Archived: Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy 2014-15, Environment and Climate Change Canada, chapter 3

Section 3. Strategic Environmental Assessments

To ensure that environmental considerations receive an appropriate level of attention in decision making, the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (the Cabinet Directive) directs all government departments and agencies regarding their obligations in conducting strategic environmental assessments (SEA). As set out in the Cabinet Directive, ministers expect that a SEA will be conducted for policy, plan or program proposals when the following two conditions are met:

  • the policy, plan or program proposal is submitted to Cabinet or to an individual minister for approval; and
  • the implementation of the proposal may result in important environmental effects, either positive or negative.

The Cabinet Directive requires the consideration of the scope and nature of any likely positive or negative environmental impacts generated by these proposals, as well as the need for mitigation to reduce or eliminate adverse effects, and the likely importance of any adverse environmental effects, taking mitigation into account. The Guidelines for Implementing the Cabinet Directive require that departments and agencies consider FSDS goals and targets when undertaking SEAs.

Environment Canada ensures that it continues to comply with the Cabinet Directive and develops quality SEAs that consider potential effects on the FSDS goals and targets. A departmental policy on SEA establishes the core elements of a well-functioning SEA management system (e.g., clear accountabilities and procedures, updated guidance materials and a comprehensive SEA tracking system).

Environment Canada will continue to implement its SEA policy and further strengthen its SEA performance by ensuring that

  • high-quality SEAs are completed for policy, plan and program proposals as required by the Cabinet Directive;
  • SEAs include a detailed analysis of the potential effects of proposals on the achievement of the FSDS goals and targets;
  • SEAs include measures to mitigate negative environmental effects and enhance positive environmental effects (including effects on the FSDS goals and targets);
  • public statements are issued when SEAs have been formally approved or announced; and
  • departmental support is provided for requests from other departments and agencies for expert policy, technical and scientific analysis on sustainable development, and the potential environmental effects of initiatives.

Environment Canada’s 2014-2015 Departmental Performance Report will include a description of how policies, plans and programs subject to SEAs have affected or are expected to affect progress towards the FSDS goals and targets.

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