Environmental Sustainability

FIT is committed to Canada’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy which is aimed at eradicating poverty and peacebuilding through the balance of social, economic and environmentally sustainable development. The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy (FSDS) goals were developed in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and highlight the need to diversify the voices that contribute toward the design and implementation of development solutions. FIT-funded innovations should consider a broad range of partners and contributors including women, marginalized populations, youth, civil society, Indigenous peoples, multilateral and international organizations, the private sector, foundations, governments at all levels, and other relevant stakeholders.

What is Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.  

Innovative solutions can create many opportunities and advantages; however, they can also create challenges and pose new environmental risks such as pollution (air, noise, land, water, waste), land degradation and negative effects on flora and fauna. Additionally, innovative solutions may have negative effects on socio-economic structures including gender roles and responsibilities related to the environment potentially exacerbating existing barriers and/or inequalities.

FIT-funded innovators will assess and monitor their intervention through an environmental sustainability and gender lens, ensuring the integration of a Do No Harm approach, risk mitigation and capitalization of environmental opportunities.  

Do No Harm Approach

The Do No Harm approach ensures that innovation design and testing activities avoid exposing stakeholders and beneficiaries, including those who are most marginalized and particularly women and girls, to additional risk or potential negative social, economic and environmental effects.

A Do No Harm approach incorporates the following elements;

  1. The intervention is based on the needs identified by the beneficiaries and stakeholders it is meant to benefit.   
  2. The voice of and relationship with beneficiaries, including the most marginalized and particularly women and girls, is respected.
  3. The potential negative social, economic and environmental effects of interventions are understood through an intersectional lens and consider the various identities that people hold and the ways in which those identities create barriers or opportunities.

Environmental Considerations

Taking on a broader intersectional socio-economic and environmental view allows you to identify the full impact that your testing activities and outcomes have. Below are some environmental and social considerations to ask during the design and testing of your innovative solution.


Environmental Impact

  • What is the ecology of the locality in which you are testing the innovation?
  • How will the testing activities impact the natural environment?
  • What is the positive or negative impact on nearby communities or natural environments?
  • Is the locality experiencing a loss in biodiversity?
  • Do your activities or outcomes contribute to the loss, increase or maintenance of biodiversity?


Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

  • How is climate change affecting the locality (environmental and social)?
  • What types of mitigation and adaptation measures are already being practiced?
  • Are there any opportunities to incorporate climate change adaptation or mitigation outcomes into your testing design?
  • Has your project considered its own carbon footprint?


Social Impact

  • What is the relationship that women, men, boys and girls have with the natural environment?
  • What is the relationship that marginalized groups have with the environment?
  • What are the power dynamics between women and men when it comes to managing the natural environment?
  • What is the impact of testing activities or outcomes on future generations?


Value of life

Every living being deserves a life free from torture and cruel treatment. Utilizing animals for economic purposes should uphold these values.

  • Do the innovation activities or outcomes have an impact on the survival rates of livestock?
  • What is the care of life requirements for the livestock?
  • Do beneficiaries have sufficient food, water and space for the livestock?
  • Medium and long term, are their risks associated with climate change and the ability of people to care for livestock?
  • Are there any requirements related to hygiene management?

Environmental Integration into Innovation Testing

As part of the FIT Proposal Application process, FIT has integrated the Global Affairs Canada Environmental Integration Process (EIP) to evaluate the environmental risks associated with each proposed innovative solution and identifies whether an Environmental Assessment and resulting Environmental Management Plan would be required.

An Environmental Assessment is used to assess the impact of your testing activities and results on the natural and social environment and is used to develop an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). An EMP highlights any Canadian or host country policy, legal and administrative requirements, identifies the potential negative or positive environmental effects of activities and innovation results, proposes measures to mitigate negative environmental effects, and assigns responsibility within the team. An Environmental Assessment should be conducted as part of your baseline, in collaboration with the local community and through a gender lens.

By considering environmental effects and mitigation measures early in the testing process, an Environmental Assessment can support better decision making and result in many benefits, such as:

  • Avoidance or minimization of adverse environmental effects.
  • Opportunities for diverse participation of stakeholders and beneficiaries.
  • Increased protection of human and animal health.
  • Reduced testing costs and delays.
  • Lessened probability of transboundary environmental effects.
  • Informed decisions that contribute to responsible development of natural resources.

For further reading:

  1. Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)
  2. Global Affairs Canada “Official Development Assistance Accountability Act – Consistency with International Human Rights Standards”.
  3. Humanity and Inclusion “Incorporating the principle of “Do No Harm”: How to Take Action Without Causing Harm Reflections on a Review of Humanity & Inclusion’s Practices
  4. GAC Environmental Handbook for Community Development Initiatives
  5. UNDP Gender and the Environment

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

 — Albert Einstein