DND Environment Workshop 2018: Bringing the environment community together

A ship seen in the distance between two icebergs at sea
Climate change is already affecting DND’s real property portfolio across Canada, but more so in the north. The Department is planning and adapting for the impacts of climate change, such as permafrost thawing and increased natural disasters. Photo: DND/CAF

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By Kim Fauteux

More than 150 members of the Department of National Defence (DND) environment community gathered at the Palais des Congrès in Gatineau, Que., for the 2018 DND Environment Workshop, between February 20 and 22.

“This was a great opportunity to bring together the environment community in DND to exchange information, network and learn. I was really pleased with the level of participation and the quality of the agenda,” said Saleem Sattar, Director General Environment and Sustainable Management (DGESM), whose group organized the event.

On the first day, attendees had the opportunity to hear from the ADM(IE), Elizabeth Van Allen, who acknowledged that such an event had not been held in quite some time. She also talked about the Defence Energy and Environment Strategy (DEES), and how it highlights green procurement and sustainable operations. She emphasized that the environment is a priority for the Government of Canada and DND, noting that it is featured in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy.

The event featured presentations from DND personnel and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, as well as guest speakers from other departments and agencies on subjects that included greening government operations, protected areas on DND lands, and climate change adaptation. Participants got to view posters featuring some key environmental achievements, as seen in the image gallery below.

Image gallery

  • A ship seen in the distance between two icebergs at sea
  • A building seen from above with the words "Thank you Canada" written on top of the roof
  • The 3rd Canadian Division Headquarters building at CFB Edmonton
  • A military plane inside a hangar
  • Turtle
  • Wind and solar power station

The event also included breakout sessions on topics such as environmental compliance risks, communications, roles and responsibilities, engagement and environmental advice. The outcome of the exchanges within these sessions will serve as a basis in developing an action plan to address some of the identified issues.

On the second day, the group took part in a discussion session featuring Major-General Sylvain Sirois, COS(IE), Colonel Martin Gros-Jean, Commander Real Property Operations, Saleem Sattar, DGESM, and Jean Rhéaume, DND/CAF Legal Advisor. Participants asked various questions related to training, funding, non-compliance, infrastructure centralization and the meaning of shared responsibility.

Military and civilian leaders during the 2018 DND Environment Workshop

Left to right: Major-General Sylvain Sirois, COS ADM(IE), Colonel Martin Gros-Jean, RP Ops Commander, and Jean Rhéaume, DND/CAF Legal Advisor, at the 2018 DND Environment Workshop, February 20-22. Photo: DND/CAF

Seb Fournier, Acting Director of Environment and Sustainable Management, was thrilled with the level of participation from attendees and organizers alike. “The contribution from external guest speakers, but also senior management, such as the ADM herself and the COS(IE), who personally met and addressed the environmental community, was a great added value to the event. We look forward to expanding on ideas and solutions brought during the workshop,” he noted.

DGESM is considering repeating the experience for future years so that it can provide DND/CAF environmental personnel with learning and professional development opportunities, while increasing networking opportunities at all levels.

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