Arctic Regional Environmental Studies
The Government of Canada is committed to the protection of the Arctic environment and to the sustainable and inclusive development of the Arctic region, informed by science and traditional knowledge, for the benefit of Northern residents and all Canadians.
Through funding commitments announced in Budget 2016, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) launched the five year (2016-2021) Arctic Regional Environmental Studies (ARES) initiative. The goal of ARES is to examine the potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of future offshore oil and gas activity in the Western Arctic (i.e. the Canadian Beaufort Sea Inuvialuit Settlement Region), Eastern Arctic (i.e. Baffin Bay and Davis Strait), and Central Arctic (i.e. the Kivalliq, Kitikmeot, and Arctic Islands of Nunavut regions of Canada).
ARES will provide relevant information to the Government of Canada as it considers future offshore oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. ARES is at the core of the science-based approach to oil and gas outlined in the United States-Canada Joint Arctic Leaders' Statement (December 2016).
Offshore oil and gas resource development and conservation options will be investigated by undertaking strategic environmental assessments in both the Western and Eastern Arctic regions. In the Central Arctic, early engagement on resource and conservation considerations will begin.
- Beaufort Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment
- Strategic Environmental Assessment in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait
- Central Arctic engagement
1. Beaufort Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment
The Beaufort Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (BRSEA) was launched in 2016. The BRSEA will provide strategic direction and analysis of environmental considerations on future offshore oil and gas activity in the Beaufort Sea, Inuvialuit Settlement Region. The BRSEA:
- examines the effects of forecasted development and conservation scenarios,
- sets desired environmental outcomes and thresholds,
- addresses regional policy and regulatory issues
- takes into account changes in the environment.
The BRSEA is being developed and led in partnership between the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Inuvialuit Game Council, and INAC.
For more information, including public records and notices pertaining to the BRSEA, consult the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation’s Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment website.
2. Strategic Environmental Assessment in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait
The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in Baffin Bay and Davis Strait examines both the risks and benefits of the full life cycle of oil and gas activities. The assessment relies on traditional and scientific knowledge to consider potential interactions between oil and gas activity and the natural and social environment in the region. The assessment will consider other current and future activities in the region, including, but not limited to:
- traditional and modern community subsistence activities
- commercial fisheries
- the creation of conservation areas
INAC referred the SEA to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) pursuant to section 12.2.4 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (PDF Version (1.12 Mb, 292 pages)). The NIRB will be responsible for coordinating the SEA, including considering previously collected information and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (traditional Inuit knowledge), facilitating public engagement and submitting a final report to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
For public records and notices pertaining to the SEA, please refer to the NIRB Public Registry.
3. Central Arctic engagement
Future engagement activities in the Central Arctic will identify key interests and concerns of Inuit on economic development, resource management, and important conservation matters. These activities are proactive preliminary efforts to gage Indigenous perspectives and determine their knowledge holders.