VANCOUVER — Following extensive public consultation, an expert panel released recommendations today on how to improve Canada’s environmental assessment process. They call for a more participatory, fair, comprehensive and scientific process for environmental assessments in Canada.
“The federal government instructed this expert panel to review Canada’s environmental assessment law to identify what is needed to restore public trust in the process,” said David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy advisor John Werring. “The panel has done that in spades. We encourage government to implement the panel’s recommendations as soon as possible.”
In 2016, thousands of Canadians submitted comments to the panel, calling for significant changes that would address critical issues such as Indigenous rights, climate change, public participation and cumulative effects. The environmental assessment process is critical to ensuring that projects such as pipelines, mines and dams are held to rigorous standards.
Notably, the report recommends incorporating a climate lens into environmental assessment decision-making, an important step toward transitioning to a low-carbon future. Until now, a major problem has been that decisions concerning major energy projects have been at odds with Canada’s national commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Missing from the panel’s recommendations is a widespread call to ground environmental assessment in a rights-based approach. “More than 110 countries legally recognize their citizens’ right to a healthy environment, but not Canada. We believe the next generation of environmental assessment must include this right as a guiding principle,” Werring said.
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Senior Science and Policy Advisor, David Suzuki Foundation
Government release on EA Reform Process