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NRCan's Minerals and Metals Indicators (MMI) Initiative

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

Since 1999, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has been attempting to develop sustainable development indicators (SDIs) for the Canadian minerals and metals sector. In brief, each of the indicators chosen is to represent a measurable and significant component of the minerals sector from a sustainability point of view. All indicators together, when measured regularly, should over time provide information on whether the Canadian minerals and metals sector is progressing towards greater sustainability, or not. Phase one of this effort ran from 1999-2000. It was a multi-stakeholder process at all levels, including NGO participation, from the start, at the steering committee level. Catherine Coumans took part as a representative of the Canadian Environmental Network.

In 2002, NRCan again convened a steering committee to initiate phase two of the project. While phase two was also to be "multi-stakeholder", there was no ENGO representation on the steering committee. The steering committee chose a "model" for the development of SDIs and made a first attempt to "fill in" and adapt the model for Canada's minerals sector. The model used was developed by Robert Prescott-Allen (author of "The Well Being of Nations"). It is methodologically interesting and philosophically challenging in a number of ways. A significant aspect of this model is that it deviates from the standard concept of three primary sustainable development fields: environmental, social, and economic. In this model economic aspects are subsumed in the environmental and social aspects.

The steering committee eventually invited participation from various stakeholder groups, as an "assurance group," in a meeting in November 2002 to provide the steering committee with feedback and further direction. The CEN chose Catherine Coumans and Alan Young as representatives with the understanding that CEN representation would also be provided a place at the steering committee level. After the meeting in November the steering committee decided not to include CEN representation at that level, and Catherine and Alan withdrew from the planned follow up meeting in Toronto in February 2003.

For more information on this program (organizational structure, participants, documents, etc.) see the web site set up by NRCan.