Weighing Benefits and Risks

Linkages with Environmental and Social Impact Assessments

The Issue

There is limited guidance on how BA negotiations, implementation, and monitoring should work with and complement Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes. These parallel, but separate opportunities and processes, are complex and will be different for each project and context, making it difficult for First Nations to know how to divide resources and effort between them to maximum benefits and mitigate impacts.

EIA is a process of identifying, predicting, evaluating, and ultimately mitigating likely impacts of a proposed project. While it has been focused on biophysical impacts, the scope of EIA now often requires assessment of social, economic, health, and cultural impacts.

The timing of BA negotiations relative to EIAs as well as the ability of each to address the concerns of Indigenous communities depends on the project, the context and the IA process in the jurisdiction.

The EIA process can support BA negotiations by initiating discussions and including recommendations for improved benefit allocation to Indigenous communities (Hitch and Fidler 2007, McCreary et al., 2016, Gibson and O’Faircheallaigh 2015). In other cases, BAs signed prior to IAs or other regulatory processes have been used to negotiate consent for the project (Hitch and Fidler 2007, McCreary et al., 2016).

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