GNWT Adopts Statement of Environmental Values
June 7, 2022
The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Shane Thompson, is pleased to announce that the Government of the Northwest Territories has adopted a Statement of Environmental Values. This is an important step in addressing a mandate commitment of the 19th Legislative Assembly, which is to ensure climate change impacts are specifically considered when making government decisions. The NWT is the second jurisdiction in Canada to take such a step.
This means the GNWT must consider the principles and provisions set out in the Statement when making decisions that may have a significant impact on the environment. The Statement outlines seven principles to inform decision makers:
- The Precautionary Principle: If there is a threat of significant harm to the environment, err on the side of caution and prevent harm.
- The Polluter Pays Principle: If you cause harm to the environment, you are responsible to fix it, including covering the cost.
- The Ecological Sustainability Principle: We need to protect NWT ecosystems and biological diversity.
- The Intergenerational Equity Principle: Future generations have a right to a safe environment, and we can’t compromise the future to meet the needs of the present.
- The Environmental Justice Principle: Environmental justice means everyone in the NWT equally shares the benefits and burdens.
- The Sustainable Development Principle: Development cannot meet the needs of the present if it means future generations will not be able to meet their own needs as well.
- The Indigenous Rights Principle: Decisions that may impact the environment must recognize the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The commitment to establish this Statement began in 2019, when the GNWT made changes to the Environmental Rights Act. A draft Statement was developed in 2021 and provided to the public for feedback. The input received from Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, non-government organizations, and members of the public have contributed to the finalization of the Statement being released today.
The Statement applies to government decisions that could have a significant impact on the environment. These decisions may be made by any GNWT department, Aurora College, NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC), Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC), or Housing NWT.
This does not replace existing regulatory processes, and it will be the responsibility of each department or agency to implement the principles of the Statement. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be responsible for administering the Statement, monitoring advancements in environmental principles and best practices, and reviewing the Statement as needed.
“This Statement establishes the GNWT as a leader, as only the second jurisdiction in Canada to implement a statement of environmental values. The seven foundational principles included will ensure that government decision makers consider the environmental impacts before a decision is made. This work demonstrates our commitment to protecting our environment today, and for future generations.
– Shane Thompson, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources
- The NWT is the second jurisdiction in Canada to integrate a Statement of Environmental Values into government decision-making.
- The Statement of Environmental Values is part of a suite of tools that the GNWT uses to make decisions.
- The Statement sets out principles and provisions that must be considered when making decisions that could have a significant impact on the environment.
- The Statement recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples, the value of Indigenous knowledge in decision making, and the GNWT’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
For media requests, please contact:
Communications Planning Specialist
Department Environment and Natural Resources
Government of the Northwest Territories
(867) 767-9231 Ext. 53046