Public Statement: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Action Areas under Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, Global Affairs Canada has conducted a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy’s six Action Area Policies:
- Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls
- Human Dignity (health and nutrition, education and gender-responsive humanitarian action)
- Growth that Works for Everyone
- Environment and Climate Action
- Inclusive Governance
- Peace and Security
Input from stakeholders
Global Affairs Canada engaged with departmental experts and external partners across Canada and abroad during the development of the Action Area Policies. Stakeholders welcomed Canada’s commitment to combating climate change and stressed the need to pay similar attention to other major environmental concerns such as biodiversity, chemical pollution and artisanal mining, particularly in reference to the Action Area Policy on Environment and Climate Action. During the engagement sessions, several other issues were raised including: illicit financial flows from resource extraction; migration and insecurity triggered by natural disasters and environmental degradation; land and natural-resource tenure rights; human rights issues faced by environmental defenders; and environmental risks associated with public-private partnerships on infrastructure projects.
Participants in the engagement sessions encouraged environmentally-sustainable and climate-smart solutions such as: sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture; actions to build resilience to climate shocks and reduce natural disasters; environmental education to transform behaviors and business practices; support for women and girls as effective environmental stewards, productive contributors and decision-makers in natural-resource management; greater policy coherence between development and trade priorities; and technical assistance to developing countries to increase their capacity to address these issues.
Tip sheets on Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
- Human dignity
- Growth that works for everyone
- Environment and climate action
- Inclusive governance
- Peace and security
Canada’s international assistance will support a broad range of activities that have the potential to impact the environment positively or negatively. Significant positive environmental impacts are anticipated from the implementation of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, in particular from the Environment and Climate Action policy, but also from other Action Area policies.
The Environment and Climate Action policy aims to support developing countries’ efforts to transition to low-carbon, environmentally-sustainable and climate-resilient economies and societies. It will support climate-smart and environmentally-sustainable innovations, practices and clean technologies. This support will help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, improve climate resilience, and protect and sustainably manage natural resources and ecosystems. It will also contribute to improving health and well-being, especially among women, children, and the poorest and most vulnerable.
The Growth that Works for Everyone policy proposes to support sustainable pathways to growth through actions such as promoting low-carbon, green and efficient technologies and energy supplies, sustainable and climate-smart agriculture, and improved management and sustainable use of natural resources.
The Human Dignity policy acknowledges the role education could play in raising environmental awareness and equipping people, especially women and youth, to become environmental stewards and agents of change. It promotes the integration of environmental literacy, technical and vocational skills in green technologies and climate-smart agriculture, and supports environmentally-sound classroom and education facilities. The Health and Nutrition section of the policy integrates actions on water, sanitation and hygiene.
Finally, the Inclusive Governance policy supports actions to: improve transparency, accountability and public financial management; and to increase the participation of marginalized groups, as well as women and youth, in public leadership, decision-making and democratic processes, which may indirectly or directly improve environmental governance.
The SEA report highlights additional opportunities to enhance sustainable-development outcomes with respect to objectives outlined in the Human Dignity, Peace and Security, Inclusive Governance, and Growth that Works for Everyone policies.
At the same time, the SEA recognizes that some activities could have important negative environmental impacts unless appropriate mitigation measures are taken. The greatest potential risk is associated with activities under the Growth that Works for Everyone Action Area, due mostly to large-scale infrastructure and economic activities and policies. These could harm the environment in various ways, such as through the degradation or use of water, land and other natural resources; the release of waste and pollutants in the atmosphere, soil and water; and the loss of biodiversity and habitats. Under the Environment and Climate Action Area, programming may also support large-scale infrastructure and economic activities in areas such as renewable energy, agriculture and forestry.
To avoid or mitigate possible negative environmental impacts and enhance positive outcomes, Global Affairs Canada has in place an environmental assessment and integration process to assess all policy, program and project initiatives and integrate appropriate measures into their design, implementation and monitoring. It is also Global Affairs Canada’s policy to integrate environment and climate change considerations into all international assistance programming.
Canada’s international assistance supports a wide range of programs and activities through a range of partners, including international financial institutions and multilateral organizations that have their own mandates, policies, procedures and decision-making processes. The principal factors that influence the risks associated with Canada’s international assistance are: the strength of partner organizations’ environmental frameworks and capacities; the terms of Canada’s financial arrangements with these organizations; and the capacity of Global Affairs Canada to assess, oversee, influence, and monitor the implementation and environmental-sustainability outcomes of supported programs.
Global Affairs Canada has the opportunity to reinforce its institutional capacity and work with partner organizations to encourage stronger environmental-management systems. Close environmental monitoring and regular evaluation of Global Affairs Canada’s international assistance programs will inform future decisions and enable Global Affairs Canada to take timely corrective measures if necessary.
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