NWT Environmental Audit

2020 NWT Environmental Audit

About the 2020 Audit

The 2020 NWT Environmental Audit (the Audit) looked at the effectiveness of the NWT regulatory system, the quality of environmental information used to make decisions, and processes related to monitoring cumulative impacts. When examining the environmental information used to make decisions, this Audit focused on water quality and quantity as directed by a steering committee of Indigenous, territorial and federal government representatives.

Most aspects of the Audit cover all NWT regions, including both the Mackenzie Valley and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR). However, since the ISR is governed by different environmental legislation, its regulatory system was not examined.

Who conducted the Audit?

The audit was conducted by a group of independent consultants with experience in the NWT, contracted by the GNWT. A steering committee of Indigenous, territorial and federal government representatives provided guidance and direction to the Auditors.

What did the Auditors do?

As directed by legislation, the Audit Team examined the following:

  • the effectiveness of the regulatory regime created under the MVRMA to protect the environment from significant impacts
  • the effectiveness of methods used to monitor cumulative environmental impacts
  • the availability of information used to determine cumulative impacts and environmental trends for water quality and quantity
  • actions taken in response to recommendations in past audits

The Audit Team collected information through:

  • an extensive document review
  • surveys and interviews with participants in NWT regulatory processes
  • an online public survey
  • open houses in seven communities

2020 Audit Findings

The 2020 NWT Environmental Audit found the environmental regulatory system in the Northwest Territories has continued to improve since the last Audit in 2015. No new significant issues were identified, and there was progress in several areas identified in the previous Audit.

Examples of improvement include:

  • Since Devolution, the GNWT has worked with Indigenous governments and organizations to make new laws or change existing laws related to land, water and resource management.
  • The GNWT has made progress on climate change policy and action planning.
  • GNWT Inspectors are making sure industry follows the rules set out in permits and licences.

The Audit found that there are still improvements to be made in the areas of community well-being, land use planning, finalizing land claims and engaging communities. To address needed improvements, the Auditor made 40 recommendations to governments and the boards created by the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) and Waters Act.

What action is the GNWT taking in response to the Audit?

The GNWT has committed to addressing the recommendations of the Audit and continuing to improve our environmental management in the NWT.

Key actions the GNWT is taking include:

  • Hosting a forum to discuss socio-economic issues with the mining industry and Indigenous governments, with the goal of identifying ways to work together to increase the benefits to all from resource development
  • Engaging with Indigenous governments, organizations and communities, and other partners, to refresh the Mineral Development Strategy
  • Working with the federal government to make sure land use planning activities in unsettled regions of the NWT have financial support
  • Partnering with other organizations to expand water quality monitoring of lakes in the NWT
  • Releasing water quality reporting guidelines for people being licensed through the Land and Water Boards of the Mackenzie Valley
  • Developing and implementing a cumulative effects framework to improve the GNWT’s ability to consistently monitor, assess and predict cumulative effects
  • Reporting on the current roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in cumulative impact monitoring across the NWT to help identify opportunities to collaborate
  • Releasing water quality reporting guidelines to improve the consistency of water quality information provided to land and water regulators

Where can I find more information?

Questions about the NWT Environmental Audit? Email the NWT Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program (NWT CIMP) at nwtcimp@gov.nt.ca.