction and management; water stewardship; stewardship of renewable natural resources; green economy and innovation; parks and representative areas; and human society and the environment.

The proposed Green Strategy is a major building block for a green and more prosperous economy. It was developed using internal and external expertise and information gathered through informal discussions with 75 external organizations during 2004.

Those discussions indicated that building a sustainable future will require immediate action and commitment and should focus on three overall goals.

Innovation Toward Sustainability: This envisions an improved quality of life, achieved over the next generation through the use of science and technology to foster innovation and economic growth and competitiveness, as well as environmental sustainability.

A Green Economy and Green Energy and Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions will be important focal points for efforts to meet this goal. Green tourism, industrial efficiencies, co-product streams and efficient, streamlined environmental regulatory systems are proposed as means through which green economic opportunities can be expanded in order to ensure competitiveness in domestic and international markets.

Green Energy and Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions calls for the development of a diversified energy economy, using various forms of green energy to reduce GHG emissions. Areas for action include increased development of green energy (wind, solar and small-scale hydropower), energy conservation and adaptation and research.

A Respected and Protected Environment: Also within 25 years, Saskatchewan is seen as a national leader in protecting the environment to ensure healthy air, water, soil biodiversity and ecosystems for the well-being of current and future generations.

Achieving this goal will involve efforts relating to Natural Resources Stewardship, Sustainable Waste Management, Water Stewardship, and Healthy People, Ecosystems and Economy. Among the action areas cited by the strategy paper are renewable resource stewardship; strategic environmental assessment; multi-municipality waste management systems; watershed planning; ecosystem risk assessment; and contaminated site cleanup.

Shared Responsibility, Integration and Accountability: This part of the strategy vision makes all governments, businesses and industry, institutions, organizations and individuals responsible for participating in, and taking responsibility for, a society that is economically, socially, culturally and environmentally sustainable.

Efforts toward this goal will involve leading by example (through measures such as green codes of practice and stewardship plans for government); action to ensure that citizens are informed and engaged (e.g. through education and incentives to make it easier to act "green"); and intergovernmental engagement (e.g. through bilateral agreements and collaborative efforts with other governments to achieve sustainability). Measuring and reporting will be an important facet of the strategy as well, through actions such as integrated monitoring, sustainability reporting and the creation of a provincial Environmental Commissioner.

"Developing a Green Strategy is something that no government, organization or individual could do alone. It is a job for everyone, working co-operatively," said Environment Minister David Forbes. He also emphasized the importance of seeking input from young people, noting that "it is our job to ensure that they have the opportunity to express those thoughts and to be part of shaping the world they will live in."

Each Green Forum will include an evening session, open to the public. The next day will focus on discussions with invited stakeholders. The information gathered will be used to develop a finalized version of a Green Strategy for Saskatchewan which will be released in spring 2006.

Comments can also be submitted through Saskatchewan Environment's Web site, or mailed or E-mailed to Saskatchewan Environment's Green Policy Section, Room 520 - 3211 Albert St, Regina S4S 5W6, E-mail Strategycomments@serm.gov.sk.ca, Web site www.se.gov.sk.ca/greenstrategy. More information is available from Art Jones at Saskatchewan Environment, 306/787-5796.

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