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A new initiative designed to reward businesses that show environmental leadership will offer incentives to companies that achieve environmental performance targets has been announced by Ontario, Canada Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer.


"Right now there are too few reasons for a company to take the initiative and do more than just meet our regulations," said Witmer. "Co-operative agreements show that we are serious about increasing private sector participation in environmental protection."


The proposed "co-operative agreements" would recognize businesses' environmental leadership by offering streamlined paperwork, an accelerated approvals process and public recognition. The aim would be to encourage businesses to go above and beyond existing environmental standards.


Co-operative agreements are one of the best practices identified in the Managing the Environment report, released by the Canadian government in 2001. Three environmental groups have indicated their support for the government's introduction of cooperative agreements: Friends of the Earth, Environmental Defence Canada and Pollution Probe.


"The Ministry of the Environment is making important strides to improve environmental initiatives in Ontario," said Burkhard Mausberg, Executive Director, Environmental Defence Canada; Ken Ogilvie, Executive Director, Pollution Probe; and, Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Earth Canada, in a letter to the ministry. "The resources that will be made available by the MOE to help (environmental groups) implement agreements also demonstrates your commitment to work towards an improved environment."


The Canadian government has posted a model cooperative agreement with the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) on the Ministry of the Environment's Environmental Registry (see The agreement is open for a 90-day public comment period. Under such an agreement, individual facilities in the association could apply to take part, agreeing to meet pre-determined targets that go beyond regulatory requirements. In exchange, the Ministry of the Environment would provide them with additional technical assistance and other incentives.


Facilities that sign-on must produce annual reports that track their progress, and communicate openly about their participation and steps forward. Facilities that fail to meet the terms of the agreement may be withdrawn from the program and a number of additional consequences may apply.


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