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Final Report

Synthesis and Recommendations
What the federal government should do to remove barriers to innovation and change, and lead Canada to a sustainable society

This report on barriers to sustainability is based on a research project undertaken by the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.

This study addressed the following question.  If we accept climate change and global warming as the most urgent challenge facing our planet, what do we need to do to become a sustainable society? What barriers need to be overcome to implement the required changes?

From the outset, we recognized that the challenges of making the transition to a sustainable society in Canada are formidable. But we know from practitioners that we have all the technology we need to reduce our green house gas emission by 60% in two decades.

Instead, the most immediate challenge is to address the large number of barriers to innovation and change. These barriers reflect the habits of individual consumers, they are related to established practices and institutions, they arise from the shortage of people with appropriate skills, or they reflect unsuitable structures of government regulation. We identified more than 100 such barriers in the areas we reviewed.

Addressing this situation demands innovative approaches: new legal and regulatory frameworks, better ways of measuring and tracking our sustainable achievements, new cost-sharing arrangements, or even new leasing arrangements between landlord and tenants. But above all it will require an unprecedented level of collaboration across all levels of government – municipal, regional, provincial and federal – as well as across functions within each level of government.

The range and power of various stakeholders and the entrenched barriers to change are so intractable that only leadership by federal government can take Canada toward sustainable development.  This report proposes a compelling new opportunity for federal leadership through example, facilitation and direction.

Our first level of recommendations are directed at federal departments and agencies, which should pursue in-house energy conservation and sustainability measures aggressively, not only to show leadership by example in making these a top priority but also to learn and demonstrate how to break internal administrative and bureaucratic barriers to innovation and change.

A second set of recommendations focuses on leadership by facilitation. The government can provide key tools, standards, metrics and indicators that will allow all Canadians to understand how their actions can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and demand for energy, tracking these in real time.

Lastly, a third set of recommendations focuses on leadership by direction. This involves changes in legislation and regulations that can ultimately yield targets and metrics that are agreed upon with the provinces.

pdf-iconMaking it Happen – Synthesis and Recommendations Report final