Legislative Initiatives

Environmental Rights Act

Environmental Rights Act

The ERA is part of a suite of legislation to protect the environment.

The Act  provides an overarching commitment to ensuring a healthy environment for NWT citizens, achieved through the implementation of complementary, issue-specific legislation, such as the Waters Act and the Environmental Protection Act (EPA).

What is the purpose of the Environmental Rights Act?

The ERA recognizes the right to protect the integrity, biological diversity and productivity of the ecosystems in the NWT, and to provide NWT residents with the tools and processes needed to ensure these rights are protected by the GNWT.

The ERA empowers NWT residents to play a meaningful role in keeping the environment and residents healthy and safe.

Why did we need amendments to the Environmental Rights Act?

The amendments to the Act increase coherence and consistency across legislation, and are based on best practices found elsewhere in Canada. The amended Act will result in improved implementation, enforcement and decision-making, which will enable the GNWT to assume post-devolution responsibilities for land, air and water, ultimately leading to a more sustainably managed environment.

The amendments also enable the GNWT to assume responsibility for elements of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). This requires that the NWT Environmental Protection Act (EPA) also be amended.

How can I use the ERA?

The ERA includes provisions to support residents to act should they feel the environment is being impacted. You can request an investigation and the Minister will respond.

The Act also requires a State of the Environment report be produced by the GNWT every four years, and the development of a government-wide Statement of Environmental Values to guide departments in their planning and decision-making that could impact the environment.

Ptarmigan Mine investigation completed under the ERA. 

How does the ERA respect Indigenous governments, organizations, and communities?

The Environmental Rights Act explicitly recognizes and affirms Indigenous and treaty rights, including the commitments of land, resources and self-government agreements, and recognizes the role of co-management bodies.

We are committed to working together to ensure our environmental regulatory system is decolonized, supports the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and reflects the unique perspectives, needs and experiences of all northerners.

Where can I find more information?

For more information on the Environmental Rights Act, contact: