Québec at Rio+20
The green economy
The green economy in Québec
In order to guide inter-ministerial work on organizing Québec’s participation in United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the Government of Québec has defined the green economy as follows:
"An economy that contributes to sustainable development by leading to improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risk and resource depletion".
This definition is adapted from Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. A Synthesis for Policy Makers ( PDF, 3 MB), published by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2011. It gives the green economy a central role in sustainable development and is adapted to Québec’s institutional framework.
Québec has many cards to play in its efforts towards building a green economy, not the least of which are a sustainable development institutional framework, an open and diversified economy, a skilled labour force, innovative and well-supported economic and social processes and tools that foster the sustainable development of its enterprises.
Based on this strong foundation, the Government of Québec has initiated a variety of actions and implemented measures to encourage the development of green economic practices that comply with the principles of sustainable development. Here are some examples of Québec initiatives:
There is no single optimal approach to transitioning to a green economy, but in every case, rising to the level of the challenge requires energizing the majority of society’s actors: businesses, individual citizens, consumer groups, researchers and decision-makers. Many such actors within Québec are already involved in this movement and hard at work.
Québec and the institutional sustainable development framework
Québec used the Rio+20 summit as a springboard for making its sustainable development measures better known: its six years of experience in policy implementation could be useful to other governments as they move forward with their own steps to sustainable development. Québec also took part in multiple forums and meetings on the sidelines of Rio+20, which provided opportunities to get the message out on broader recognition of the role played by sub-national governments in reforming the institutional framework of sustainable development.
Québec’s experience with respect to the institutional framework of sustainable development
Since 2006, the Government of Québec has based its sustainable development measures on a legal framework provided by the Sustainable Development Act. Concretely, these measures stem from the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2008-2013 that provides a framework for defining goals and the ways and means of reaching them. More than 120 Government of Québec ministries and agencies are committed to implementing the strategy through individual sustainable development action plans that formalize their undertakings. The Ministère coordinates the strategy in concert with its partners from other ministries, government agencies and other stakeholders from various sectors of Québec society.
By emphasizing the institutional framework, the government intends to pursue the challenge of ensuring synergy and coherency of actions aimed at obtaining significant results, given social, environmental and economic concerns. Not only does this framework fit Québec’s needs and context, it also matches the approach preferred by international institutions in the Rio principles and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, for example:
In our constantly evolving world, the mechanisms for assessing and revising the measures put in place by the government are intended to encourage innovation and adaptation to social change as time goes by. This participatory and transparent approach to the matter aims to enrich the process, give it credibility and create a ripple effect that will inspire Québec society. The massive mobilization of government departments and agencies to implement the strategy clearly shows that these steps are already operational, and augurs well for positive results in reaching the objectives.
These elements favour the consistency of the policies and their economic, social and environmental integration, as well as follow-up, empowerment, participation and the strengthening of national and local capabilities at all echelons. In this way, they contribute to improving and reinforcing the sustainable development institutional framework that is described in the report submitted by the United Nations General Secretary to the Rio+20 Preparatory Committee.