It is not new for Alberta to consider cumulative effects when managing the environment. What is new is the formal merging of the methods, science and technology into a coordinated, integrated and legislated system – now well underway in Alberta.
The new cumulative effects management approach allows various stakeholders within the region to work together and agree on environmental outcomes. These outcomes will be set with full consideration of the social, economic and environmental implications. Under the cumulative effects management approach, the responsibility of meeting those standards is shared fairly among all stakeholders – municipalities, provincial government, regional organizations and industry. For industry, this means that, in addition to approvals, other non-regulatory and policy tools, including economic incentives, education and voluntary action will be utilized to achieve environmental outcomes.
Existing environmental regulations will remain in place under the new system and individual companies will still need to know and be held accountable to enforceable requirements. But the present environmental management system will now include cumulative effects management as part of regular business, which means that new approvals for the region will be considered within the context of the current and future impacts on the region.
Cumulative effects management is not only about managing for today, but managing for our future generations and ensuring that they have a healthy, sustainable economic and environmental landscape in which to live, work and play.