On Sept. 19, 2013, the government of Quebec announced that it was reconvening the Partners Table, which brings together leaders from aboriginal communities, environmental organizations, industry, and local governments to find innovative ways to balance economic development and environmental protection in Northern Quebec. This important process led to adoption in 2010 of the 50/50 sustainable development policy in a region of Quebec that is twice the size of Texas.
The new Parti Quebecois government has announced that it will resume the Partners Table process Oct. 11, 2013. Nature Quebec and the Conseil Régional de l'Environnement de la Côte-Nord have been appointed to represent concerns related to protected areas, sustainable development, and the environment.
Pew joins the Canadian Boreal Initiative and the Society for Nature and Parks in congratulating Christian Simard of Nature Quebec and Sébastien Caron of the Conseil Régional de l'Environnement de la Côte-Nord for their appointment to the Partners Table.
Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Nature Quebec and the Conseil Régional de l'Environnement de la Côte-Nord
The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Canadian Boreal Initiative, and the Society for Nature and Parks congratulate Christian Simard of Nature Quebec and Sébastien Caron of the Conseil Régional de l'Environnement de la Côte-Nord on their appointment to the newly resumed Partners Table for Northern Development.
The previous iteration of the group brought together nearly 450 representatives of provincial, regional, First Nations (Cree, Naskapi, and Innu) and Inuit governments, and the economic, social, community, and environmental sectors. These groups worked to establish ways of cooperating that balance economic development, social concerns, and environmental protection in Northern Quebec.
On May 9, 2011, after dozens of meetings, members of the Partners Table signed a “Partners Declaration” committing to a series of balanced policies for sustainable development in Northern Quebec. These policies set a global high-water mark for sustainable development that, if fully implemented, would create a new model for other nations and states. According to the Partners Declaration, all development in Northern Quebec must or shall:
- “Be socially responsible, sustainable and environmentally sound;
- Foster the preservation of the quality of the environment, safeguard biodiversity and the traditional, ancestral way of life of the First Nations and the Inuit and allow for collective social and economic enrichment;
- Abide by the agreements already concluded with the First Nations and the Inuit living in the territory and their ancestral rights and that its implementation must be sufficiently flexible to allow for a case- by-case examination of each development project, take into account current and future negotiations, and adapt to changes in such negotiations, in particular in respect of governance;
- Complement the approaches that the Government of Quebec has already adopted in respect of the Aboriginal representatives concerned to deal with questions that require immediate action and that nation-to-nation discussions must be maintained between the Government of Quebec and the Aboriginal nations throughout the implementation of the Plan Nord; and,
- Recognizing that the territory contains some of the world's most extensive intact ecosystems, which provide an array of ecological goods and services that it is important to maintain, adopt mechanisms ensure the continuity of the commitment to devote 50% of the territory to non-industrial purposes, environmental protection and safeguarding biodiversity.”
These policies have been praised internationally and endorsed by all of Quebec's major political parties.
According to a resolution by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization, these policies “befit a sustainable development model that, if implemented in full, will allow natural resources to be developed in a spirit of respect for the environment thereby creating an exemplary sustainable development project.”
Premier Pauline Marois has pledged that the Parti Quebecois will uphold these commitments. According to a letter on her behalf, “Northern Development will be in collaboration with northern populations, Aboriginal and Inuit,” and the government will “dedicate at least 50 percent of the Northern Territory to the protection of the environment and the preservation of biodiversity.”
We believe that the Quebec Government has made excellent choices in appointing these two outstanding individuals from such esteemed organizations. Their knowledge, expertise, integrity, and passion make them ideally suited to transform these policies from the realm of ideals and commitments to reality and implementation.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Canadian Boreal Initiative
Society for Nature and Parks