In early March 2020 CEAR graduate student Jeff Nishima-Miller and I were in Cambridge Bay Nunavut to meet with colleagues at the Nunavut Impact Review Board. The day after we returned to BC our university moved to online teaching. We were told to work from home. There was no indication of when there would be a return to campus, or when work would return to normal. The reality of the COVID 19 pandemic had set in, and along with it came a very challenging 2 years. Although some of our fieldwork did go forward, albeit under very different circumstances than normal, we have also discovered new ways of meeting and collaborating. Efficiencies have been achieved, and we are now gauging how the lessons of the last year can be used to improve and advance our work for the years to come.
The practice of environmental assessment (EA) has also been shaped by COVID 19 demands. We have seen many activities move into online formats. Agencies, governments, proponents, and civil society involved in assessments have adjusted their work to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. But throughout this time EA processes continued to review projects, deliver information to decision makers, and provide essential engagement and participation opportunities.
EA practice requires creativity, broad-mindedness, and a readiness to adapt to new and different forms of knowledge, changing social and economic conditions, and rapid shifts in technology. Effective EA requires more than a strong technical foundation. It means the ability to cooperate and work within interdisciplinary settings. These last 2 years have also demonstrated that best practice always includes the ability to anticipate, innovate, and be flexible.
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With best regards,
Kevin Hanna PhD, CEAR Director