Montreal – Conflicts over projects such as the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline underscore the urgent need for a new approach to land and resource decision-making. Land-use planning offers one way of applying the consent standard set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) while making development more predictable, says a new publication from the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
Implementation of UNDRIP, particularly the standard of free, prior and informed consent, will have significant impacts on resource development, environmental protection and Indigenous reconciliation in Canada. But there are few concrete examples of how this standard is being applied.
Authors Roshan Danesh (a lawyer and conflict-resolution innovator) and Robert McPhee (an economist and member of the Tahltan Nation) explore how land-use planning can be a vehicle for the operationalization of consent, with a focus on British Columbia.
In land-use planning, decisions are made about what kinds of activities can occur on a territory. The authors note that there have been numerous attempts at joint or collaborative land-use- planning processes in British Columbia, with different degrees of success. They call for the adoption of effective, clear and binding mechanisms to resolve potential disputes and outline options that would meet these objectives. These include a model under which the Crown and a First Nation would have their own decision-making processes, with agreed-upon mechanisms for aligning decisions should those decisions be inconsistent. Some processes along these lines already operate in places in BC.
“Promoting a revitalized approach to land-use planning will help all Canadians feel more confident that a stable framework exists to manage the complex intersection of Indigenous rights, resource development and environmental stewardship,” the authors conclude.
Operationalizing Indigenous Consent through Land-Use Planning, by Roshan Danesh and Robert McPhee, can be downloaded from the Institute’s website (irpp.org).
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