Environment Handbook for Community Development Initiatives
Table of Contents
Note: Since May 2014, a new Environmental Integration Process (EIP) applies to Global Affairs Canada development initiatives in order to comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA 2012). Until updated guidance is available, this handbook applies with the exception of section 3.1.2's CEAA-specific details.
Second Edition of the Handbook on Environmental Assessment of Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions Programs and Projects.
- Canadian Council for International Co-operation
- Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
- Canadian Partnership Branch
- Environmental Management System
- Non-governmental Organization
This handbook is intended to outline the environmental requirements for small-scale community development initiatives, including humanitarian assistance, funded by Global Affairs Canada. All initiatives supported by Global Affairs Canada are subject to the same environmental requirements, which are based on Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This handbook recognizes the specific challenges of incorporating environmental considerations into community development initiatives and provides assistance to organizations involved in these types of initiatives. This handbook is primarily targeted to voluntary sector organizations (non-governmental organizations, institutions, professional associations, universities, colleges, and so on), but may also be useful for private sector organizations involved in small-scale community development initiatives. Private sector organizations seeking funding through the Canadian Partnership Branch's Industrial Cooperation Program should refer to the Handbook on the Integration of Environmental Considerations into Proposals Submitted to Global Affairs Canada's Industrial Cooperation Program.
Global Affairs Canada has undertaken various initiatives to help voluntary sector organizations consider the environmental implications of their activities. For example, in the late 1980s, the Agency funded a series of manuals, entitled "Environmental Screening of NGO Development Projects," which was produced by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC). Workshops on environmental issues were also held for voluntary sector organizations across Canada in 1989, 1990-1991, 1997 and 2003.
Although not intended to provide an exhaustive account of approaches and situations, this guide is part of this ongoing support process and is the second edition of the Handbook on Environmental Assessment of Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions Programs and Projects, which was originally published in 1997. There are two major differences between the first and second edition of the handbook.
- This second edition places greater emphasis on the identification of environmental benefits and opportunities, as well as on environmental follow-up and monitoring aspects.
- This edition introduces a change in terminology to reflect a streamlined approach within Global Affairs Canada and to be more consistent with internationally recognized environmental tools and processes. Specifically, a "program environmental analysis" is now referred to as a "strategic environmental assessment." The "environmental assessment" tool is explicitly seen as an overarching tool that addresses both a Canadian legal requirement (the CEAA) and Global Affairs Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability. The term "project environmental analysis" is no longer used to refer to a specific tool with predetermined content elements, since it essentially stems from environmental assessment practices, and any analysis will vary according to the nature of an initiative. For organizations that have developed internal tools or procedures reflecting the first edition's terminology, there is no obligation to change existing internal documentation to adopt the terminology used in the second edition.
1. Global Affairs Canada and the Environment
1.1 Environment and Development Linkages
Reducing poverty and addressing local, regional, and global environmental issues are important present-day challenges. Populations around the world are facing various socio-economic and environmental issues associated with inequitable access to potable water, soil degradation, and climate change, for example. Although poverty does not necessarily lead to environmental degradation, the two are interrelated. In addition, each has the potential to exacerbate the other. Poorer populations are often the most affected by environmental degradation (for example, having to obtain drinking water from polluted water bodies or to farm on marginal lands). They are also the most vulnerable to environmental risks (for example, weather- or geology-related phenomena and conflicts that have natural resource implications).
The environmental tools presented in this handbook recognize this interrelatedness and consider the environment to include both biophysical and socio-economic aspects. Their aim is not only to prevent environmental damage, but also to enhance environmental benefits. These tools can therefore help in developing more effective, better adapted, and contextually relevant development and poverty reduction initiatives, which have better chances of success and of long-term sustainability. Initiatives that integrate environmental considerations and optimize environmental benefits in their design, implementation, and monitoring ascribe to good development practice. Such initiatives can achieve the following:
- promote sustainable development;
- multiply the beneficial effects on the environment, health, and society;
- promote participation by the local population early in the planning process;
- be more acceptable to local populations and various stakeholders;
- clarify linkages between ecosystems, society, and economics;
- clarify environmental and social problems at the outset, thereby making it possible to alleviate or solve them, while avoiding delays and additional costs; and
- enhance the environmental awareness and management skills of Canadian and host country partners.
1.2 Environmental Policy and Regulatory Context
The international community recognizes the interrelatedness of poverty and the environment, and views environmental quality as a key factor for achieving sustainable development. For example, goal number seven of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2000) highlights the need to ensure environmental sustainability to efficiently combat poverty and support sustainable development. Many linkages can also be made between the environment and the other Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, developing and industrialized countries have ratified various multi-lateral environmental agreements, recognizing the need for transboundary cooperation on regional and global environmental issues. Examples of such agreements include the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and so on. Beyond these international commitments, a growing number of both industrialized and developing countries are strengthening their environmental policies and legislation to address environmental concerns at the national level. For example, many countries have developed environmental assessment legislation, and the majority of international aid donor countries and institutions have adopted environmental guidelines and environmental assessment requirements.
The Canadian government's and Global Affairs Canada's commitment to the environment is reflected in Canada's foreign policy statement, Canada in the World (1995). Global Affairs Canada must comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). One key purpose of the CEAA is "to ensure that projects are considered in a careful and precautionary manner before federal authorities take action in connection with them, in order to ensure that such projects do not cause significant adverse environmental effects" [article 4(1), CEAA]. In addition, in accordance with the 1999 Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, Global Affairs Canada must conduct and apply strategic environmental assessments on its proposed policies, plans, and programs.
Global Affairs Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability and Global Affairs Canada's Sustainable Development Strategy emphasize that the environment is both a programming priority and an issue that needs to be integrated in all Agency plans, policies, programs, and activities. Finally, Global Affairs Canada's commitment to environmental concerns is also reflected in the document entitled Policy Statement on Strengthening Aid Effectiveness (2002) and in the Key Agency Results (published in 2002).
When considering its support for development initiatives, Global Affairs Canada takes into account the international, Canadian, and host country regulatory environmental frameworks. Global Affairs Canada is committed to working with its partners to ensure that initiatives are planned, implemented, and monitored in a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable manner. This handbook, although not intended to provide an exhaustive account of approaches and situations, aims to outline Global Affairs Canada's environmental requirements and to provide assistance in integrating environmental considerations. The first section of this handbook presents the rationale for environmental integration, as well as the policy and regulatory context associated with this crosscutting theme. Section 2 (Global Affairs Canada's Environmental Requirements and Procedures) provides information on the procedures associated with Global Affairs Canada's environmental requirements for the Canadian Partnership Branch, the Multilateral Programs Branch and the bilateral branches. Section 3 (Environmental Tools) presents environmental tools for meeting Global Affairs Canada's environmental requirements and enhancing the environmental sustainability of initiatives. Finally, the handbook's accompanying document, entitled "Additional Resources", provides a variety of supporting materials to assist organizations in their efforts to integrate environmental considerations.
2. Global Affairs Canada's Environmental Requirements and Procedures
As indicated in the Foreword of this document, Global Affairs Canada's environmental requirements are based on the Agency's Policy for Environmental Sustainability and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). This section provides a framework for the environmental requirements and procedures of Global Affairs Canada. The framework presented in this section serves as a guide, reflecting the most typical situations. Since exceptional cases do arise, partners are encouraged to contact the appropriate Global Affairs Canada manager or environmental specialist, and to consult contractual documents signed with the Agency, to clarify these aspects. Partners are also encouraged to consult the proposal submission guidelines for the program from which they are soliciting Global Affairs Canada funding, when such guidelines exists.
Global Affairs Canada's partners are expected to possess a level of environmental institutional capacity commensurate with the degree to which their activities affect the environment. This could include having access to, or resources for, environmental expertise. In addition, partners are expected to integrate environmental considerations into the planning/design of initiatives.
Certain Global Affairs Canada programs or funds involve the submission of a preliminary proposal (for example, the description of the project concept when applying to bilateral programs, and letters of intent for TierFootnote 1 initiatives of the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program). In these cases, it is appropriate to identify the potential environmental implications of the proposed initiatives. To gain a better understanding of the environmental questions to address, partners may consult proposal submission guidelines, where they exist, or contact the appropriate Global Affairs Canada manager or environmental specialist.
At the detailed proposal stage, all proposals with environmental implications are expected to contain an environmental component that reflects the scope and nature of the proposed initiative. Environmental considerations should be integrated in a cross-cutting manner within the main text of the proposal and in other key documents (for example, Results-Based Management Planning Sheets, Logical Framework Analysis, and so on). Such proposals must identify the environmental implications of the proposed activities (including the environment's possible impact on the activities) and demonstrate the organization's capacity to manage relevant environmental issues. Consequently, whenever appropriate as per the environmental linkages of the initiative, proposals are expected to fulfil the following.
- Demonstrate the organization's capacity to address the environmental issues associated with the initiative and to meet any environmental requirements stipulated in Global Affairs Canada contractual documents. For example, organizations could include reference to their environmental management system (EMS) if one has been developed, or indicate their environmental experience, expertise, or resources.
- Include an analysis of the environmental implications of the proposed initiative. Typically, such an analysis describes the status of the environment at the initiative's site, clarifies the context with respect to the applicable environmental regulations and policies, and identifies environmental issues or risks associated with the proposed initiative, including its potential impacts and the ways in which they will be managed. It is important to remember that, through the analysis, organizations aim not only to mitigate adverse environmental impacts but also to maximize the initiative's environmental benefits and its contribution to sustainable development.
Furthermore, in cases where substantial environmental implications are associated with the initiative (for example, the management or transformation of natural resources, infrastructure, construction, and so on), an environmental assessmentFootnote 2 may be requested to supplement the initial analysis of the initiative's environmental implications. In the specific case of initiatives that constitute a "project" as defined in the CEAA (see Section 3.1.2), this assessment will have to be completed, submitted for review to Global Affairs Canada, and accepted by Global Affairs Canada before Global Affairs Canada funds are committed to the initiative's implementation.
Finally, in the case of program initiativesFootnote 3 submitted to CPB and, similarly, initiatives with a number of related sub-components submitted to other branches, a strategic environmental assessmentFootnote 4 is expected to be included in the proposal to serve as the analysis of the environ-mental implications of the proposed initiative.
Depending on the nature of the initiative, however, there may be some variations in the procedures described above. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis and stipulated in the contractual document signed with the Agency. It is particularly important to note the CEAA-related responsibilities of CPB's program NGO partners. Box 1 describes these responsibilities.
Although it is important to consider environmental issues during the planning stages, it is equally important to carry environmental considerations through to the implementation and monitoring/ evaluation phases. Therefore, reports to Global Affairs Canada are expected to include relevant environmental information pertaining to the reporting period and indicate any changes that may have occurred, in accordance with the environmental requirements stipulated in the contractual document signed with the Agency. Where applicable, these reports must include the following:
- any changes to the organization's approach/ capacity in environmental management or assessment;
- results of environmental monitoring/follow-up activities identified in environmental assessments or during the planning and implementation phases of the initiative, as they relate to identified environmental objectives, environmental indicators, and mitigation measures. Please note that the results of an environmental assessment (e.g. chosen mitigation measures and responses to public concerns) or the results of another form of environmental diagnostic can be re-invested in the results-based management logical framework (e.g. in the activities, results, and risks/ assumptions of an initiative).
Box 1: CEAA-Related Responsibilities of CPB's Program NGO Partners
Given the unique nature of the CPB program funding mechanism, organizations are assigned particular responsibilities for environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA, as outlined in the environmental clause of their contractual document.
This environment clause contains two sections. The first outlines the organization's responsibility to systematically integrate environmental factors into its decision-making processes (in line with Global Affairs Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability). The second outlines the organization's environmental assessment responsibilities in accordance with the CEAA. In essence, the clause makes these partners responsible for the following:
- determining if the activity requires an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA;
- ensuring that an environmental assessment is carried out for all "projects" that require an environmental assessment, once essential "project" details are known and before irrevocable decisions are made;
- ensuring the quality of environmental assessment reports produced (see Box 11);
- determining if the "project" is likely to bring about significant adverse environmental effects;
- ensuring that no part of program funding is used for the implementation of a "project" that is likely to create significant adverse environmental effects; and
- ensuring that identified mitigation measures are implemented.
To better ensure that organizations have the capacity to assume these responsibilities, Global Affairs Canada encourages them to develop and implement an environmental management system that appropriately reflects the nature and scope of the organizations' programming as it relates to the environment. Although Global Affairs Canada does not participate in the project-level decision-making process for such organizations, the Agency will ensure that the organizations have established appropriate environmental practices and have the capacity to carry out these responsibilities. During the period covered by the contractual document, and for five years following its end date, Global Affairs Canada may monitor the environmental practices of the organization. Monitoring may involve the consultation of documents and reports produced by the organization and/or visits to the organization and its sites in the field. In addition, Global Affairs Canada may request a copy of the environmental assessment reports and may perform environmental audits of the initiatives. Please note that environmental assessment reports completed under this process are not filed with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry.
In the case of initiatives with many sub-components (for example, CPB programs), the report is also expected to include a list of environmental assessments completed for initiatives in accordance with the CEAA during the previous reporting period, as specified in the environment clause of the contractual document signed with Global Affairs Canada.
This handbook's accompanying document, "Additional Resources", includes environmental follow-up/monitoring tools, which may useful to assist reporting activities.
Global Affairs Canada monitoring may involve the consultation of documents and/or visits to the organization and its initiatives in the field. Environmental matters will also be considered in the evaluation of organizations.
3. Environmental Tools
The environmental tools presented in this section are intended to assist in meeting CIDA's environmental requirements and helping to enhance the sustainability of development initiatives. This section outlines the following tools:
- environmental assessments;
- strategic environmental assessments (previously referred to as "program environmental analyses");
- environmental management systems.
Not all tools are required in every circumstance, and partners should consult Section 2 for guidance on CIDA's environmental requirements and procedures. In addition, these tools are not intended to be an exhaustive description of approaches for integrating environmental considerations and conducting assessments of environmental effects. Although certain minimum standards must be met to satisfy CIDA's requirements, partners are encouraged to use and adapt these tools to reflect their realities. The principles on which these tools are based are described in Box 2 below.
Environmental Follow-up/Monitoring Tools are also important for the integration of environmental considerations. The accompanying document to this handbook, "Additional Resources", includes a section dedicated to this topic.
3.1 Environmental Assessments
An environmental assessment is both a tool and a process to assist in planning, environmental integration and decision-making. It serves to define an initiative's environmental dimensions (biophysical, cultural, socio-economic; as well as negative and positive) and to identify measures needed to prevent the initiative from causing ecological damage and generating social costs. It also serves to identify opportunities to achieve environmental benefits and positive environmental outcomes, even when the primary focus of activities is not necessarily environment-related.
An environmental assessment is specific to the initiative and its site, and must consider all components and phases of the initiative. By completing the assessment as early as possible in the planning process, it is possible to alter the design of an initiative to eliminate or minimize adverse effects, while optimizing environmental benefits.
Preferably, organizations will perform environmental assessments with their local partners. Participatory approaches recognize the importance of local community members' participation and help build local capacities to resolve environmental issues. The References section of this handbook provides additional references relating to participatory approaches. This handbook's accompanying document, "Additional Resources", also includes a section on participatory appraisal techniques for addressing environmental matters.
Box 2: Principles of Environmental Tools
Self-assessment - Partner organizations are responsible for anticipating and assessing the environmental effects of their initiatives.
Early Application - Environmental tools must be applied at the beginning of an initiative's planning process, before important decisions about its design are finalized.
Comprehensive Definition of the Terms "Environment" and "Environmental Effect" - All potential environmental effects must be taken into consideration, including effects on the natural environment, health and hygiene, socio-economic conditions, current land and resource use, as well as physical and cultural heritage.
Open and Participatory Process - Communities in the host country must be consulted, and decisions must reflect their concerns. It is important to include all interested parties. Transparency and accountability to Canadians are also important principles.
Efficiency and Cost-effectiveness - The effort and level of detail applied to these tools must reflect the nature and scope of the initiative. Characteristics of the proposed location and the seriousness of the potential effects should determine the extent of the study.
While environmental assessments are based on a broader theoretical foundation outside of CIDA (often referred to as environmental impact assessments), the tool presented here seeks to address a Canadian legal requirement (the CEAA) and CIDA's Policy for Environmental Sustainability. The References section of this handbook provides additional references relating to environmental assessments.
3.1.1 Contents of an Environmental Assessment
A typical environmental assessment report to CIDA generally consists of nine components:
- Description of the Initiative
- Host Country Legislation
- Description of the Environment
- Analysis of Environmental Effects and Their Significance
- Public Participation and Concerns
- Mitigation Measures
- Follow-Up and Monitoring
The appropriate level of effort and detail in an environmental assessment will depend on the nature, scope, and location of the initiative, as well as its relationship to the CEAA. This handbook's accompanying document, "Additional Resources", contains examples of environmental assessments that reflect different types of initiatives.
A) Description of the Initiative
his section is very important to convey an understanding of the initiative's context. It should describe the following:
- the type of initiative (e.g. construction of latrines, roads, housing) and its purpose;
- the initiative's components, technical specifications, products, and activities that may have environmental implications (including different phases, such as site preparation, construction, implementation, operations, and decommissioning) as well as the planned time frame for implementation;
- the initiative's relationship to the CEAA; if "physical works" are planned, their dimensions, scope, location, and proximity to water bodies and other vulnerable environmental components should be detailed (maps, drawings, and photos may be provided, showing the location, the arrangement of the structures, the site, and its surroundings);
- how the design of the initiative has incorporated environmental objectives and has sought to enhance environmental benefits and opportunities (e.g. an agriculture initiative that promotes organic farming; a microcredit initiative that strengthens the environmental capacities of persons responsible for attributing funds; a health clinic initiative that includes biomedical waste management and activities to raise awareness of the relationships between health and environmental conditions; an irrigation initiative that includes reforestation of the watershed; and so on).
For more complex initiatives, this section may also include the alternatives considered and the rationale for selecting a particular option.
Box 3 contains a brief example of an initiative's description. The purpose is not to describe the initiative's general objectives in detail, but rather to be as precise as possible concerning its components and activities that pertain to the environment. A complete description is important to allow the reader to understand the potential environmental implications of the initiative and determine whether the report appropriately addresses these issues.
Box 3: Brief Example of an Initiative's Description
- Type of initiative: construction of a school to meet the population demand.
- Activities: levelling over an area of 150 m2, accessing and transporting construction materials, building the school, building the school latrines, drilling a well, conducting classroom educational activities such as laboratory activities, and so on.
- CEAA and structures: 200 m2 site located at the east of the village of Bainet in Haiti; school building of 120 m2; closest water body is more than 100 m away; no other vulnerable environmental components were identified on the site and its surroundings; site is adjacent to a residential area, and so on.
- Map/sketch/photo of the site and its neighbouring area, of the main biophysical and human features, and blueprint for the school.
- To optimize the environmental benefits, "train the trainer" activities in environmental education have been integrated into the design of the initiative.
B) Host Country Legislation
This section should:
- describe the host country's environmental legal requirements that pertain to the initiative (for example, major policies, required permits, applicable standards, environmental assessment requirements, the Local Agenda 21 that stems from the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development - Rio Earth Summit);
- indicate how the initiative adheres to these requirements.
Any requirements of the host country in terms of the environmental assessment of the initiative must be respected. It is also important that the use of the relevant local legislation and procedures be promoted. It may be possible to complete a single report that addresses both local requirements and CIDA's requirements (including those related to the CEAA, where applicable). In these circumstances, organizations are encouraged to contact their CIDA manager and/or environmental specialists. Finally, multilateral environmental agreements ratified by the host country or Canada and related to the initiative should also be taken into account. Examples of multilateral environmental agreements include the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and so on.
|Biophysical Environment||Human Environment|
C) Description of the Environment
This section describes the features of the environment, and specifies the current state of the environment, including the extent to which the environment has already been disturbed or is particularly fragile. It is important to focus on components of the environment that may affect or be affected by the initiative and that are particularly sensitive, or socially and ecologically important. The absence of such sensitive or important elements should be stated explicitly. Maps, drawings, and photos are often useful. The biophysical environment and the human environment must be covered (see Table 1 for examples). Without a comprehensive description of the environment, a reader cannot assess the accuracy of the environmental assessment.
This section should describe where and how the information was collected, presented, and interpreted for conducting the environmental assessment, including the following:
- sources of information and references (e.g. documents and websites, government agencies, universities, local population, groups consulted, expertise of persons providing technical advice);
- information gathering methods (e.g. field visits, surveys, literature review, technical analyses, and methods for ensuring public participation);
- who conducted, and was involved in, the assessment;
- methods of assessing environmental effects and their significance (determining the significance is a legal requirement of the CEAA, which helps to justify the conclusion of the environmental assessment).
Box 4: Examples of the Environment's Effect on the Initiative
- Flood damage to crops, infrastructures, and populations
- Soil instability that damages human settlements and infrastructures
- Damage to a dam or irrigation structure from erosion and alluviation
- Water level fluctuations affecting agricultural activities or water availability
- Earthquake damage or damage caused by other "natural catastrophes"
- Crop damage caused by displaced wildlife, and so on.
Box 5: Examples of Positive Effects
Potable water distribution and sanitation initiative:
- Improved health conditions and quality of life
- Cleaner and more easily accessible drinking water
- Improved sanitation, and so on.
Agroforestry initiative that integrates environmental practices:
- Improved health conditions and quality of life
- Improved soil quality: soil amendment programs, soil conservation programs, programs to control desertification and soil erosion
- Regeneration of natural resources: reforestation
- Increased incomes as a result of regenerated natural resources
- Restoration of wildlife habitats
- Biodiversity conservation
- Community participation in the regeneration of natural resources and environmental improvement, and so on.
Box 6: Examples of Adverse Effects That May Be Associated With an Intensified Agriculture Initiative Accompanied by Irrigation Structures
- Health problems caused by the inappropriate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
- Risks of water-borne diseases associated with the creation of stagnant water ponds
- Deforestation and deterioration of wildlife habitats
- Reduced biodiversity in terms of ecosystems or species
- Health and occupational safety risks related to the inappropriate use of machinery
- Erosion, salinization, or soil degradation
- Depletion and degradation of water sources
- Conflicts over the use of land or water and possible cumulative effects of an inequitable distribution of land or water rights
- Problems affecting women in particular, for example, limited access to natural resources, land, or water
- Health and safety risks related to potential accidental spills of pesticides in water
- Conflict with local cultural values, and so on.
E) Analysis of Environmental Effects and Their Significance
This section is central to the objectives of an environmental assessment. It should describe the initiative's effects (for all components/activities and phases) on the environmental components and determine the significance of these effects. In particular, it should include the following:
- the initiative's positive and adverse effects on the biophysical and human environment;
- the environment's effects on the initiative (e.g. likely weather-related phenomena, such as cyclones and other tropical storms, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and drought; as well as likely geology-related events, such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and landslides);
- cumulative effects (e.g. the effects that are likely to result from the initiative in combination with other structures, initiatives, or activities that have been or will be carried out in the area);
- effects of potential accidents (e.g. the risks of pollution associated with chemical product spills) or malfunctions (e.g. the risks for workers' health and occupational safety in the event of machinery malfunctions).
This handbook's accompanying document, "Additional Resources", includes tools to help identify the environmental effects of specific activities and presents appropriate guidelines, mitigation measures, and environmental indicators associated with each sector of activity. Boxes 4, 5 and 6 present examples of various kinds of effects.
The significance of each of the predicted effects must be determined:
- First, an effect is qualified as being either negative or positive.
- Second, a scale is used to determine the severity of the effect; for example, an effect of low, medium, or high significance. It is not sufficient to simply state the significance of the effect. This determination must be justified, coherent, and documented, notably by a determination methodology, which must be described in the methodology section of the report.
There are many recognized methodologies to determine the significance of effects. One such example is presented in Box 7.
Box 7: Example of Methodology to Determine the Significance of the Predicted Effects
A comparative analysis of the following criteria can be useful in making a determination on the significance of each of the predicted effects.
- Probability/risk: What is the probability that the effect will occur?
- Value: Will the effect influence rare environ-mental components, environmental components of social importance and of importance for the ecological balance?
- Intensity: What intensity of stress will be generated by the effect? What will be the capacity of the environmental components to withstand the changes induced? To what degree (e.g. low, medium or high) will the environmental component be altered?
- Geographical scope: Over what distance (e.g. locally, regionally, or globally) could the effect be felt?
- Duration: How long could the effect last? Would the effect be felt on a short-term basis or on a long-term basis? Will it be recurrent? Persistent? Cumulative?
The effect of an initiative can be considered significant if, for example:
- it causes permanent damage to a scarce natural resource or one that has ecological or socio-economic importance (e.g. water, soil, forests, fisheries, a traditional way of life);
- it takes place in a particularly sensitive area (e.g. near a source of drinking water, a protected site or a steep slope that is vulnerable to erosion);
- it directly affects the health of the population (e.g. toxic substances released into the ground or directly into waterways).
F) Public Participation and Concerns
This section should describe the following:
- the efforts made to engage the public and those affected by the initiative, to ensure social representation, and to promote sensitivity toward indigenous knowledge, and social and traditional values;
- demographic characteristics of the participants (e.g. gender, age, ethnic group, socio-economic group);
- public concerns and expectations with respect to the initiative;
- controversial points that have been raised;
- responses to public concerns (and additional meetings that may be conducted to ensure a thorough understanding of the initiative and the results of the environmental assessment).
G) Mitigation Measures
This section is also very important in relation to the basic objectives of an environmental assessment. It deals with the measures that will be implemented to avoid or reduce adverse environ-mental effects and to increase the positive environmental effects of the initiative. This section also deals with mitigating the effects of the environment on the initiative (for example, measures serving to prepare for natural disasters and/or to reduce the impact of natural hazards). This last aspect is also referred to as disaster risk management or a disaster preparedness strategy.
This section should describe the following:
- mitigation measures (see Table 2 for examples, including examples of disaster risk management / disaster preparedness strategy);
- residual effects (the effects that may persist in spite of the mitigation measures applied), their significance (as also mentioned under the section "analysis of environmental effects and their significance") and uncertainty factors.
The accompanying document, "Additional Resources", includes tools to help identify the environmental effects of specific activities and presents appropriate guidelines, mitigation measures, and environmental indicators associated with each sector of activity.
|Environmental Effect||Possible Mitigation Measure|
|Adverse effects on fragile sites or sites of particular value (water bodies, drinking water source, steep slopes, cultural sites)|
|Soil degradation/instability during construction (erosion, exposure to weather, excessive compaction, pollution from machinery)|
|Deforestation and adverse health effects of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from firewood combustion|
|Soil degradation associated with intensive agriculture|
|Negative health effects from surface water degradation (both in quantity and quality) associated with nearby housing initiative|
|Water/soil pollution and human health concerns associated with solid waste generation|
|Adverse health and safety effects associated with the use of harmful or dangerous products (agrochemicals, electronic wastes, machinery lubricants)|
|Adverse effects on human populations affected by an upstream water diversion initiative|
|Adverse effects of natural hazards on a housing initiative|
H) Follow-Up and Monitoring
Follow-up and monitoring activities aim to assess the real effects of an initiative and identify effects that may not have been predicted at the planning stage. Proper follow-up and monitoring also ensure that mitigation measures have been implemented and are effective. If necessary, follow-up and monitoring activities identify additional measures to address previously unforeseen effects.
Environmental follow-up and monitoring are integral to an initiative's overall management and sustainability. These activities also help to identify examples and lessons from the initiative to help improve efficiency and quality, and ensure the sound budget management of future interventions.
This handbook's accompanying document, "Additional Resources", includes tools to assist in conducting environmental follow-up/monitoring activities.
In the environmental assessment report, this section should describe the planned follow-up and monitoring of environmental characteristics.
- Items to be monitored
Potentially significant environmental effects, sensitive components of the environment, and any uncertainties are generally monitored (e.g. water quality, emissions, equipment maintenance, and risks of conflict). Monitoring should also determine whether or not mitigation measures were implemented and effective.
Boyle, J. and Patterson, H. (Agrodev Canada Inc.). (June 2002). Environmental Sourcebook for Small-Scale Community Development Projects. Working Draft Prepared for CIDA, CIDA Internal Document (unpublished).
Government of Canada. Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Assented to on June 23, 1992, and enacted on January 19, 1995 (as well as its regulations and all subsequent modifications).
Kelly, C. (December 2001). Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment: A Framework for Best Practice in Emergency Response. Disaster Management Working Paper 3/2001, Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre. Presented at "Sharing Experiences on Environmental Management in Refugee Situations: A Practitioner's Workshop," Geneva, Switzerland, October 22-25, 2001.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2002). Refugee Operations and Environmental Management. A Handbook of Selected Lessons Learned from the Field. Geneva, Switzerland: UNHCR.
For more information of the CEAA and its regulations, contact:
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Place Bell, 160 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Tel.: (613) 957-0700
Fax: (613) 957-0935
For more information on CIDA's environmental requirements, contact the environmental specialists of CIDA's branches or the following:
Canadian International Development Agency
200 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Other sources of information on participatory approaches
Chambers, R. (October 2002). Rural Appraisal: Rapid, Relaxed and Participatory. Brighton, United Kingdom: Institute of Development Studies, Discussion Paper No. 311.
Dearden, P., Jones, S. and Sartorius, R. (2002). Tools for development: A handbook for those engaged in development activity. London, United Kingdom: Department for International Development (DFID).
Guijt, I. (July 1998). Participatory monitoring and impact assessment of sustainable agriculture initiatives. SARL Discussion Paper No. 1. London, United Kingdom: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
Lammerink, M. and Wolffers, I. (1998). Approches participatives pour un développement durable : exemples d'Afrique, d'Amérique latine et d'Asie. Douala, Cameroon: Institut panafricain pour le développement; Paris, France: Karthala Editions.
Schneider, H. and Libercier, M.-H. (1995). Participatory development: from advocacy to action. Paris, France: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Other sources of information on environmental assessments
Australian International Development Assistance Bureau. Appraisals, Evaluations and Sectoral Studies Branch. (1991). Environmental Assessment Guidelines for International Development Cooperation in the Agriculture Sector. Activity Guideline No. 2. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Canadian International Development Agency. (February 1995). Environmental Assessment at CIDA. Gatineau, Quebec: CIDA.
Canadian International Development Agency. (December 1996). Manual on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: The Canada Fund and Mission-Administered Funds. Gatineau, Quebec: CIDA.
Canadian International Development Agency. (June 2003) CEAA Work Tool v. 2. On-line version and off-line version. Gatineau, Quebec: CIDA.
Canadian International Development Agency. (2003). Desertification: a tool kit for programming. Version 1.0, 2003. Gatineau, Quebec: CIDA.
Cressman, D.R., Zahedi, K. and Pinter, L. (2000). Capacity Building for Integrated Environmental Assessment and Reporting: Training Manual (2nd edition). Winnipeg, Manitoba: International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Dougherty, T.C. and Hall, A.W. (1995). Environmental impact assessment of irrigation and drainage projects. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 53. London, United Kingdom: Overseas Development Administration of the UK (ODA); Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). (1995). Environmental Handbook. Documentation on Monitoring and Evaluating Environmental Impacts. Volume I: Introduction, Cross-sectoral Planning, Infrastructure. Volume II: Agriculture, Mining/Energy, Trade/Industry. Volume III: Compendium of Environmental Standards. Eschborn, Germany: Vieweg.
Kelly, C. (December 2001). Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment: A Framework for Best Practice in Emergency Response. Disaster Management Working Paper 3/2001, Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre. Presented at "Sharing Experiences on Environmental Management in Refugee Situations: A Practitioner's Workshop," Geneva, Switzerland, October 22-25, 2001.
Knausenberger, W.I., Booth, G.A., Bingham, C.S. and Gaudet, J.J. (1996). Environmental Guidelines for Small-Scale Activities in Africa. Environmentally Sound Design for Planning and Implementing Humanitarian and Development Activities. Washington, D.C., U.S.: U.S. Agency for International Development.
Pallen, D. (1996). Environmental Assessment Manual for Community Development Projects. Gatineau, Quebec: CIDA, Asia Branch.
Pallen, D. (1997). Environmental Sourcebook for Micro-finance Institutions. Gatineau, Quebec: CIDA, Asia Branch.
United Nations. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. (1990). Environmental Impact Assessment: Guidelines for Water Resources Development. ESCAP Environment and Development Series. New York, U.S.: United Nations.
World Bank. (1994). Environmental Assessment Sourcebook. Volume III. Guidelines for Environmental Assessment of Energy and Industry Projects. World Bank Technical Paper Number 154. Washington, D.C., U.S.: World Bank.
World Bank. (1995). Environmental Assessment Sourcebook. Volume II. Sectoral Guidelines. World Bank Technical Paper Number 140. Washington, D.C., U.S.: World Bank.
The following index of websites related to environmental assessment has been compiled by CIDA in collaboration with the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA).
Other sources of information on strategic environmental assessments:
CSIR. Division of Water, Environment and Forest Technology. (September 1996). Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). A Primer. Stellenbosch, South Africa: CSIR.
Dalal-Clayton, B. and Sadler, B. (1999). Strategic Environmental Assessment: A Rapidly Evolving Approach. (PDF, 132 KB, 13 pages) Environmental Planning Issues No.18. London, United Kingdom: International Institute for Environment and Development.
do Rosário Partidario, M., reviewed by Leblanc, P. and Fischer, K. (April 1996). Bibliography on Strategic Environmental Assessment. (PDF, 549 KB, 32 pages) Ottawa, Ontario: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.
Government of Canada. (1999, 2004). Strategic Environmental Assessment:The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. Guidelines for Implementing the Cabinet Directive. Ottawa, Ontario: Government of Canada.
Other sources of information on environmental management systems:
North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. (2000). Guidance Document. Improving Environmental Performance and Compliance: 10 Elements of Effective Environmental Management Systems. (PDF, 824 KB, 9 pages) Montreal, Quebec: North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Woodside, G., Yturri, J. and Aurricho, P. (1998). ISO 14001 Implementation Manual. New York, U.S.: McGraw-Hill Books.
- Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry
- The registry was created for the purpose of facilitating public access to records relating to environmental assessments in accordance with the CEAA.
- Cumulative effects
- The CEAA requires the assessment of an initiative's cumulative effects. These are the effects that are likely to result from the initiative in combination with other structures, initiatives, or activities that have been or will be carried out. Examples are the cumulative effects of various water extraction activities that contribute to an inequitable access to potable water, or the cumulative effects caused by increased transport demand and vehicular traffic. To accurately predict the effects of the proposed initiative, other initiatives in the area that may have an effect on the same environmental components must be taken into account.
- The CEAA defines the environment as the "components of the Earth, and includes: (a) land, water, and air, including all layers of the atmosphere; (b) all organic and inorganic matter and living organisms; and (c) the interacting natural systems that include components referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b)".
- Environmental assessment
- CIDA views an environmental assessment as a tool and a process for assessing the environmental effects (biophysical, cultural, and socio-economic; negative and positive) of initiatives, as well as the effect of the environment on such initiatives. It addresses a Canadian legal requirement (the CEAA) and CIDA's Policy for Environmental Sustainability.
- Environmental components
- They are the features of the natural and human environments in the area affected by an initiative. Examples are specific ecosystems, soil, water, air, vegetation, wildlife, a human population and its specific socio-cultural and economic characteristics, use of lands and resources, places of worship, historic sites, meeting places, and so on.
- Environmental effects
- They include effects on both the natural environment and the human environment. Environmental effects are defined in the CEAA as "(a) any change that the project may cause in the environment, including any effect of any such change on health and socio-economic conditions, on physical and cultural heritage, on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes by aboriginal persons, or on any structure, site or thing that is of historical, archaeological, paleontological, or architectural significance; and (b) any change to the project that may be caused by the environment". This includes effects of malfunctions or accidents that may occur in connection with the initiative and the cumulative effects that are likely to result from the initiative in combination with other structures, initiatives, or activities that have been or will be carried out.
- Environmental indicators
- An indicator is a measurement, number, fact, standard, opinion, or perception that helps measure progress toward achieving results. There are both quantitative and qualitative indicators. Each indicator should be directly related to the result being measured, as well as based on readily available data. It is also important to ensure that indicators consider social elements such as gender, social group, and ethnicity. Once indicators are identified, the next step is to determine the sources of information for these indicators and how the information will be collected (including frequency, location, and responsibilities).
- Environmental management system
- An environmental management system is a systematic management tool that provides a framework for practices, procedures, and processes to implement an organization's environmental policy and manage its environmental action plan, as well as document, communicate, and evaluate its environ-mental performance. CIDA strongly encourages organizations that receive program funding from the Canadian Partnership Branch and whose programming has substantial environmental linkages to develop a basic environmental management system (that is, which presents the organization's environmental policy or objectives, implementation strategy / environmental action plan and associated tools) as a means of demonstrating their capacity to meet special environmental requirements. This tool can also be used in dealing with other CIDA branches to demonstrate environmental institutional capacity.
- Mitigation measures
- They are measures that effectively control, eliminate, or significantly reduce an initiative's adverse environmental effects, or enhance its environmental benefits. These measures may include changing the location of an initiative to a more appropriate site; modifying the design, plan, implementation period, and construction techniques; or using environmentally friendly production procedures and techniques or replacement technologies that conserve energy, prevent the emission of pollutants, reduce waste, promote recycling, and so on. Mitigation measures may also include actions to rehabilitate the environment, notably by replacement or restoration (e.g. reforestation). In some cases, financial or material compensation for damages caused may also be considered (e.g. the replacement a house). However, these measures should be used judiciously, when, for example, it is impossible to mitigate an effect but the initiative's benefits are such that these options merit consideration.
- Polluting substance
- A polluting substance is defined by the CEAA as "a substance that, if added to a water body, is likely to degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the physical, chemical, or biological conditions of the water body to an extent that is detrimental to its use by human beings, animals, fish, or plants". Please note that this CEAA definition is linked with specifics of the Exclusion List Regulations; when dealing with environmental matters as a whole, all types of pollution must be taken into account.
- Rapid environmental assessment
- The principal intent of this type of assessment is to address the priority environmental issues associated with a given situation and to avoid negative and irreversible effects. It is inspired by environmental assessments and can be used in "emergency situations". This tool typically involves an emergency context statement (a summary of the emergency situation and highlights of salient environmental factors), a rapid identification of current demands on the environment, a rapid evaluation of factors with an immediate impact on the environment, and the identification of potential negative consequences of possible relief operations (adapted from Kelly, December 2001).
- Residual effects
- They are effects that are expected to result from an initiative, in spite of the mitigation measures that will be implemented. The significance of each of these effects must be determined. The significance of the residual effects is the basis for determining if CIDA funds can be applied to the activity. It is important that these residual effects be monitored.
- Strategic environmental assessment
- This is a tool proposed in line with CIDA's Policy for Environmental Sustainability. Its purpose is to outline the environmental implications of a proposed policy, plan, or program (or initiative that has a number of sub-components) and to demonstrate how environmental considerations are integrated. It also serves to identify opportunities to achieve environmental benefits and positive environmental outcomes. This tool is in line with what was referred to as a "program environmental analysis" in the previous edition of this handbook.
- Water body
- A water body is defined by the CEAA as "including a canal, reservoir, an ocean, and a wetland, up to the high-water mark, but does not include a sewage or waste treatment lagoon or a mine tailings pond". Please note that this CEAA definition is linked with specifics of the Exclusion List Regulations; when dealing with environmental matters as a whole, all types of surface and underground waters must be taken into account.
Exercise: What Is a "Project" Under the CEAA?
When faced with a proposed initiative, two main questions should be asked to help determine whether an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA is required:
- Is the initiative a physical activity in relation to a "physical work"?
- Is the initiative included in the Exclusion List Regulations or is it a response to an emergency situation?
The following examples provide an opportunity to practice identifying the types of initiative that would require the completion of an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA.
Is an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA required for... the construction of a new irrigation structure?
Answer: Yes, since there is a physical work as defined by the CEAA. Furthermore, this physical work would take place in or close to a water body.
Is an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA required for... the implementation of a tree nursery?
Answer: To make a proper determination, we would need to know if the initiative includes the construction of a building and if irrigation structures are planned, in addition to their physical dimensions and other characteristics related to the presence of water bodies.
Is an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA required for... the construction of latrines distributed in different communities?
Answer: The construction of latrines may require the completion of an environmental assessment under the CEAA, depending on the circumstances. Such initiatives often involve the implementation of many latrines, distributed over a large territory. In such cases, rather than undertaking an environmental assessment for each individual construction, a class environmental assessment can be conducted for each eco-region, or region with similar environmental characteristics. Such an assessment presents the accumulated knowledge about the environmental effects of a given type of initiative, and provides insight into the guidelines that will be followed to avoid degradation and nuisances. These guidelines include criteria for site selection, and details on the technical, maintenance, and management aspects. The pertinence of such environmental assessments must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Is an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA required for... the construction of a 2 m high dyke to retain water for agricultural purposes?
Answer: Yes, since there is a physical work as defined by the CEAA. Furthermore, this physical work would take place in or close to a water body.
Is an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA required for... assistance to an agricultural cooperative for the distribution of fertilizers?
Answer: If no physical works are involved, an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA would not be required. Nevertheless, the integration of environmental concerns is important and in line with Global Affairs Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability. An environmental assessment of smaller scope would thus be required.
Is an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA required for... the creation of a microcredit fund?
Answer: Such initiatives are to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Usually, if Global Affairs Canada's funding can be traced directly to the ground level, and if a loan goes toward a specific physical work as defined by the CEAA, then an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA would be required. However, if Global Affairs Canada funds contribute to the microcredit fund, and it is not possible to track Global Affairs Canada funds to a specific activity resulting from a loan during the time frame of the initiative, then an environmental assessment in accordance with the CEAA may not be required.
The environmental resources presented here are intended to be used to help integrate environmental concerns into small-scale community development initiatives funded by Global Affairs Canada. The resources do not provide an exhaustive account of approaches and situations. Rather, each should be adapted to the specific circumstances in which it will be used. This document accompanies the Environment Handbook for Community Development Initiatives (second edition of the Handbook on Environmental Assessment of Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions Programs and Projects, which was originally published in 1997). The References section of the handbook presents the documents consulted in developing the handbook and this accompanying document, and provides other sources of information.
We wish to offer our sincere thanks to all those who have generously provided comments and suggestions to realize this document and the related handbook. Several of the additional resources in this document have been reproduced and adapted from the following voluntary sector organizations: Care Canada, Fondation Crudem, Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Scarboro Foreign Mission Society and War Child Canada.
- Footnote 1
See Section 3.3. An environmental management system is a systematic management tool that provides a framework for practices, procedures, and processes to implement an organization's environmental policy and manage its environmental action plan, as well as to document, communicate, and evaluate its environmental performance. Global Affairs Canada strongly encourages organizations that receive program funding from the Canadian Partnership Branch and whose programming has substantial environmental linkages to develop a basic environmental management system (that is, one that presents the organization's environmental policy or objectives, implementation strategy / environmental action plan, and associated tools) as a means of demonstrating their capacity to meet special environmental requirements. This tool can also be used in dealing with other Global Affairs Canada branches to demonstrate environmental institutional capacity.
- Footnote 2
See Section 3.1. An environmental assessment is a tool and a process for assessing an initiative's environmental effects (biophysical, cultural, and socio-economic; negative and positive), as well as the environment's effect on the initiative. It addresses a Canadian legal requirement (the CEAA) and Global Affairs Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability.
- Footnote 3
A program consists of a series of interconnected activities or sub-components. Generally speaking, a program has a long time frame, a broad scope, and its sub-components may be in various countries or in different regions within a single country.
- Footnote 4
See Section 3.2. A strategic environmental assessment is a tool proposed in line with Global Affairs Canada's Policy for Environmental Sustainability. Its purpose is to outline the environmental implications of a proposed policy, plan, or program (or initiative with a number of sub-components) and to demonstrate how environmental considerations are integrated. It also serves to identify opportunities to achieve environmental benefits and positive environmental outcomes. This tool is in line with what was referred to as a "program environmental analysis" in the previous edition of this handbook.
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