October 16, 2006

Conference Board briefing paper on sustainability

Coinciding with the release of the CDP4 Canada 280 report was the Conference Board's publication of a new briefing paper, "Sustainability: A Winning Merger of Growth and the Environment." Its central premise states that by improving measurement and reducing overlap in provincial and federal environment regulations, economic growth and concern for the physical environment can be integrated into a single concept of sustainability.

The Conference Board further argues that environmental regulatory processes in Canada are reasonably well-designed, but they are not functioning well. Approvals for new mills, mines, oil and gas developments, and electrical generation and transmission are based more on processes than scientific and environmental evidence. Thus, they take too long and are too cumbersome.

Moreover, regulatory duplication among different levels of government makes approval processes complex and costly. The briefing document also outlines the concept of industrial ecology, in which cities would use resources more efficiently and produce less waste.

"Let's recognize that economic growth cannot come at the expense of the physical environment," said Glen Hodgson, the Board's vice-president and chief economist. "Improved measures of sustainability will help us understand the relationship between growth and its impact on the environment."

"Sustainability: A Winning Merger of Growth and the Environment" is drawn from the first volume of The Canada Project's final report, Mission Possible: Sustainable Prosperity for Canada. The full final report of the project will present more detailed ideas on principles of sustainable economic growth when it is published in early 2007.

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