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Environmental assessments

Environmental assessments of trade negotiations are an important decision-making tool for promoting sustainable development. Environmental assessments of trade negotiations contributes to more open decision-making within the federal government by engaging representatives from other levels of government, the public, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in this process. Environmental assessments also improve overall policy coherence at the national level by assisting decision-makers to understand environmental implications of trade policy.

Environmental Assessments of trade negotiations can be found in the List of Environmental Assessments.

Framework for environmental assessments

Consistent with the Government of Canada's strong commitment to sustainable development, the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals outlines ministers’ expectations for strategic environmental assessment of policy, plan and program proposals. In accordance with the Cabinet Directive, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada developed the Framework for Conducting Environmental Assessments of Trade Negotiations, which establishes the process and analytical requirements for conducting assessments and systematically identifies and evaluates the potential environmental impacts of an initiative.

Key objectives:

  • to assist Canadian negotiators integrate environmental considerations into the negotiating process by providing information on the environmental impacts of the proposed trade agreement; and
  • to address public concerns by documenting how environmental factors are being considered in the course of trade negotiations.

The process for conducting environmental assessments of trade negotiations requires both inter-departmental coordination and external consultations. The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has developed the Handbook for Conducting Environmental Assessments of Trade Negotiations to supplement the framework and to serve as a guidance manual for federal government officials engaged in conducting strategic environmental assessments of trade negotiations.

Key steps in the assessment process

The framework is intended to be flexible and generic so that it can be adapted and applied to a variety of trade negotiations on a case-by-case basis, according to the nature of the agreement to be negotiated. It outlines the process in regard to the timing and methods for engaging feedback about environmental assessments. Required outputs and decisions are also identified at each step. The process of conducting an environmental assessment corresponds to the timing of the proposed trade negotiation and includes:

  • Issuing a Notice of Intent to conduct an environmental assessment
  • Preparation of an initial environmental assessment
  • Preparation of a draft environmental assessment (if required)
  • Preparation of a final environmental assessment report.

Consultations with Canadians

Environmental protection is a core Canadian value and priority and all Canadians are welcome to provide input in the development of Canada's environmental policy and trade agenda. Public input will continue to be sought by the Government when undertaking environmental assessments of trade negotiations and official notices calling for public input will be announced in the Canada Gazette and/or DFATD’s Consultations page.

Canadians are invited to submit their comments. If you have questions about the environmental assessment process, contact us.

Environmental Assessment of Trade Agreements
Trade Agreements and NAFTA Secretariat (TAS)
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0G2
Fax: 613-992-9392

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