More Promise than Practice: GBA+, Intersectionality and Impact Assessment

Background: The Issue 
Canada’s new Impact Assessment Act (2019) requires attention to “the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors” as a mandatory factor for consideration in impact assessments. Other promising provisions of the Act include commitments respecting Indigenous knowledges, and a new planning phase that seeks broader preliminary input into proposed resource development and extraction projects. Despite these promising developments, there is little implementation-related guidance. In Canada, there is limited documentation of promising practices related to undertaking gendered and intersectional impact assessments that attend to the experiences of invisible community members.


This knowledge synthesis project extends our knowledge about promising practices in intersectional impact assessments by turning to international literature and examples. We are interested in how to better understand and respond to the experiences of Indigenous women and Two-Spirit persons, youth, and people with disabilities in resource development and extraction contexts. Guided by an Advisory Circle of knowledge experts and users1, the specific objectives of this research are to:

  • identify and critically assess existing international practices in impact assessments;
  • dentify knowledge gaps and promising practices and proposals in these areas; and
  • share research findings through social media, knowledge mobilization fora, websites, academic publications, and Advisory Circle networks.

Key Messages

  1. There are significant research gaps on impacts experienced by, and strategies for including, historically excluded groups in general, and people with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ folks and youth in particular.
  2. There are few examples of intersectional analysis in impact assessment at any stage. Siloed responses and discussions are less helpful in capturing the experiences of historically excluded groups who can experience impacts as a result of multiple and intersecting oppressions.
  3. Community consultations need to be both culturally relevant and culturally humble.
  4. Intersectional analysis can start with a gendered lens but needs to move beyond that to represent the diversity of the community.
  5. To create a context in which intersectional impact assessments are possible, international human rights commitments need to be implemented meaningfully through domestic laws, regulations, policies and practices.
  6. Civil society and community-led assessment processes are essential components of any impact assessment.
  7. Adequate and sufficient funding is needed for community impact assessment and capacity building. Sufficient time is also needed for consultation and public engagement to allow for multiple conversations across and within communities.


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