An essential part of implementing the 2011 RGS involves monitoring progress and evaluating the effectiveness of actions undertaken to achieve the RGS vision. Monitoring is part of being "accountable for our decisions and actions
" one of the sustainability principles that the 2011 RGS is founded on.
Monitoring our progress will help us understand if our actions are having the results we intended. It could indicate that policies need to be adjusted to reflect new government powers or changes in environmental, social, and economic circumstances since the planís adoption. Monitoring ensures that the RDN and member local governments are making decisions that move the region towards the vision of a more sustainable community as established in the RGS.
There have been eight annual reports documenting progress towards RGS goals since the first RGS was adopted in 1997 and the second major review during 2007-2011. These reports listed below range from descriptions of activities undertaken by the RDN to carry out policies (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001-2002, 2012) to efforts to measure progress using indicators (2000 and 2006).
RGS Annual Report 2012
This report briefly describes the RGS purpose, vision and goals in order to set the stage for documenting actions that show progress towards implementation since the RGS was updated on November 22, 2011. It does not attempt to measure how effective these implementation actions are, nor does it make recommendations for adjusting policies to improve performance. Setting performance targets and the development of measures to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the RGS is a priority action for 2013. This will involve selecting indicators that can be used to measure and evaluate how well RGS policies are working towards reaching the goals and vision of the RGS.
Next Steps for Monitoring
The RGS represents a commitment by the RDN and its member municipalities to take a series of actions to improve the quality of life for present and future residents of the region. Part of this commitment involves being accountable to residents about how the RGS is being implemented and the level of progress being made towards reaching the goals of the RGS.
The 2011 RGS addresses implementation in Section 5, stating that: "Being accountable for progress towards achieving the goals of this RGS requires a commitment to implementation, target-setting, establishing indicators, and monitoring". Reporting on annual progress shows a commitment to implementation and fulfills a requirement under the Local Government Act "to prepare an annual report on implementation and progress towards the goals and objectives of the RGS" (RGS Policy 5.2.1).
Since the RGS was adopted in 1997 there has been considerable effort put into monitoring the RGS, including background research on indicators, data collection, public participation and the work of citizen committees in identifying and selecting suitable indicators to measure progress. These efforts serve as a solid foundation for work that is currently underway to develop a monitoring program for the updated 2011 RGS.
Based on lessons learned from earlier monitoring programs and best practices for selecting targets and indicators, the following objectives will be considered as part of developing a successful monitoring program:
- Finding the right balance between selecting a practical number of indicators that clearly provide community members and the RDN with information on progress towards the RGS goals and for which data is reliable and easily accessible on a regular basis.
- Setting politically and publically supported targets that are simultaneously challenging enough to motivate change while still being realistic.
- Engaging individuals and organizations in the monitoring process in a way that encourages them to take actions that support reaching the targets set to help achieve RGS goals.