During November 9-17, 2019, the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute (CIRDI) welcomed a group of delegates from government organisations in Chile and Peru for a short course on Leading Practices in Environmental Assessment (EA) and Evaluation Processes in Vancouver, Canada. CIRDI is delivering this course, among others, for the Canadian Pacific Alliance Scholarship (CPAS) Program, funded by Global Affairs Canada and administered by the University of Alberta.
The course curriculum focused on both technical and governance considerations of the EA, and was customized for specific needs of the participants representing the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy in Chile, National Service of Environmental Certification for Sustainable Investments (SENACE) and the Ministry of Energy and Mining in Peru. Environmental Assessment is an important tool that supports decision-making within large industrial or infrastructure projects to ensure they meet the goals of environmental, social and economic sustainability. Within this field, Canada has a long history and valuable experience to share with the partnering countries’ governments, and strives to learn from the challenges and opportunities faced by peer governments, under a framework of transformative experiential education. This framework is a fundamental pedagogical commitment that underpins CIRDI’s learning programs as we are keen to avoid top-down approaches. CIRDI worked closely with UBC faculty lead Dr. Kevin Hanna who is the Director of the university’s Centre on Environmental Research. Reflecting on the knowledge exchange component, Dr. Hanna said:
“I found this last week that we spent with our colleagues who are visiting from Chile and Peru to be informative and really helpful to learn about the innovations and new interesting ways that they are implementing the idea of Impact Assessment in their own jurisdictions…There are some of the things that I’ve been told by our colleagues that will help inform practice in this country and help us deal with some of the challenges that we face in trying to improve impact assessment, environmental management and natural resources management generally across the country.”
In terms of technical content, the course opened with a module on the role of gender-based analysis in the EA process as an entrypoint to use the gender lens to unpack issues of access and inclusion throughout the course. In addition, CPAS course participants discussed leading practices in EA; practical regulatory and oversight challenges and opportunities; ecological values and public participation; ecosystem components and assessment methodologies; cumulative effects metrics and strategic EAs; international mining guidelines and standards; leading practices in mining; mine closure; water management; climate change; Indigenous groups: land rights and reconciliation.
The practical component was strategically integrated into a course programme to ensure hands-on learning from real projects, as well as to enhance intergovernmental collaboration and partnerships. The field trips included a visit to Vancouver Port, Roberts Bank – Terminal 2 Project, detailing the project’s 17,000-pages Environmental Impact Statement. Meetings with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum of B.C., and the Environmental Assessment Office of B.C. offered a valuable governmental perspective on complex governance challenges related to EAs.
Participants brought innovative and critical thinking to the sessions, deepening and improving the shared knowledge of the EA. CIRDI hopes the EA course will become a catalyst for the implementation of a robust EA in South America, and that the participants will share their experiences and new knowledge with their colleagues, expanding the reach of the course abroad.
Public sector capacity is one of the vital pillars underpinning CIRDI’s work, while the EA course is a good example of how the Institute works toward improved, sustainable natural resource governance.
“I am very grateful for the wonderful experience of coming to Vancouver to do this course. The topics discussed are all very applicable to my work, and make me see the possible improvements and challenges that we have in the Chilean system, particularly with regard to citizen participation and the involvement of Indigenous groups. Finally, we only have one Earth, so it makes perfect sense to connect and improve our way of managing and interacting with the environment at each step.” – CPAS EA course participant
Coming Soon: Watch out for our new video content that conveys experiential learning reflections from our course participants.
Special thanks to the course speakers & presenters:
- Kevin Hanna, Ph.D., Director of UBC’s Centre for Environmental Research;
- Gabriel Castillo, Ph.D. Candidate, Climate Adaptation Expert, UBC;
- Regina Wright, Acting Regional Director, IAA
- Fern Stockman, Project Assessment Director, EAO
- Teresa Morris, Project Assessment Director, EAO
- Lowell Constable, P.Eng, Acting Executive Director, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources of B.C.;
- Lana Eagle, Indigenous Relations Specialist;
- Bjorn Weeks, Director, Golder Associates;
- Hans Schreier, UBC’s Professor Emeritus, Land and Water Systems;
- Amar Nijhawan, CIRDI Gender Equality Lead;
- Sebastian Jarrin, CIRDI Program Officer.
Relevant CIRDI Research & Publications:
Best Practices In Environmental Assessment: Case Studies And Application To Mining by Lauren Arnold, BA & Sc, and Kevin Hanna, PhD;
Gender Analysis and Impact Assessment by Nicole Peletz, BEng, MA, and Kevin Hanna, PhD