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NSERCís Guidelines on Environmental Review and Assessment

On the basis of rigorous peer review and in the context of its various programs, NSERC promotes and supports research on the environment and sustainable development.

Where applicable, NSERC must comply with the This link will take you to another Web site Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals.

Where applicable, NSERC must also comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) by ensuring that the research and activities it supports are not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects in areas within federal jurisdiction.

NSERC and CEAA 2012

The CEAA 2012, related regulations and guidelines can be found as follows:

Definitions:

  • A “project” is defined as a physical activity that is carried out on federal lands or outside Canada in relation to a physical work and is not a designated project (This link will take you to another Web site section 66, CEAA 2012).  A “physical work” is generally accepted as being constructed by humans and having a defined area and a fixed locality. A “physical activity” is any activity that involves some degree of physical effort carried out in relation to a physical work.  Examples of projects include the construction, expansion, operation, decommissioning or abandonment of smaller structures such as observation blinds, boardwalks, field camps, and small wind or wave turbines.
  • Designated projects” are defined as one or more physical activities that are carried out anywhere in Canada, including all federal lands; listed in the This link will take you to another Web site Regulations Designating Physical Activities (RDPA) and include the construction, expansion, operation, decommissioning or abandonment of structures such as mines, highways, bridges, airports and nuclear facilities.

Activities funded by NSERC are subject to assessment or review under CEAA 2012 when they are either “designated projects” or “projects” as described above (This link will take you to another Web site sections 67 and 68, CEAA 2012).

In cases where NSERC funding is requested to support a “designated project”, NSERC will require the proponent (applicant) to submit a project description (This link will take you to another Web site Prescribed Information for the Description of a Designated Project Regulations) for the proposal to the CEA Agency, which has the authority to determine whether an Environmental Assessment (EA) is necessary. As appropriate, the CEA Agency will either conduct the assessment itself or refer the proposal to the National Energy Board (NEB) or Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). 

In cases where NSERC funding will be used to support a “project”, NSERC will conduct its own environmental review. 

Administrative Matters

NSERC requires that applicants self-identify on grant applications when a "project" takes place on federal lands or outside of Canada. 

During the course of an award, grant holders must promptly advise NSERC if the nature of the research activities changes substantially, and/or the location where the research will be conducted changes, such that the Act might be applicable.

1. In cases where the proposed activities constitute a “designated project”, NSERC will verify that the applicant has submitted a project description to the CEA Agency for review, in accordance with the This link will take you to another Web site Prescribed Information for the Description of a Designated Project Regulations (CEAA 2012). 

2. In cases where the proposed activities constitute a “project”, NSERC will conduct its own environmental review to determine whether they are likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account This link will take you to another Web site section 5, CEAA 2012.

3. In cases where the proposed activities in an NSERC grant application depend on a “designated project” or “project” funded by another organization, NSERC may make the award conditional on the completion of the environmental assessment or review of the related “designated project” or “project.”

For any of the above situations, funds for successful applications will be released by NSERC only if it is established that the “designated project” or “project” will not likely result in significant adverse environmental effects.  Partial funding may be released, at NSERC’s discretion, for related research activities not requiring an environmental review or assessment.

In addition to the environmental assessments and reviews described above, NSERC requires that the grant holder(s) themselves comply with all applicable legislation and regulations related to the environment in the conduct of their research.  This includes licenses for research in the field, etc. (see the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework for the Responsible Conduct of Research, Section 2.4).

NSERC staff will provide guidance and information to applicants and institutions as needed.

This document will be updated as required. 

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