Impact Assessment Agency of Canada Research Program
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The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency) has updated its research program. The aim is to support the new impact assessment system by providing research and evidence related to the field of impact assessment. Research will now take place using a more multidisciplinary approach.
The objectives of the research program are to:
- Create and support research for high-quality assessments. This includes assessments used for
- project-level assessments
- regional assessments
- strategic assessments
- Expand the research community focused on impact assessments. Bring many subject matter experts together, like those who study
- health, social, economic, and environmental impacts
- engagement with Indigenous peoples
- public participation
- gender-based analysis and diversity
- Share information with all groups who can benefit from recent research. This includes
- members of the Agency and other federal departments
- external organizations and partners
- members of the public
The Agency has a three-pronged strategy to advance these objectives:
- Forge partnerships (e.g., with institutions, organizations, governments, other federal departments, etc.)
- Fund research on targeted topics
- Disseminate knowledge
Initiatives Informing Best Practices in Environmental and Impact Assessments
Knowledge Synthesis Grants – Informing Best Practices in Environmental and Impact Assessments
The Agency and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) launched a dedicated Knowledge Synthesis Grants (KSG) competition in Spring 2019, to stimulate social sciences and humanities research to help inform best practices related to environmental and impact assessments.
Following a competitive funding process, 13 KSG projects were funded in September 2019. These were worth approximately $30,000 each. Grants were given to researchers from different Canadian universities and their partners (e.g. not-for-profit organizations). The grants supported projects that synthesized existing research on a wide range of connected themes. The main themes were:
- Socio-economic effects
- Gender-based analysis plus
- Indigenous partnerships and engagement
- Public participation and transparency
- Regional and strategic assessment
To learn more, please visit SSHRC’s Knowledge Synthesis Grants program.
Below are the evidence briefs for 13 research papers funded through the partnership. Evidence briefs are summarized versions of the research contained within the papers themselves.
- More promise than practice: GBA+, intersectionality and impact assessment
- Determining "the public interest": use of the public interest test for infrastructure decisions in Canada
- Lessons learned, best practices and critical gaps in regional environmental assessment: a synthesis of Canadian and international literature
- Impact assessment and responsible business guidance tools in the extractive sector: implications for human rights, gender and stakeholder engagement
- Integrating socio-economic objectives for mine closure into impact assessment in Canada
- Scoping Population Health in Impact Assessment (ScopHIA) Realist Review: Identifying Best Practices for Equity in Scoping of Major Natural Resource and Large-Scale Infrastructure Projects
- Implementing a regional, Indigenous-led and sustainability-informed impact assessment in Ontario’s Ring of Fire
- Beyond participation and distribution: advancing a comprehensive justice framework for impact assessment
- Building the system: follow-up, monitoring and adaptive management
- Synthesis at the nexus of sustainability assessment, regional/strategic assessment and Indigenous partnerships
- Evaluating methods for analyzing economic impacts in environmental assessments
- Gender-based analysis plus: implementing and developing a socially responsible impact assessment process in Canada
- Unlocking the promise of "integrated" regional and strategic environmental assessments
Partnership Development Grants – Advancing Impact Assessment for Canada’s Socio-Ecological Systems
The Agency is working with universities on a research initiative. It is called Advancing Impact Assessment for Canada’s Socio-Ecological Systems. For this, we have partnered with Dr. Debra Davidson, University of Alberta and Dr. Ian Stewart, University of King’s College.
This initiative will:
- foster interest within Canada's social sciences and humanities scholars to consider impact assessment by encouraging a Network of Expertise and Dialogue on Impact Assessment;
- review the field of impact assessment (IA) in Canada through multi-disciplinary analysis of case studies of past IAs;
- create space for reflection on contemporary challenges and opportunities for IA in Canada through interactive webinars;
- highlight contributions of Canadian scholars and practitioners to academic and grey literature on IA;
- grow the impact assessment research community to include a broad range of social sciences and humanities scholars in particular; and
- enable collaboration across disciplines and foster dialogue more broadly across academic/non-academic, public and private sectors.
The goal is to bridge the fields of natural science and engineering with the social sciences and humanities. Achieving these objectives would allow for more complete analyses of effects. This initiative was co-funded by the Agency and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) through SSHRC’s Partnership Development Grants.
Targeted research involves small-scale research projects and workshops. These projects and workshops often address the Agency’s immediate policy or operational needs.
Each year, the Agency allocates funds for these research or workshop projects. This helps us amplify our work with partners—other institutions, impact assessment researchers and experts.
In 2022-2023, the Agency funded the following research projects and activities:
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Best Practices for Major Projects: The Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Oil Industry [PDF - 496 kB]
- Mitigation and Enhancement Measures for Health, Social & Economic Effects [PDF - 2,046 kB]
- Assessing Biodiversity under the Impact Assessment Act [PDF - 1,615 kB]
In 2021-2022, the Agency funded the following research projects and activities:
- Public Interest Determinations in Impact Assessment: A Multiple Account Evaluation Framework [PDF - 807 kB]
- Artificial Intelligence: Advancing Environmental Compliance, Enforcement & Follow-Up Programs [PDF - 914 kB]
- Strong Engagement, Strong Outcomes: An Engagement Indicators Playbook [PDF - 3,219 kB]
- Knowledge, Perception and Application of the Mitigation Hierarchy Among Officials in Canadian Federal Regulatory and Resource Management Agencies [PDF - 1,026 kB]
In 2020-2021, the Agency funded the following research projects and activities:
- More than Mental Health [PDF - 768 kB]
- Indigenous Mental Wellness and Major Project Development: Guidance for Impact Assessment Professionals and Indigenous Communities. Firelight Research Inc. [PDF - 2,435 kB]
- Improving the Consideration of Health, Social and Economic Values in Cumulative Effects Assessment in Canada [PDF - 12 MB]
- Integrating Health Impact Assessment into the Wider Impact Assessment Process [PDF - 713 kB]
- Assessment of the Mental Health Impacts Associated with Environmental Change [PDF - 684 kB]
- Towards Ethical Research in Health Impact Assessment [PDF - 578 kB]
- Review of the Assessment of Positive Effects [PDF - 946 kB]
In 2019-2020, the Agency funded the following research projects and workshops:
- Indigenous Women and Impact Assessment. The Native Women's Association of Canada. [PDF - 6,840 kB]
- Case Studies of Indigenous Knowledge and Science in Impact Assessments. Two Worlds Consulting. [PDF - 1,913 kB]
- Workshop on Strategic Assessment under the Impact Assessment Act. Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. [PDF - 342 kB]
- Best Brains Exchange Report Mental Health Outcomes and Impact Assessment. The Science, Knowledge Translation & Ethics Branch, Canadian Institutes of Health Research in collaboration with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. [PDF - 743 kB]
- Follow-up and Monitoring in Impact Assessment Synthesis of Knowledge and Practice. Bram F. Noble. [PDF - 2,105 kB]
- GBA+ Preparedness in the Canadian Mining Sector: A Baseline Study. Oxfam Canada. [PDF - 530 kB]
- Methodologies for Social Life-Cycle Assessment under the Impact Assessment Act. Catherine Benoit Norris, New Earth. [PDF - 1,735 kB]
In 2018-2019, the Agency funded the following research activities:
- Gender and Diversity Analysis in Impact Assessment. Heidi Walker, Maureen G. Reed, and Bethany Thiessen. [PDF - 1,032 kB]
- Strengthening Impact Assessments for Indigenous Women. Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. [PDF - 1,562 kB]
- Expert Roundtable on Gender-based Analysis Plus in Impact Assessment. Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. [PDF - 661 kB]
- Assessments of Social Impacts in Environmental Assessment Processes Applicable to Nunavik. Secrétariat international francophone pour l’évaluation environnementale (SIFÉE). [PDF - 880 kB]
- Good Practices in Social Impact Assessment. Golder Associates Ltd. [PDF - 1,552 kB]
Supplemental Funding – Research in the Field of Impact Assessment
The Agency entered into a partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in October 2021. Through this partnership, the Agency can provide funding to recipients of NSERC scholarships who are undertaking research related to the field of impact assessment.
This aims to support the new impact assessment system by providing research and evidence related to the field of impact assessment, forge partnerships, and disseminate knowledge.
The funding is supplemental, as it can be provided to successful existing NSERC award holders at the post-graduate (i.e., masters or doctoral students) and/or post-doctoral (i.e., award holders with a doctorate) levels.
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