Skip over navigation
Environmental assessment (EA) is a process to assess and predict the impacts or footprint of a proposed project or activity on the natural environment and human society before the project can be carried out.
The purpose of the EA is to avoid or minimize adverse environmental effects before they occur, and include social and environmental factors into the decision-making process.
Since time immemorial, traditional knowledge (TK) has formed an integral role in how we understand changes to the environment. For First Nation communities, TK continues to serve an important basis in determining the environmental impacts of particular activities, including traditional activities (hunting, fishing, building, etc.).
This section provides an overview of what happens when more than one agency or government requires an environmental assessment (EA). These are called coordinated, joint, cooperative, or harmonized environmental assessments. In this section, we will call them coordinated EAs.
This section also discusses situations where coordinated EAs are conducted between First Nation governments and federal and/or provincial agencies. Strategies for participating in coordinated review processes are discussed.
There are two major report phases in a typical environmental assessment (EA). The first report is usually prepared by consultants hired by the proponent, who then write up their findings in report form. This report will have different names depending on the stage of the EA, the regulatory process, and the legislation guiding the EA.
A development agreement is a written arrangement between a First Nation and a proponent about how a project will be carried out, and how the two parties will relate during the project. Development agreement negotiations may be one aspect of consultation between a First Nation and a proponent during an environmental assessment (EA). They may also take place outside an EA process. From a First Nation’s perspective, a development agreement addresses the impacts of the development on local communities by providing for the sharing of benefits from the project, and protecting or compensating the community for any damages caused by the development. From a developer’s perspective, a development agreement can provide certainty for the development and a social license to proceed.
The Victor Diamond Mine Project was the first development of its kind in the James Bay region. Its presence will have a large impact on the environment of the region and on the lives of the people who live there. The purpose of the environmental assessment was to ensure that the risks of the project would be known and minimized as much as possible.
While there are many risks associated with this project, there is also the opportunity for some benefits to be gained by the communities affected. The Impact Benefit Agreements that were signed between DeBeers and First Nations communities outline those benefits. The IBA between DeBeers and Attawapiskat provides a good example of how these agreements can contain not only economic benefits, but also outline how a community can have greater input into the environmental management of a project.