Negotiation and agreements in integrated resources management


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




The purpose of this thesis is to propose a model of integrated resources management which uses techniques of negotiation and agreements to involve all interested parties in the decision making process. The thesis is developed in two parts. Part I defines the model and principles which are applied in Part II to a case study of forestry planning in community watersheds. For some years now there have been calls for natural resources management on an ecological basis. To achieve this, the law must define legal rights and procedures which ensure that all affected human interests are taken into account in management decision-making. The decision-making is characterized as a bargaining process aimed at balancing the competing interests of all affected parties. Bargaining connotes a use of negotiation and agreement. However, the established legal uses of these techniques are restricted to situations involving few parties. Complex integrated resources management has been conducted primarily through expert discretionary administration. But bureaucratic administration of complex issues is now understood as an inherently political process fraught with scientific and values uncertainties and lacking legitimacy because it is not effectively accountable to the parties whose interests are affected. The recent experience with environmental alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") suggests techniques for all affected parties to be taken into account by representative negotiation and agreement. A review of examples of environmental ADR provides some principles about the use of negotiation and agreements to supplement the regulatory processes of integrated resources management. Those principles relate to the assertion of legal rights, the need to remedy dissatisfaction with judicial procedures and the adversary system as means to challenge regulatory decisions, the negotiation process itself, and the regulatory approval and implementation of negotiated agreements. The case study commences with an analysis of the legal context. It reveals an uncertain regime of legal rights and authority. The Ministries involved have great discretionary authority; the forest licensee's legal relations are principally of a contractual nature with the Crown; and the water licensees' rights are ill-defined. This uncertain legal regime does not facilitate bargaining between the affected resource licensees. The integrated resources management framework established under administrative authority does have the potential to facilitate bargaining. Whilst the new framework is innovative and establishes new institutions, rights and duties, it is difficult to determine authoritatively the elements of that framework because they are found only in a set of policy documents and are still subject to the uncertainty of administrative discretion. Negotiation and agreements may occur in a number of different contexts in the integrated resources management framework, especially in the context of the Technical Review Committee which is the main arena for negotiation between the interested parties. There is a commentary on the negotiation process, much of the material for which was gathered in interviews with representatives of the parties involved. Various reforms of the framework should be considered to facilitate bargaining and confine administrative discretion. Principal among these are the right of all parties to appeal to an administrative tribunal when the regulatory decision is made without the consensus of the negotiating committee, and clarification of the method of adjudicating compliance with regulatory conditions. In summary, the whole framework established by the policy documents should be revised and given a legislated base. In doing this, certain legal questions need to be considered. Ultimately, the utility of the model proposed depends upon the capacity of the law to define the various natural resource interests of all people in the community.


Natural resources -- British Columbia -- Management; Natural resources -- Law and legislation -- British Columbia; Decision making -- Environmental aspects

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