Negotiating environmental governance: lessons from the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements in British Columbia, Canada.




Low, Margaret (Maggie)

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The processes used to negotiate novel forms of environmental governance being deployed in the North and Central Coast of British Columbia, known as the Great Bear Rainforest, provide useful insights into the kinds of efforts that may be required to effectively address contemporary environmental problems. Through various and complex political processes – constituted by many actors – a novel set of agreements, known as the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, arguably emerged to resolve a conflict over the management of BC’s forests, a long standing and contentious issue in the province. This thesis first examines the wider limitations of institutions of governance to effectively address environmental problems and efforts to respond to these problems, particularly by environmentalists. Second, it tells the story of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, and examines their wider implications for participants of the negotiations and more generally. Overall this thesis argues that the Great Bear Rainforest negotiations can provide instructive lessons to institutions of governance by demonstrating how deliberative processes can help ease some of the structural tensions that condition environmental conflicts in Canada. Second, First Nations in the region played a crucial role in the Great Bear Rainforest negotiations, and the outcomes of this role are likely to have significant implications for future resource conflicts in the province. Third, the role of environmentalists in decision making in British Columbia is evolving.



Great Bear Rainforest, North and Central Coast, Environmental Governance, British Columbia, Indigenous Rights, Environmentalism