NGOs welcome changes to policies at Export Development Canada - Implementation still a concern
Tuesday, November 8, 2005 (Ottawa) - A coalition of 23 non-governmental organizations today welcomed the changes Export Development Canada made to its revised policies for taking account of the environment and disclosing information to the public. Five years ago the Halifax Initiative Coalition exposed countless environmentally devastating projects being financed by the Crown Corporation. At that time, EDC had no environmental policies in place.
"EDC has taken some positive steps forward in terms of transparency and addressing the environment over the past six years," said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, a member of the Halifax Initiative, "and they should be congratulated for those changes."
Since May 2002, EDC has had in place a process for screening projects for potential adverse environmental impacts, and reviewing these impacts. The new revisions build on the existing policy. EDC will now screen all sensitive projects regardless of their size, it will take account of the environmental agreements signed by the Canadian government in conducting its review, and will disclose the type of international standards applied to specific projects that have been improved. Most notably, EDC now requires the public disclosure of environmental impact assessments for the projects it is considering funding thirty days prior to a Board decision, a shortcoming which has long frustrated groups.
"We now have to hope that these improved policies will actually translate into better, more environmentally sound projects," added Fraser Reilly-King of the Halifax Initiative. "And this is going to be a challenge in such a unique area as New Caledonia."
Mr. Reilly-King was referring to Falconbridge's proposed Koniambo nickel mine and smelter in New Caledonia, recently disclosed on EDC's web site. The South Pacific island territory of New Caledonia is recognized globally for its biodiversity and its high number of species that are unique to the unusual and highly sensitive ecosystem of these islands. Inco's Goro nickel mine in the South has been hotly contested since the outset.
"Needless to say, the proof will be in the pudding," added Ms. Coumans.
Export Development Canada released its revised policies on November 7.
For further information, contact:
Fraser Reilly-King, Halifax Initiative Coalition, (613) 789-4447
Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439