Tip Sheet on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA): Growth That Works for Everyone
Main recommendations extracted from the SEA of the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) for the Growth that Works for Everyone (GroWE) Action Area
In compliance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, GAC has produced a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of its Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) and its action area policies. The purpose of the SEA is to assess the potential environmental effects, either positive or negative, associated with the FIAP and its action area policies and to incorporate the results in the development of these policies in order to reduce potential adverse environmental effects and enhance environmental and developmental outcomes.
Summary of the Growth that Works for Everyone Action Area priority pathways: Canada will focus its efforts on advancing women’s economic rights and leadership, promoting inclusive markets and entrepreneurship, and promoting financial security and resilience.
What are the environmental sustainability issues and linkages?
Our current pattern of growth has led to growing inequalities, and economic gains came at tremendous environmental costs, starting with alarming rates of natural resources and biodiversity depletion, water contamination and scarcity, unbreathable air in many parts of the world, and worst of all, rapid climate change. Emerging countries are now entering the path of rapid development and following similar wasteful patterns of growth.
Above all issues, human induced climate change is probably the greatest threat to human welfare and health. Driven largely by economic growth and increasingly affluent lifestyles, GHG emissions have risen drastically over the last few decades and are now higher than ever. Therefore, it is crucial to urgently transition to low-carbon economies and adopt economic models that decouple economic growth from the escalating, unsustainable use of natural resources and activities that result in environmental degradation. Critical sectors to address are energy, agriculture, forestry and other land use.
What are the potential environmental effects of the proposed pathways?
There is a broad range of potentially important environmental effects that can result from the GroWE programming. These effects, both positive and negative, will vary considerably depending on the program area and scope, and many other factors such as the country context, the strength of implementing institutions, and the financial mechanisms used. To optimize environmental benefits, funding in this area should promote sustainable pathways of growth and not undermine global climate change and environmental sustainability efforts and commitments.
Overlooking environmental factors in GroWE can not only harm the environment but also be very costly over time in terms of people’s health and well-being, through:
- Depleted natural resources, including minerals, water, forests, fisheries, wildlife.
- Reduced air and water quality, increased water scarcity, increased soil erosion and contamination and reduced soil fertility, increased desertification, loss of biodiversity and negative impacts on natural habitats.
- Loss of access by the poorest, most vulnerable or marginal groups to natural resources.
- Increased energy demands, which require the extraction of more natural resources (e.g. coal, fossil fuels, and rare minerals), processes which themselves also require more resources and create more pollution.
- Exacerbating the impacts of climate change by increasing GHG emissions, destroying carbon stocks, sinks, and natural flood barriers (e.g. coral reefs, mangroves, and forested coastlines), reducing the carbon sequestration capacity of soils, forests, and agricultural lands.
- Increasing waste and contamination from waste.
To mobilise new sources of funding, Canada intends to create new public-private partnerships and innovative finance mechanisms (i.e. blended finance) which will have their own terms and conditions to fulfill. It will be critical to assess the environmental risks associated with any new financing arrangement and ensure that the rules and procedures allow for strong environmental management.
What are the proposed measures to minimise potential adverse environmental effects and increase positive development outcomes?
In line with Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Act, all decisions to support any economic activities should be based on sustainable development principles, namely the ecologically efficient use of natural, social, and economic resources. It should seek to minimize the environmental impacts and maximize the efficient use of natural resources.
Some basic principles that should guide any decision-making include:
- Alignment with the Environment and Climate Change Policy: Promote low-carbon economic development activities and build climate resilience.
- Low environmental footprint and high resource-efficiency: Optimise efficiency and minimise resource use.
- Protection of ecosystems and biodiversity: Protect ecosystems and promote ecologically sensitive approaches
- Good environmental governance: Promote inclusive, transparent and strong governance of environmental resources.
Among principal key actions are to:
- Support economic initiatives that advance Canada’s leadership in supporting developing countries to transition to environmentally sustainable, low-carbon and climate resilient economies.
- Support developing countries’ efforts, especially in Asia, to adopt clean sources of energy and increase energy efficiency.
- Support sustainable agriculture, by helping to improve agricultural methods, systems and value chains to make these environmentally sustainable and climate smart.
- Work with funding and research bodies to prioritize environmentally-responsible approaches to economic and sectoral policies and incentives, especially with respect to energy, natural resources management, agroforestry, and climate finance.
- Promote integrated land use planning, watershed management and disaster risk reduction
- Advocate with IFIs, multilateral institutions, and other economic actors for strong environmental and GHG emissions reduction policies.
- Support efforts to improve environmental and natural resources governance, protect vulnerable ecosystems and related environmental services
- Help advance trade agreement objectives that address trade-related environmental issues in polices, laws and value-chains.
- Support well-managed, green businesses that are efficient in terms of energy, material, and resource use, and have low environmental footprint.
- Promote safe business environments to reduce workers’ exposure to toxic substances, waste and other occupational hazards.
- Carry out strategic environmental assessments of programs posing high environmental risks.
- Help address economic drivers that impede the transition to a clean and low carbon economy.
- Assess the environmental risks of any blended and climate finance arrangement and include measures to avoid negative important environmental effects.
For more information, consult the Public Statement: Strategic Environmental Assessment of Action Areas under Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
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