The Premier of Quebec has shown an interested in placing his province strongly within the Arctic which can be seen through Plan Nord, the Strategie Maritime, and now the signing of the International Renewable Energy Cooperation Agreement at the 2016 Article Circle.
Quebec had a large presence at this year’s Arctic Circle conference, with a group of approximately 20, as well as being engaged in numerous sessions and events, including Premier Philippe Couillard’s participation in the opening plenary session, a break-out session co-organized by the Government of Quebec and the Institut nordique, and an official signing of an MOU entitled “International Renewable Energy Cooperation Agreement.” The signing of the MOU signals a continuation of the policies that Quebec has brought to the Arctic Circle conference in the past; policies that can be seen through many of the speeches given during the three day conference.
Quebec’s Policies in the north
Three pillars uphold the policies of Quebec in their north: evidence-based decision-making, communities and sustainable development. These three themes can be seen throughout the two fundamental northern strategies, Plan Nord and the Maritime Strategy, as well as the overall rhetoric of Quebec.
Evidence-based decision-making is not taken lightly when it comes to the creation and implementation of Quebec’s northern strategies. Premier Couillard, in an interview with the High North News, spoke about the important role this played in both the Plan Nord and the Maritime Strategy. “We want to introduce the concept of evidence-based decision making for each of these two policies. We created a scientific-body that is going to monitor the project as it goes and also advise the government on certain decisions it needs to make.”
Communities is another focus for Quebec according to the Premier, who said Plan Nord is, “about communities living there [in northern Quebec] and integrated development and partnerships with communities.”
Furthermore, Plan Nord focuses specifically on the importance of sustainable development, and Plan Nord is, according to the Premier, “one of the most interesting examples in the world now, of a very large sustainable development project.” Following on that belief, Quebec will host the Arctic Circle forum in Quebec City in December 2016. The theme of which is “Sustainable development in northern regions: an integrated and partnership-based approach.”
The International Renewable Energy Cooperation Agreement
During the Arctic Circle conference, The International Renewable Energy Cooperation Agreement was signed. This agreement is situated within this larger plan of placing the province on the international Arctic stage, as well as the focus on evidence-based decision making, communities and sustainable development. The agreement, which was first thought up at last year’s Arctic Circle over dinner, was signed between eight organizations, four from Quebec and four from Iceland, including INRS, Universite Laval, Ouranos, Hydro-Quebec, and Reykjavik University.
During the interview with the HNN, Premier Couillard focused on what the agreement will truly bring about, saying, “What is it going to do? Yes it is going to produce scientific papers and universities working together. But at the end of the day it is all about the communities [...] the point is to develop scientific cooperation on renewable energy of all kinds [...] that would allow us to move away from diesel generation in these communities and not only replace it with renewable energy but give rise to more autonomy and more development for the communities. ”