CFES recognizes that ethics and ethical decision-making are essential to the work of all Canada's earth scientists, and it identifies with the emerging topic of Geoethics. To provide context for Geoethics in Canada, where geoscience is a regulated profession, CFES invited two of its observer organizations – Geoscientists Canada and the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (Canadian Chapter) – to collaborate in preparing this helpful summary:
WHAT IS GEOETHICS?
Geoethics is an emerging field of scholarship. It engages with the theme of the relationship of geoscientists to society and the Earth.
Practicing geoscientists in Canada are required by legislation in 11 of 13 provinces and territories to be registered with the professional regulatory body. These professional geoscientists are legally required to abide by the Codes of Ethics of the professional geoscientist regulators with which they are registered. Geoethics supports the professional geoscientist and society by providing a platform for further thought and discussion on matters pertaining to ethics and the practice of geoscience.
Geoscientists Canada www.geoscientistscanada.ca
Canada’s geoscience professionals are governed by the provinces and territories in which they work and provide opinion. Ten regulatory bodies register and regulate the professional practice of more than 14,000 geoscience professionals. Geoscientists Canada is the national organization of nine of the provincial and territorial geoscience regulatory bodies, co-ordinating development of high national standards of admissions, competency, and practice to ensure that Canada is served by a skilled, versatile, reputable and accountable geoscience profession.
Each professional geoscientist in Canada is guided by, and legally obligated to abide by, the Code of Ethics of the jurisdiction(s) in which they are registered.
The International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) www.geoethics.org
IAPG is a multidisciplinary, scientific platform for widening the discussion and creating awareness about problems of Geoethics and Ethics applied to the Geosciences. IAPG is a not-for-profit association with more than 2300 members in 129 countries on 5 continents, and can count on a network of 30 national sections.
IAPG defines Geoethics in its constitution:
"Geoethics consists of the research and reflection on those values upon which to base appropriate behaviours and practices where human activities intersect the Geosphere.”
WHY IS ETHICS IN GEOSCIENCE IMPORTANT TO CANADIANS AND CANADIAN GEOSCIENCE PRACTITIONERS?
Professional Code of Ethics - Duty to the Public
A professional Code of Ethics provides a vision of service to society. It outlines the principles underpinning professional conduct. A Code of Ethics is a tool to distinguish appropriate conduct from that which fails to meet the required standard. The principles should be familiar to all professional geoscience practitioners and should guide daily ethical practice.
The professional geoscientist has a duty to justify the trust they enjoy from the public, clients, and/employers by practising their profession in accordance with ethical standards. This responsibility and accountability is accepted by professionals as part of their obligations to society.
The passing of Bill C-69 will create new legislation to focus the attention of geoscientists on the development of shared policies, guidelines, strategies and tools. Further, through the adoption and implementation of the Canadian Model Science Integrity Policy, the Canadian Federal government is implementing the long-range goal of protecting the integrity of researchers and reaffirming to Canadians the important role that researchers play in our society. The policy pays much attention to ethics and responsible research conduct in the geoscience community of Canada.
Concretely, many in the wider government, academic and industry audience at present are:
aware of local, national, and international drivers building the legislative context for future regulatory requirements.
looking for guidelines, strategies and tools to meet the broader geoethical context of current regulatory requirements.
Impact Assessment Act
Bill C-69 was passed by the Senate on June 21, 2019. The bill enacts the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Bill C-69 supports new processes for assessing the environmental, health, social and economic effects of designated projects with a view to preventing certain adverse effects and fostering sustainability.
The Canadian Model Science Integrity Policy
A model policy created to assist Canadian federal government departments and agencies with making good on the commitments made under the 2016 memorandum of agreement between Treasury Board and Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, and to support them in implementing related guidelines. This policy should be read in consultation with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.
WHERE CAN I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION?
Links to Geoscientists Canada members, the professional geoscientist regulators, are available on the Geoscientists Canada homepage and on the Geoscience in Canada “Regulator Map” page.
The International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) - Geoethics Canada Chapter
Shona V.Z. de Jong (Coordinator, Canadian Geoethics National Chapter)
CFES Blog: How to Support Responsible Mining
hashtagged content: #cndgeoethics
Standing Committee on Pedagogy - Summary Activities
The International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)