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Impact Benefits Agreements

Over the past 25 years, the exploration and development of northern Canada`s mineral and oil resources has continued to grow. Given the forecasts of continued growth in resource development, there is growing concern about the negative effects on the environment and the resulting social protection. In particular, there is concern that the effects of increased development will be felt acutely by Aboriginal and northern communities. While the obligation of consultation and complacency and public engagement in the environmental assessment (EE) requires consultation, it does not determine the outcome of the commitment and generally does not require follow-up to ensure compliance with the agreements. Vale successfully negotiated the IBAs with the Nunatsiavut Government and Innu Nation, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship that maximizes benefits for Labrador Innu and Inuit and minimizes negative outcomes. Although the details of the agreements are confidential, they provide specific business, employment and training opportunities for members of the Innu Nation government and Nunatsiavut, which are related to the mining and development hub component. Confidentiality clauses are one of the main challenges in negotiating and implementing association agreements. Confidentiality rules are contained in most IBAs and limit the ability of parties to publicly discuss IBA negotiations, sensitive information (such as financial data) or concerns about project development23. These provisions may be requested by industry representatives – to protect the legitimate interests of businesses – or by Aboriginal communities.

24 Aboriginal Communities expressed concern about the possibility of a reduction in public funds if the financial elements of an IBA were known. 25 The potential effects of confidentiality rules may include a lack of transparency in the use and distribution of IBA benefits between members and communities26, as well as limited opportunities to learn from others and develop capacity for IBA negotiations27. 28 Over the past few decades, IBAs have become increasingly popular and are considered common business practices among many project proponents. While the main objective of the IBAs is to compensate Aboriginal communities for the negative effects of development, Aboriginal groups have negotiated a large number of benefits to facilitate their participation in the resource development sector.