Showcasing Research of Graduate Students: Featuring the Ring of Fire, Wind Energy, & Food Security

June 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm ET

Facilitator: Cole Atlin

Context

The Ontario Association for Impact Assessment (OAIA) seeks to foster innovation in and sharing of best practices in impact assessments. Since 2018, OAIA has been supporting graduate students through a student bursary. This webinar is intended to focus work of recent graduates or current graduate students with a view to informing practitioners of new, emerging and innovative ideas.

Speakers

Brady Reid is working towards a Ph.D. in Rural Studies at the University of Guelph. His research interests include environmental decision-making, rural community development, and collaborative research with Indigenous groups. As a settler scholar with mixed English/Mi’kmaw ancestry, Brady explores the roles and responsibilities of researchers engaging in collaborative research with Indigenous partners – including positionality and reflexivity throughout the research process. He will be presenting on his research entitled, Global crises at the local scale: Contextualizing Impact Assessments in the “Ring of Fire”.

Presentation Overview: Impact assessment planning for mining development in the “Ring of Fire” in the far north of Ontario continues despite calls for moratoriums from Indigenous and civil society groups and an ongoing global pandemic. As part of the third largest wetland complex in the world and home to Indigenous peoples since time immemorial, this region of northern Ontario holds immense ecological and cultural significance. Drawing on existing literature, my presentation highlights ongoing social injustice surrounding anticipated impact assessment activities in the “Ring of Fire” contextualized by the legacy of Treaty No. 9 and current global crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Rhys McMaster is a member of the Siksika Nation and a Master of Science student at the University of Saskatchewan in the Geography and Planning department, as a part of the Community Appropriate Sustainable Energy Security (CASES) Partnership. She received Bachelor of Science, with Honors, in Environmental Earth Science from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She will be presenting her research entitled, Wind energy environmental assessment requirements and processes: an uneven landscape. She wishes to acknowledge her co-authors: Bram Noble, Greg Poelzer, and Kevin Hanna.

Presentation Overview: Environmental assessment is an important entry point to developing renewable energy projects, yet its role in the renewable energy sector remains poorly understood. The assessment requirements for wind energy development specifically are considerably variable across Canada, which creates implications for renewable energy transition – such as potentially the predictability of the assessment and the attractiveness of jurisdictions for developers.

Veronica Rohr recently completed a Master of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in the department of Geography and Planning. She previously graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the same department, having received the University Medal in the Social Sciences for outstanding academic achievement. Her research has been presented at two International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) conferences. Her research interests include food security, social justice, public health, regional planning, and strategic environmental assessment. She will be presenting her research entitled, Food security in Strategic Environmental Assessment in Canada: A conceptual and methodological framework.

Presentation Overview: Today, food security is central to global social policy and sustainable development agendas; yet food security considerations have not yet widely penetrated assessment discourse. This research investigated approaches to food security evaluation in 17 offshore oil and gas exploration projects in Atlantic Canada. The focus was to identify strengths and weaknesses in current practice. The study proceeded in two phases. In phase one, interviews with international food security experts were conducted to identify how food security evaluation can be performed at a regional scale, responsive to the impacts of natural resource developments. In phase two, a document analysis was used to evaluate consideration for Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (RSEA) on food security defined by the procedural and analytical elements identified in the previous phase. The document analysis revealed no direct consideration for food security or health in any of the 17 assessments reviewed. Many of the shortcomings of practice were consistent with the general shortcomings of assessment practice, previously identified in the literature. These include limited consideration for the socio-economic environment in comparison to the biophysical environment, and inadequate public participation measures. Some evidence of indirect consideration for food security was identified in the 17 assessments analyzed. When present, these practices generally aligned with the recommendations for food security evaluation established from the interview data. Thus, the findings suggest a solid foundation to fully incorporate food security in RSEA. The main product of this research is a conceptual and methodological framework to evaluate food security in RSEA, based on the food security expert recommendations.