Yukon – Northwest Territories Transboundary Water Management Agreements

The original Yukon – Northwest Territories Transboundary Water Management Agreement was signed in 2002 and focused solely on the Peel/Mackenzie Delta sub-basin. This was the first Bilateral Agreement completed under the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement.

In 2022, the governments of Yukon and Northwest Territories renewed their commitments to manage and monitor shared waters in the best interests of Northerners and signed an updated Agreement for the Peel/Mackenzie Delta sub-basin, and a new Agreement for the Liard sub-basin.

In accordance with the principles established in the Mackenzie River Basin Transboundary Waters Master Agreement, the purpose of the agreements is to cooperatively manage, protect, and conserve the ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystems of the Mackenzie River Basin common to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories while facilitating the sustainable use of transboundary waters.

Together, the parties have agreed to:

  • establish a Bilateral Management Committee for both watersheds, including representatives from Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations whose territories overlap with each basin;
  • classify rivers based on level of potential development, existing environmental conditions, and level of sensitive or traditional uses;
  • develop learning plans for rivers of higher concern, which may lead to increased collaborative monitoring; and
  • share information and consult with each other on development or activities that may impact the aquatic ecosystems.

The renewed agreements improve upon the previous approach to monitoring the territories’ shared waters by highlighting the importance of incorporating Indigenous and local knowledge into the monitoring framework, and the consideration of impacts from other factors such as climate change, on aquatic ecosystems.

These updated agreements were based on public engagement that was completed in 2020 and 2021, as well as consultation with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations. (Text pulled from press releases from the Yukon government, and the government of the Northwest Territories.)