N.W.T. environment audit makes 40 recommendations to territory

·2 min read

More than half of the recommendations made in a 2015 environmental audit in the Northwest Territories are either outstanding or have only been partially implemented.

The findings are part of a 2020 audit by an independent group of consultants hired by the territory to look at how well efforts are working to protect the N.W.T.'s environment.

The audits are required to be held once every five years by the Sahtu, Gwich'in and Tłıchǫ land claim agreements and by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.

While the 2020 audit said that no new "significant" issues were identified in the territory, it found there are still gaps in the areas of community well-being, land use planning, finalizing land claims and engaging communities when it comes to the environment.

Read a summary of the 2020 N.W.T. Environmental Audit here

It made 40 new recommendations, including creating a network of long-term water monitoring stations in lakes and rivers, and establishing a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities related to enforcement and compliance of environmental regulations.

Outstanding recommendations

Out of 23 recommendations made in the previous audit, 15 have yet to be fully implemented, something the auditors "strongly" recommend happen.

Those include a call for the territory to develop a clear policy and program to address and communicate its responsibilities for consultation and public engagement.

It also calls on Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to make the development of regulations on consultation a priority to add further clarity and certainty to the regulatory process.

Public focused on climate change

The audit involved a public engagement component, including hosting open-houses and conducting a public survey. Over 40 per cent of respondents selected "regional changes to the environment due to climate change" as the most important area for the government to monitor over the next five years.

While the government of the Northwest Territories has made progress on climate change over the past five years, it's too early to tell how effective the measures are, and it should be the focus of a future audit, according to the document.

For its part, the territory says it will hold an independent review in 2024 of its 2030 climate change framework and action plan.