Six Month Update on AEMERA

Officially established on April 28, 2014, AEMERA recently celebrated its six-month anniversary as an arm’s length provincial agency responsible for the objective monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the conditions of Alberta’s environment.

“Much has been done over the past six months towards establishing AEMERA, however there is still much to do before we are fully operational and fulfilling the mandate set out by the province and Albertans,” said Dr. Lorne Taylor, Chair of AEMERA’s Board of Directors. “The Board of Directors is very committed to working with staff, stakeholders and communities across the province to create an organization that is globally recognized as the trusted

Early Milestones

The initial milestones and accomplishments in the establishment of AEMERA include:

  • Appointment of Board of Directors (April 2014)
  • aemera.org brand, new corporate identity, website (May 2014)
  • Mandate and Roles Document with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (July 2014)
  • Board selection and appointment of CEO (October 2014)
  • Work plan for year three of three-year commitment for Joint Canada Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) (June 2014)
  • 2013-2014 Annual Report on JOSM (October 2014)

Current Status

With the formal appointment of a Board of Directors, and the proclamation of the Protecting Alberta’s Environment Act on April 28, 2014, the Government of Alberta formally established the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency (AEMERA) as an arm’s length organization responsible for providing credible, scientific data and relevant information on the conditions of Alberta’s environment.

AEMERA is in a start-up phase as an organization. With the target of becoming fully operational in 2015, AEMERA’s Board of Directors and leaders are committed to building an organization that provides accurate, objective scientific data and relevant, valuable information to better inform environmental decision-making by a broad base of stakeholders.

As of October 1, 2014, the Board appointed Jay Nagendran as its CEO, replacing Brad Pickering, who left the position as the interim CEO of AEMERA to become Deputy Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs. The Board is initiating an open recruitment process to hire a permanent CEO for the agency.

Current Activities

AEMERA’s current activities include:

  • Managing all key, ambient monitoring (previously done by the Government of Alberta).
  • Serving as the provincial lead on Joint Oil Sands Monitoring project with the Government of Canada.
  • Conducting a series of meetings and forums with aboriginal groups and organizations to seek input on how best to incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into its monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities, and to how best to establish and work with a TEK Advisory Panel.
  • Developing an initial on-line environmental reporting and information system that will provide searchable data from a variety of sources either regionally or by category (i.e. air, land, water, biodiversity).
  • Organizing a multi-stakeholder forum to report back on the status of monitoring in the oil sands region. (November 2014)
  • Conducting a global search for its Science Advisory Panel.
  • Preparing an independent annual environmental report for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan.
  • Meeting with all key environmental groups, agencies and organizations involved in monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities in Alberta to identify the current activities, establish future working relationships, and consolidate reporting standards and activities.
  • Meeting with a broad base of stakeholders to determine their data and information needs to help best shape AEMERA’s priorities, programs and systems moving forward.
  • Working with the Alberta Airsheds Council (AAC) to establish a formal working relationship that will enhance the coordination and scope of air monitoring in Alberta.
  • In active discussions with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) on how best to incorporate their database, science, expertise and other programs into AEMERA’s monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities.
  • Establishing operations and administrative systems to support AEMERA as an arm’s length agency.
  • AEMERA also plays an integral role – along with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD), Alberta Energy, Alberta Aboriginal Relations and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) – in managing and ensuring a coordinated and effective Integrated Resource Management System (IRMS) on behalf of all Albertans. The role of AEMERA within the system is to provide proactive, objective reporting of scientific data and information on the condition of Alberta’s environment, including:
    • Baseline environmental monitoring
    • Cumulative effects monitoring
    • Data evaluation and management
    • On-going condition of environment reporting in all regions of Alberta
    • Credible data, evaluation, knowledge and reporting to inform policy and regulatory decision-making

The Road Ahead

Moving towards its goal to become fully operational in 2015, key activities for AEMERA in the coming months include:

  • Complete transition of environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting functions and resources from ESRD to AEMERA (early 2015)
  • Completion of Strategic Plan (December 2014)
  • Completion of 2014-2015 Business Plan (December 2014)
  • Finalize Budget for 2014-2015 (December 2014)
  • Appointment of Science Advisory Panel (December 2014)
  • Recruitment and hiring of Chief Scientist (December 2014/January 2015)
  • Recruitment process for hiring of permanent CEO (2015)
  • Recruitment and hiring of senior executive team (early 2015)
  • Hiring of permanent staff for AEMERA (early 2015)
  • Securing office space for AEMERA (early 2015)
  • Confirming a new agreement with the Government of Canada on oil sands monitoring to build on the legacy of JOSM (by March 2015)
  • Research, plan and begin development of an interactive, leading edge digital business presence for environment monitoring, evaluation and reporting in Alberta (2015)
  • Developing a sustainable funding model for AEMERA (2015)
  • Meetings with stakeholders to continue to build relationships and better identify what kind of environmental data and information is needed (on-going)
  • Participating in science forums, professional conferences and speaking opportunities with stakeholders to raise awareness of AEMERA and its activities (on-going)
  • Organize an annual environmental science and information forum (Fall 2015)

AEMERA Six Month Report (November 2014)

AEMERA Six Month Presentation to Stakeholders (November 6, 2014)