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Discussion - Next Steps for RCE Americas Network

Discussion - Next Steps for RCE Americas Network
Dr. Roger Petry, RCE Saskatchewan
8th Americas Regional Meeting
23-25 September, 2019, Burlington, USA

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Discussion - Next Steps for RCE Americas Network

  1. 1. Common Issues Across Americas  Large organizations (e.g. business, government) reaching ecological limits (e.g. protected areas, natural resource limits) and social limits (e.g. requirements for public input and consultation)  Limits currently upheld by constitutions, legislation, policies, and regulations at local, state, and national levels  For sustainable development, need limits enforced for organizations to face shared incentive and level playing field for innovation  Regulation perceived as cost/barrier to business/politics as usual: International organizations (such as the International Democratic Union led by Stephen Harper—former Canadian Prime Minister) aimed to support rapid (“shock and awe”) dismantling of these legislative limits (little to no public disclosure implying little to no electoral mandate)  A bargaining strategy: dismantle environmental and social protections so extensive public action needed just to return to status quo; costs imposed elsewhere (e.g. on citizens/consumers and natural systems)
  2. 2. Examples of Dismantling Legislative Limits  suspending parliaments/legislatures (e.g., U.K. prorogation)  shifting legislative responsibility to improper authorities within government (Brazil forest fires in Amazon allowed by shift to government ministry with conflict of interest in environmental enforcement; Saskatchewan and wetlands oversight shifted from Ministry of Environment to Ministry of Highways)  eliminating monitoring (e.g. Government of Alberta dismantling carbon monitoring; Environmental Protection Agency in U.S.)  eliminating oversight processes (e.g. federal Environmental Impact Assessment in Canada exempting potash mines)  shifting state responsibility to local governments without adequate resources and competence for oversight (e.g. rural municipalities in Saskatchewan (vs. province) needing to negotiate with large mines or rule on culturally sensitive archeological sites)
  3. 3. SDG 16: RCEs Appealing to Deeper Legislative Structures, Local Communities, and Public Awareness  Deeper legislative structures within democracies can be appealed to (e.g. UK Supreme Court overruling prorogation)  Authority of RCEs to appeal due to: (1) intellectual expertise (e.g., scholars and community experts/local knowledge) (2) ethical commitments (e.g., SDGs) (3) political authority (part of UN system & familiarity with UN conventions to which own governments are signatories)
  4. 4. Ability of RCEs to Act in Support of SDG 16  Place actions on the public record (e.g. for future auditors, ombudsmen, journalists, other politicians, and police/judicial authorities)  Request governmental reply: reply requires public policy rationale (if lacking or in error can be adjudicated in courts)  Request existing assessment processes be applied: request for impact assessment can trigger internal governmental processes  Share correspondence broadly with stakeholders and public: leads to external monitoring by other levels/branches of government & media, academic study, and public scrutiny  Advocate for long-term citizen interest through the SDGs: gain visibility & standing (among businesses, civil society, scholarly community, government officials) and attract new volunteers/support; prevents illegitimate political strategies