Strategic Environmental Assessment: Public Statement

Canada’s whole-of-government engagement in Sudan

The detailed Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) conducted on Canada’s whole-of-government engagement in Sudan focused on three of that country’s principal environmental pressures (land, water and natural resource use). It then analysed the potential significance of Canada’s activities on these pressures, and described the potential positive and negative environmental effects that would ensue. The SEA found that there is considerable opportunity for Canadian diplomacy, aid and security efforts to rehabilitate Sudan’s environment and contribute to peace through targeted efforts for sustainable and equitable development. The SEA also recommended mitigation measures to reduce the ecological footprint of some of Canada’s operations on the ground.

The recommendations are:

Recommendation 1:

For all pillars, enhance Canadian engagement by ensuring complementarity and/or undertaking joint efforts with UNEP and/or other environmentally-focused international, national and local civil society organisations in Sudan on environmental governance and natural resource management issues

Recommendation 2 (Diplomacy):

  1. Governance. Target Canadian advocacy and peace-building efforts at existing and Comprehensive Peace Agreement-mandated legislation and institutions that are responsible for environmental governance and natural resource management (from exploitation to benefit-sharing), and in particular land tenure and integrated water management.
  2. Development. Put an emphasis on the transparent, consultative participation of stakeholders at all levels to achieve science-based sustainable and equitable livelihoods, and build-in long-term environmental resilience especially with respect to climate change and desertification.
  3. Security. Ensure peace processes are supported by capacity to mediate with all stakeholders, and are informed by knowledge of environmental/natural resource triggers to conflict. Mitigate negative environmental impacts from operations.

Recommendation 3 (Aid):

  1. Governance. Support interventions that build transparent, inclusive, science-based, enforced and equitable environmental governance/natural resource management.
  2. Development. Design community development programming that ensures sustainable and equitable natural resource use and food security, and addresses longer-term environmental resilience issues.
  3. Security. Ensure humanitarian and other efforts that work closely with security forces have the capacity to contribute to conflict mitigation with respect to environmental/natural resource triggers.

Recommendation 4 (Security):

  1. Governance. Support interventions that build transparent, inclusive, science-based, enforced and equitable environmental governance/natural resource management.
  2. Development. Ensure the capacity to liaise with humanitarian and other efforts to contribute to conflict mitigation with respect to environmental/natural resource triggers.
  3. Security. Ensure military interventions are supported by capacity to mediate with all stakeholders, and are informed by knowledge of environmental/natural resource triggers to conflict. Mitigate negative environmental impacts from operations

Trade promotion and carbon market opportunities were identified, should the political situation improve.

The most recent work done on the role of environment in conflict is a February 2009 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “From Conflict to Peacebuilding, the Role of Natural Resources”. Using thirteen country/region case studies (including one on the Darfur region), the report contains six overarching policy recommendations for the UN system and the international community:

  1. Further develop UN capacities for early warning and early action.
  2. Improve oversight and protection of natural resources during conflicts.
  3. Address natural resources and the environment as part of the peacemaking and peacekeeping process.
  4. Integrate natural resource and environmental issues into conflict planning.
  5. Carefully harness natural resources for economic recovery.
  6. Capitalize on the potential for environmental cooperation to contribute to peacebuilding.

With the stated goals in mind, this SEA is intended to:

  1. provide decision-makers with information about the potential environmental impacts of proposed courses of action in Sudan, and in doing so
  2. propose ways in which environmental considerations can be incorporated into Canada’s policies, plans and programmes for Sudan, and
  3. how Canada can use these same activities to attenuate the environmental and natural resource aspects of the conflict overall.