Government of the Northwest Territories
Water Stewardship Strategy Evaluation
In 2008, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) started working with representatives from communities across the territory to develop a Water Stewardship Strategy in response to concerns raised about the state of aquatic ecosystems. The water system was facing new stresses from climate change and large scale developments in the surrounding region and so a partnership of government leaders, researchers and proponents came together, committed to maintaining the health of the water and holding each other accountable for any negative effects. By 2009 a document was in place identifying a clear path for levels of government, infrastructure developers and the public to work together to protect their watershed (NWT Water Strategy, 2010).
In 2014, the GNWT initiated an evaluation to fulfill the Strategy’s requirement that an independent party to assess its effectiveness five years into its implementation to inform any necessary revisions and steer future activities. The GNWT was seeking to inform the partnership and the public about progress in implementing the Strategy and recommend how to address emerging challenges and continue to build on patterns of success.
Our team worked alongside consultants from Harry Cummings and Associates (HCA) to develop a plan to carry out the evaluation. We designed an approach tailored to measuring the Action Plan’s success by its own definition: fulfilling the priorities of working together, knowing and planning, responsible resource use and progress monitoring. We assessed the program structure and closely examined the early successes of programs including source water protection, trans-boundary agreements and specific community-based monitoring and research initiatives that had grown out of the Action Plan.
The team conducted approximately 50 interviews with key informants to glean a ground level perception of the Water Strategy and the effectiveness of its implementation. Our consultants also facilitated focus group sessions at an annual partnership gathering to bring together perspectives on successes and challenges partners were experiencing.
Value for the Client Group
The results of the evaluation gave the GNWT and community leaders a tool to clearly identify ongoing successes and challenges in protecting water that flows into, within or throughout the Northwest Territories and provide residents with safe and plentiful drinking water.
SVS brought an experience-based expertise in engaging with Aboriginal communities around environmental issues and strategies to the evaluation team. We incorporated a focus into the evaluation on how local and traditional knowledge was being included into the Action Plan and how it could be done more effectively into the future.
If we collectively share our wisdom, we can observe changes to northern ecosystems and determine ways to reduce our impacts on water more effectively.
Northern Voices, Northern Waters, NWT Water Stewardship Strategy
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