Research database

Project information
indigenous peoples, governance, decision making, traditional knowledge, traditional land use, industry development
Project title
Indigenous-industry governance interactions in the Arctic. Environmental impacts and knowledge basis for management (IndGov)
Project leader
Camilla Brattland/Else Grete Broderstad
Geographical localization of the research project in decimal degrees (max 5 per project, ex. 70,662°N and 23,707°E)
Norway: Kvænagen: 69.7462°N 22.0883°E , Tromsø: 69°40′58″N 18°56′34″E, Tysfjord; 68°03′51″N 16°28′50″E Canada, British Columbia: Clayoquot Sound: 49°12′00″N 126°06′00″W; Broughton Archipelago 50°40′N 126°30′W


Centre for Sami Studies, UiT:


Camilla Brattland, (project leader)


Else Grete Broderstad


Dorothee Schreiber


Cathy Howlett


Horatio Sam-Aggrey


Institute for Marine and Arctic Biology, UiT:


Vera Hausner


Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU):


Einar Eythórsson


Stine Barlindhaug


Funding Source


MIKON, Fram Centre and NFR project no 259416 TriArc (2016-2020), Sami program


Summary of Results


The purpose of this project is thus to compare and learn from different approaches to traditional knowledge integration in the knowledge basis for management/industry impact assessements and succesful governance instruments. Through improved understanding of the ways intersections between indigenous traditional land use and large-scale industries work, rights- and stakeholders will furthermore be better equipped to develop plans and take actions to achieve succesful indigenous-industry cooperation. In particular, the IndGov project will seek to identify indicators for succesful integration of traditional knowledge in the knowledge base for impact assessments, as well as innovative governance instruments, to foster industry-indigenous cooperation. 


 The main activity in 2017 was to conduct preparatory data gathering and carry through a stakeholder workshop (the first out of three over three years) on industry-indigenous interactions in aquaculture and mining contexts. The workshop was held in October 2017 in Tysfjord, Norway, at the Árran Lulesami Centre. Schreiber carried out the preparatory data gathering focusing on industry-indigenous interactions in British Columbia in August 2017 (Ahousaht on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the Kwakwaka’wakw territories of the Broughton Archipelago), which was presented at the Tysfjord workshop. Eythórsson conducted a preparatory literature review and gave a presentation of how Sámi interests are dealt with in coastal zone planning in the Norwegian context (particularly centred on the Kvænangen fjord) and discussed the two governance contexts in which the industry-indigenous relations are embedded. Eythórsson and Broderstad will follow up the 2017-October workshop by interviewing spokespersons of Cermaq and Marine Harvest, and Schreiber and Brattland will based on the conducted fieldwork, work on the comparative analysis of salmon aquaculture governance to be published in a report from the Tysfjord workshop and to be submitted to an international journal. Preparing for the mining part, Sam-Aggrey carried out a Review of Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs) in Canada. IBAs are negotiated agreements between project proponents and Indigenous communities to mitigate the various social, economic, and biophysical impacts on indigenous people[1]. The report focuses on the legal status of IBAs; the timing of IBAs in the mining life cycle; the parties involved in IBA negotiations; the various types of IBA provisions; and variations in IBA provisions by industry (using available literature). The project is currently planning a new data gathering on IBAs and methods for integrating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in the knowledge basis for management.


The work initiated by the IndGov project already contributes towards fulfilling the sub goal of identifying criteria for successful integration of traditional knowledge in ecosystem based management and environmental impact assessments. By comparing different approaches to traditional knowledge integration in Norwegian coastal zone planning and in agreements/consultations between Canadian First Nations and the aquaculture industry, we are able to assess the effects of traditional knowledge integration by different governance instruments. Integration of TK in the knowledge base for governance, and potential solutions to connect indigenous and local knowledge with scientific expertise that fits the Nordic context, adds to our efforts on identifying those forms of governance that promote the most successful indigenous engagement with resource management and development opportunities. Seeing that the Canadian context is comparatively very different to the Nordic context in terms of aquaculture governance, we have also included a case study (from 2018) on indigenous Maori involvement in aquaculture governance and TK integration in order to provide a contrast to the Canadian and Norwegian contexts.


[1] Hitch, M. (2006). Impact and benefit agreements and the political economy of mineral development in Nunavut. (Ph.D. Thesis), Waterloo, Ontario: Department of Geography, University of Waterloo.


Master and PhD-students involved in the project


Sam-Aggrey has as a part of his student involvement written the paper “What we know about impact-benefit agreements in Canada” and the report Consultations, Indigenous Peoples and Business, a report focusing on the interactions through negotiations and consultations between government, indigenous peoples and the industry sector. Several cases illuminate governance dilemmas at the local level. An issue raised on consultation and negotiations is the impact of confidentiality provisions of IBAs on effective governance of these agreements. The IndGov project aims to highlight some of these complex issues, and recommend solutions that could make the governance systems less conflictual, and more responsive to local needs.


For the Management

Aquaculture industry: The IndGov project in 2017 offered a venue for discussing and comparing indigenous involvement in the aquaculture industry in terms of governance and integration of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) between diverse contexts: several First Nations´ opposition to and direct agreements with fish farmers (Marine Harvest and Cermaq) in British Columbia, Canada and relevant cases where Sami interests have been a concern for the planning of aquaculture sites and community development in Northern Norway (Marine Harvest operations close to the island of Spildra and the so-called “Sami licenses” allocated to the Lule Sami community of Tysfjord). In terms of governance arrangements, the project highlights the strong role of state coastal zone planning with local government involvement in Norway, which is contrasted with the absence of a strong planning regime in Canada and the practice of direct agreements and negotiations/consultations between the aquaculture industry and First Nations communities. While direct agreements with local communities are lacking in Norway, the municipalities and the Sami Parliament are on the one hand integrated in planning through the Planning and Building Act. On the other hand, there are few opportunities for local communities to enter into direct consultations/negotiations with the industry on the terms of their operations in the same way that First Nations are in a position to negotiate the terms of operations in their traditional territories. An implication of this is that TEK is an important instrument for First Nations when negotiating the terms of operation with the industry in Canada. In Norway the ecological knowledge of fishers (FEK) is more relevant than TEK since fishers are one of the most important stakeholder groups in municipal coastal zone planning. In these planning processes zones of aquaculture operations are defined as acceptable or not, based on a knowledge basis where the knowledge of fishers is included. Sami knowledge or TEK is not collected and included particularly. In the Canadian context First Nations are generally opposed to fish farming and have resorted to civil disobedience (fall of 2017), in the Norwegian context the role of the Sami Parliament has so far served to alleviate conflicts with local fishers. A preliminary observation is thus that the Norwegian model serves as a good example in terms of governance. In terms of TEK integration, however, the Canadian context needs to be further explored as a practice to learn from. Seeing that the Canadian situation is fraught with conflicts, however, the IndGov project has also started looking into a third context where indigenous peoples are involved with the aquaculture industry, that of the Maori of New Zealand. This will be further explored in 2018. Mining: The IndGov project aims to explore various governance models of mining industry-indigenous interaction on benefit sharing and other aspects of mining. One significant issue raised during the Tysfjord meeting is the impact of confidentiality provisions of IBAs on effective governance of these agreements. Given the power imbalance that is engendered in the relationship between indigenous communities and mining companies, the monitoring and adaptive management of IBAs is of great importance. However, confidentiality clauses embedded in IBAs make it notoriously difficult to effectively monitor these agreements. This raises a key research question about what are the governance and capacity issues that have to be addressed to improve IBA negotiation and implementation.

Published Results/Planned Publications


The following working titles are work in progress:


  • Report from the Tysfjord stakeholder workshop (due spring 2018)

  • Brattland (lead), Schreiber: Comparing indigenous aquaculture relations in Norway and Canada. Environmental and societal challenges and concerns

  • Lantto (lead), Sandström, Wil-Karlsson, Skarin, Broderstad: When traditional knowledge hits the courtroom

  • Sandström (lead), Hausner, Brattland, Lennert: Top-down or bottom-up mapping


Communicated Results


26.04.17: Presentation of IndGov at AquaLog workshop, University of British Columbia, Vancouver


14.06.17: Presentation of IndGov and TriArc at the conference “Understanding Peace in the Arctic” at UiT – the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø


August, 17: Presentation of IndGov during fieldwork in British Columbia, Canada


04.-08.10.17: IndGov presentations at Tysfjord workshop, see enclosed program          


18.10.17: Presentation of IndGov at MIKON flagship meeting


31.10.17: Article in the online newspaper “Nordlys”, Nordnorsk debatt: Urfolk, oppdrett og okkupasjoner.


Interdisciplinary Cooperation


IndGov depends on collaborative team research including social scientists, ecologists and participants from indigenous organizations. The policy-relevant question on how different knowledge systems could enhance coastal zone – and land use planning require interdisciplinary competences from different scientific fields, but also direct collaborations with people with non-academic expertise. By use of participatory workshops we are better equipped to understand how local perceptions of the industries could be integrated in management and how guidelines for collaborating with indigenous communities could be developed.


Through TriArc and IndGov, social scientists at UiT and NIKU cooperate with people with competence in sustainability science, Vera Hausner at UiT, and ecologist, Per Sandstrøm, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences on papers listed above.


Budget in accordance to results


The budget included a substantial sum for a research assistant to prepare and work on the stakeholder workshop reporting. This sum was reallocated to conduct an additional case study on Maori representation in the New Zealand aquculture industry (Cathy Howlett). The master scholarship was awarded to conduct a review of IBAs in Canada (Sam-Aggrey) and to write the report from the 2016 conference including among others the challenges faced by the reindeer husbandry in relation to industrial activities.


Could results from the project be subject for any commercial utilization


IndGov asks what are the lessons drawn from the case studies, and what can the cases tell about governance systems. During the IndGov research period we will address questions like how do the different industrial sectors differ regarding impacts on indigenous traditional lands, water and resource use;  how they differ regarding strategies adopted to address indigenous rights; how do the strategies differ within the single industries in their dealings with indigenous rights and interests across regions and continents; as well as looking into strategies adopted by indigenous peoples in one region inform and influence other indigenous regions in the circumpolar north. Relevant preliminary observations based on the first IndGov research year are:


            Aquaculture controversies:


  • In Norway coastal zone planning including some environmental impact assessments (EIAs) conducted by the municipalities plays a strong role involving local government and the Sami Parliament;

  • TEK collection is however not systematically collected as part of Norwegian municipal planning

  • In Norway the ecological knowledge of fishers (FEK) in general is more relevant than TEK since fishers are one of the most important stakeholder groups in municipal coastal zone planning


  • In Canada,  a strong ecosystem-based and/or planning regime with independent EIAs including TEK seems to be absent ; however the industry does their own monitoring and assessments

  • In Canada, the practice of direct agreements and negotiations/consultations between the aquaculture industry and some First Nations communities is clear although most First Nations resist fish farming in their territories

  • TEK is an important instrument for First Nations when negotiating the terms of operation in direct agreements with the industry in Canada;


  • An important preliminary observation on mining controversies, is that confidentiality clauses embedded in IBAs make it difficult to effectively monitor these agreements. The role of TEK in agreements with the mining industry will be further explored in 2018