UBC Theses and Dissertations
Gaps in marine baseline data and the role of Inuit knowledge in the Nunavut impact assessment process Peletz-Bohbot, Nicole
This research helps support the impact assessment (IA) process in Nunavut through an improved understanding of marine baseline information needs and the important role of Inuit Knowledge in project review. The Canadian Arctic is experiencing unprecedented environmental and social-economic change. IA, as a process and tool, is in a key position to assess and mitigate potential impacts of resource development and other activities and aid planning in a rapidly changing Arctic. However, the effectiveness of IA in Arctic jurisdictions has been questioned, and many challenges have been identified including broad gaps in baseline data, notably related to marine environments. Agencies responsible for IA, such as the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB), may employ adaptive approaches where local and Inuit Knowledge is used to address information needs, and broadly support and shape the assessment process. This research was developed and undertaken in collaboration with the NIRB. Through a document analysis of completed NIRB IA reviews, and focus groups with NIRB staff and board members, this research sought to, 1) identify and acknowledge gaps in marine baseline data and associated challenges, 2) understand the role of Inuit Knowledge alongside and in absence of western science in marine baseline data collection and understanding, and 3) assess long-term options and outline opportunities to address information needs. The results highlight that better marine information is needed across Nunavut, and associated challenges are complex and interconnected. However, through the unique composition and functions of the NIRB, and the integration of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit / Qaujimaningit (IQ) and local knowledge, IA in Nunavut is in a valuable position to address baseline information needs and further challenges, as well as act as a potential model towards Indigenous-led IA in other settings. The recommendations outline the need to address barriers and promote enablers to addressing information needs. Barriers include uncertainty regarding responsibilities, broad capacity constraints, and coordination of monitoring programs, while enablers focus on the continued and improved engagement of knowledge-holders and resource-users in the process, as well as the promotion of IQ values among all stakeholders and within the process.
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International