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Expert summit delivers key recommendations for Canada’s environmental assessment overhaul

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

For Immediate Release

Environmental lawyers present “12 pillars” of a next-generation environmental assessment regime

OTTAWA – Today West Coast Environmental Law is unveiling the outcomes of a recent summit on environmental assessment in Canada, providing the federal government with clear recommendations on how leading thinking in the field can be applied to establish a next-generation environmental assessment (EA) framework for Canada.

The summit proceedings are being submitted to the newly-announced Panel conducting the review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

“It’s clear that Canada needs a visionary new way to determine whether projects like pipelines and dams make a positive contribution to the sustainability of our environment and human well-being-,” said Anna Johnston, Staff Counsel with West Coast Environmental Law and a member of the Multi-Interest Advisory Committee (MIAC) established to assist the Panel in its review. “The principles we’re putting forward will help ensure that this new framework involves the elements needed for more democratic and science-based decision-making – including meaningful public participation, co-governance with Indigenous nations and a climate test.”

The Federal Environmental Assessment Reform Summit was held in Ottawa from May 1-3, 2016, and was organized in response to the announcement of the government’s mandated review of federal environmental assessment processes. Over 30 of Canada’s leading environmental assessment experts, academics, lawyers and practitioners gathered to discuss solutions for how to fix Canada’s broken EA regime.

The key principles and recommendations that flowed from the Summit workshops have been distilled into twelve interdependent pillars of a visionary new environmental assessment regime for Canada. These pillars include better collaboration between federal, provincial and Indigenous governments, assessments of cumulative effects at the regional level, transparent and accessible information and climate assessments to ensure Canada can meet its climate goals.

 “Right now we have an incredible opportunity to rethink the way decisions are made when it comes to projects that affect our environment and communities,” Johnson said.

“The experts we’ve been working with have put decades of thought into developing solutions, which have already been applied in assessments conducted across the country. The pillars we’re presenting today reflect how that leading thinking should be applied in the next generation of environmental assessment in Canada,” said Johnston.

Last week, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced the four-person panel that will be reviewing federal environmental assessment processes. The review is expected to get underway in early fall.


For more information, please contact:

Anna Johnston | Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law Association, (604)340-2304 (cell)


Additional resources:

Environmental Assessment Reform Summit Proceedings - Executive Summary

Environmental Assessment Reform Summit Proceedings - Complete Proceedings

For more information on the Environmental Assessment Reform Summit, see: