Thierry Rodon & Aude Therrien

The Canadian Arctic is seen as a resource-rich territory and attracts many developers however, at the institutional level, it is a very complex region. Arctic Canada is formally under the jurisdiction of the federal government, yet a devolution process initiated in the sixties has led to the creation of responsible territories in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and ultimately the Nunavut Territory in 1999. At first this devolution didn't include the management of natural resources, but recently the Yukon (2003) and the Northwest Territories (2014) have signed a natural resources devolution agreement with the federal government and Nunavut is negotiating a similar agreement. Furthermore, all of the Canadian Arctic territories have a significant indigenous population which has attained constitutional recognition through multiple court decisions, leading to the conclusion of land claims settlements. These agreements involve the creation of regional or local governments and various boards and organizations tasked with such responsibilities as making recommendations on natural resource management, and environmental and social assessments of resource development. In addition, all recent land claims settlements require developers to sign Impact and Benefit Agreements with local or regional Indigenous organizations.

This has led to complex governance arrangements that offer a good example of vertical and horizontal multilevel governance but that are often denounced by developers and some federal policy-makers as a balkanization of decision-making. This paper will map the formal and informal powers and the interaction of the different regulatory institutions from the local to the federal level. The authors will then analyse the federal effort to streamline environmental governance through the Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes and assess how it impacts the MLG scene in the Canadian Arctic.

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