Adam Chamberlain's message at the beginning of this newsletter points out that every activity in the North is shaped by the unique factors in play in the region. The particular challenges and opportunities presented by the wave of change underway in the North is receiving coverage by a wide variety of bodies and publications. This new section of the newsletter highlights some recent important – or just interesting – documents that help illuminate the special considerations of the region.
WIRELESS AND BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY:
Adam Fiser, Mapping the Long-Term Options for Canada's North: Telecommunications and Broadband Connectivity (Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada, 2013), online: Centre for the North (http://www.centreforthenorth.ca).
The Centre for the North, an initiative of the Conference Board of Canada, aims to bring together Aboriginal leaders, businesses, governments and other stakeholders to strive for a common vision of sustainable prosperity in the North. To that end, the Centre provides support through research and, through their website, maps and postings that illustrate particular social and economic issues that must be understood in pursuit of this vision. Their latest report, Mapping the Long-Term Options for Canada's North: Telecommunications and Broadband Connectivity (registration required) comes out as several companies have recently stepped forward with innovative plans for improving telecommunications and connectivity in the North. The author, Adam Fiser, identifies the current lack of connectivity in the region as an economic constraint, both at a regional level and a consumer level: at a regional level, it inhibits diversification into areas, such as new media, that require better access. He also suggests that the patchwork nature of the current systems could be a stumbling block for improving connectivity in the North and that shared network infrastructure should be encouraged among stakeholders – timely advice as more new players enter the scene.
Per-Ola Karlsson & Laurence C Smith, "Is the Arctic the Next Emerging Market?" (2013) 72 Strategy+Business (Autumn 2013), online: Strategy+Business (http://www.strategy-business.com).
Anyone with an interest in the North will have seen that the economic opportunities presented by environmental change in the region continue to receive a great deal of attention in the business media. "Is the Arctic the Next Emerging Market?" is one such article, appearing in the Autumn 2013 issue of Booz & Company's Strategy+Business. It focuses not so much on the potential of as-yet untapped natural resources, but on five key challenges to unlocking them in the region: protection of the environment and its people; insufficient investment for infrastructure; navigation of dangerous waters; unresolved governance disagreements; and a lack of scientific research into "natural resource development, sustainable economic growth, ecosystem protection, and comprehension of the impact of climate change in the Arctic". In focusing on these challenges the authors strike a cautionary note, arguing that "developing the Arctic, though ripe with opportunity, is also fraught with complexity. The desire for resource wealth must be tempered by respect for local populations and customs, and for the land itself."
LEGISLATION – LAND CLAIMS AGREEMENT OBLIGATIONS:
Northern Jobs and Growth Act, S.C. 2013, c. 14. Royal Assent June 19, 2013.
This is an omnibus Act that enacts two new statutes – the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act – and which amends the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act. The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act is enacted to implement provisions of Articles 10 through 12 of the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. While the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board were established under the Agreement in 1996, this new Act defines their functions and sets out the processes for land use planning and for the environmental assessment of proposed development projects. Similarly, the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act implements provisions of the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement and the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, by creating a surface rights board to resolve disputes regarding access to lands and compensation for access when a negotiated agreement cannot be reached. The Library of Parliament's Legislative Summary on the legislation comments that the Act responds in part to the recommendation of two influential reports: the Minister of Aboriginal Development and Aboriginal Affairs' "Action Plan to Improve Northern Regulatory Regimes"; and "Road to Improvement: "The Review of Regulatory Systems Across the North", authored by Neil McCrank, Q.C., for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in 2008.
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND ARCTIC SOVEREIGNTY:
Michael Byers, International Law and the Arctic (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013). 340pp. ISBN 9781107042759
Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, has just published International Law and the Arctic (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Byers, who also comments on Northern issues through his blog and in print and electronic media, explains international law as it pertains to issues in the Arctic, particularly in light of the climatic changes that have placed the region in an economic development spotlight, and highlights instances of international cooperation in the region.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.