Strategic Environmental Assessment

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) involves reviewing policy, plan and program proposals to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies and strategic decisions.

The Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals and Guidelines for Implementing the Cabinet Directive require departments to conduct a SEA of a policy, plan or program proposal to identify potential environmental impacts and propose mitigation measures when:

  • Ministerial or Cabinet approval is required; and
  • Important, positive or negative, environmental effects may result.

The first step in the SEA process is an initial review to determine whether there is any potential for environmental effects associated with the proposal. If warranted, a Preliminary Scan is conducted to determine whether important environmental effects would result from implementation of the proposal. At the same time, potential project-level assessment requirements, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, are identified. If the scan determines that there are no important environmental effects, the decision is documented and the SEA process is considered complete.

If the scan determines that there is potential for important environmental effects, or if there is a high level of uncertainty or risk associated with the outcome, then more detailed analysis of the environmental effects is conducted through a SEA. Preliminary Scans and SEAs are typically drafted by the Team Lead using Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Guide on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals - Strategic Environmental Assessments with guidance from AAFC’s SEA Coordinator.

Public statements

The Guidelines for implementing the Cabinet Directive require departments to prepare a public statement of environmental effects when a SEA has been conducted.