• Completed project

Incorporation of indigenous approaches to guardianship in Canada

We evaluated how indigenous approaches have been incorporated into Canada’s marine resource management policies.

Project Leader Duration Budget
Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai (Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development) April 2016 – September 2016 $185,000


We studied two examples of EBM in Canada: the Marine Plan Partnership for the Pacific North Coast and the Great Bear Initiative. These are 2 distinct, yet linked, examples of resource management and economic development use EBM in a way that incorporates indigenous perspectives and aspirations. Canada, like New Zealand, has an indigenous population, environmental concerns, and has been actively working in the indigenous knowledge space. 

We reviewed literature on the Canadian case studies and engaged with First Nation peoples. We identified 5 elements to consider when developing EBM that successfully incorporates indigenous perspectives and aspirations, which could be applied to New Zealand’s marine management:

  1. Power dynamics – Canada’s ‘enabling’ legal framework supported transformative shifts in policy making, engagement between First Nations and Government, and decision-making.
  2. Jurisdiction – Any party that has jurisdiction over the location, resource and/or activities should be involved in developing EBM otherwise there is a risk of conflict and ineffective co-governance.
  3. Adaptive management – ‘Learning by doing’, ie an iterative process that feeds back into future decision-making and adapts to uncertainty and/or changes in the ecosystem.
  4. Agency – Ensuring indigenous people can participate in decision-making.
  5. Recognition – Acknowledging indigenous knowledge as legitimate and using it alongside science through shared governance and participative bottom-up planning processes and monitoring.

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This project is not location specific.