While the latest version of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) dating back to 2012 has proven to be inefficient so far, a panel of experts in ecology launched a high-level public review session in order to analyze the current state of the assessment processes in Canada and suggest some ways of optimization to turn Environmental Assessment into a truly powerful decision making tool.
Unfortunately, right now this system does not achieve its initial goals to bring value to the Canadian economy, society and, what’s more important – environment. All that is due to the lack of practical information to be used during the creation of state policies and programs that are connected to ecology (e.g. pipeline approvals).
According to the Government of Canada, the EA review results will help build new policies based on essential parameters such as scientific research, respectful relations with the Indigenous peoples, and actions related to the protection of the environment. Not only will this lead to priceless ecological benefits, but will eventually influence the rate of economic growth through smart resources’ mining and safe infrastructure establishment. The idea is to replace CEAA with a new environmental law covering the items of sustainable development. In addition, the advanced assessment processes are to become more democratic. Regular citizens will get an opportunity to express their individual opinions on the matter and directly send corresponding suggestions instead of protesting on the streets or trying to make themselves heard through legal actions in court. In the end, the ongoing environmental reforms are going to bring such values as free public participation in law discussions, transparent and easily available information, equality in decision-making and sustainability.
Preparation for the wide-scale review of Environment Assessment processes started in May 2016 when the experts from all over Canada met at the Federal EA Reform Summit in Ottawa. The review itself was launched in September 2016 and guided by the 4-person Expert Panel led by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. They organized a special tour across Canada held in the form of various workshops and public gatherings, including meetings with Indigenous groups. People were granted numerous opportunities to express their views both in person and online. All in all, the Experts visited 21 cities and reviewed more than 500 online suggestions. In addition, the Panel was advised by a Multi-Interest Advisory Committee, consisting of the representatives from Indigenous organizations and various
By the end of March 2017, the Expert Panel submitted their final review report. It contains some recommendations and practical guidelines to be applied during creation of the new law. Canadians were welcome to submit their comments and suggestions that will be considered alongside the report results by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
What is happening now?
Until August 28th Canadians are welcome to read the discussion paper that summarizes some action items suggested by the government in terms of environmental assessment processes and new legislation. Here you can submit your feedback, comments, and suggestions that will be then taken into consideration by the Government of Canada and CEAA. Do not stay out of the process, express your thoughts and participate in the creation of the sustainable future for Canada!