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Evaluation of the Northern Dimension Fund

(June 2011)

(PDF Version 915 KB) *

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Acronyms

AAC
Arctic Athabaskan Council
AC
Arctic Council
ACAC
Arctic Council Advisory Committee
ACAP
Arctic Council Arctic Contaminants Action Program Working Group
AFP
Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy Statement
AMAP
Arctic Council Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme Working Group
AMSA
Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment
CAFF
Arctic Council Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group
CanNor
Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
CICAR
Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region
CYL
Circumpolar Young Leaders
DEC
Departmental Evaluation Committee
DFAIT
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
DFO
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
DND
Department of National Defence
EC
Environment Canada
EPPR
Arctic Council Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group
GCI
Gwich'in Council International
GoC
Government of Canada
HC
Health Canada
HOM
Head of Mission
ICC
Inuit Circumpolar Council
ICNGD
International Centre for Northern Governance and Development
IISD
International Institute for Sustainable Development
INAC
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
INS
Integrated Northern Strategy
IPS
Indigenous Peoples Secretariat
MDA
Circumpolar and Aboriginal Affairs Division
MDD
Energy, Climate and Circumpolar Affairs Bureau
MFM
Global Issues Branch
NDF
Northern Dimension Fund
NDFP
Northern Dimensions of Canada's Foreign Policy
NDPHS
Northern Dimension Partnership on Health and Social Well-Being
NIF
Northern Initiatives Fund
NRCan
Natural Resources Canada
NWT
Northwest Territories
NYA
Northern Youth Abroad
OGD
Other Government Department
PAA
Program Activity Architecture
PAME
Arctic Council Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group
PP
Indigenous Permanent Participant Organization to the Arctic Council
RBM
Results-based Management
RMAF
Results-based Management & Accountability Framework
SAR
Arctic Council Search and Rescue Taskforce
SDWG
Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group
SLCF
Arctic Council Short-lived Climate Forcers Taskforce
TBS
Treasury Board Secretariat
TC
Transport Canada
T&C
Terms and Conditions
UArctic
University of the Arctic
UNCLCS
United Nations Commission for the Limits of the Continental Shelf
UNCLOS
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
ZID
Office of the Inspector General
ZIE
Evaluation Division

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Acknowledgements

The Evaluation Division (ZIE), Office of the Inspector General (ZID), of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) would like to acknowledge the contributions of Mr. Stuart Bloomfield, Mr. Patrick DeRochie, and Dr. Amr Elleithy to the production of this report. ZIE also wishes to thank all those individuals who volunteered their time and their thoughts to support this evaluation. Finally, ZIE gratefully acknowledges the contributions of members of the Evaluation Advisory Committee who guided the evaluation throughout all its phases.

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Executive Summary

Launched in March 2001, with an annual budget of Canadian (CND) $2 million per year for a period of five years, the Northern Dimension Fund (NDF) was designed to support activities that help to ensure Canada's Northern interests are effectively advocated and advanced internationally, and to achieve the objectives of Canada's Arctic foreign policy. More specifically, the NDF was framed by the following principles:

  1. Meeting Canada's commitments and taking a leadership role;
  2. Establishing partnerships within and beyond government; and,
  3. Engaging in ongoing dialogue with Canadians, especially Northerners.

In keeping within this framework, the NDF, as provided in the Performance Measurement Framework Report of 2007-2008, has focused on the following output results:

  1. Take a strong leadership role in Arctic Council (AC) affairs domestically and internationally.
  2. Engage bilaterally with other countries on Arctic foreign policy priorities.
  3. Support Canada-based Permanent Participants (PPs) and northern-focused organizations/institutions to participate in circumpolar policy, including through capacity building activities.
  4. Promote a higher domestic profile for Canada's Arctic foreign policy.

The NDF has been subject to a summative evaluation, conducted in 2005, and a Mid-Term Review, which was conducted in 2008/09. Both studies affirmed the importance and relevance of the NDF as an instrument to support Canada's Arctic foreign policy, but recommended that greater efforts be made to strengthen: partnerships with other government departments (OGDs); engagement with Canadians, especially northerners and indigenous people; and program management systems and procedures.

In line with the Treasury Board Secretariat's (TBS) Policy on Evaluation, which requires the evaluation of all direct program spending, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) identified the Northern Dimensions Fund (NDF) as a candidate for evaluation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010/11, which coincides with the end of NDF's current funding cycle. This evaluation was undertaken between the months of December 2010 and March 2011. Data collection in support of the evaluation included: a literature and document review; an examination of over 35 project files constituting in excess of 70% of NDF disbursements over the study period; and, interviews with approximately 60 individuals representing a wide range of northern stakeholders.

This evaluation found that Canada, through the NDF, has supported whole-of-government engagement that has contributed strong leadership at the AC, both through its continued support to the AC Working Groups and PPs. Such support has strengthened the voices of the Arctic's northern and indigenous people, increased awareness and understanding of how changes in the Arctic (environmental, economic, and social) impact on these populations, and contributed to the adoption of common approaches to address challenges relating thereto. Canada, through the NDF, has scored notable success in strengthening ties with its circumpolar neighbors (e.g., Norway and Russia) and in garnering the support of the European Union (EU) on elements of Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy (AFP) Statement.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Canada's continued leadership on Arctic issues will be contingent on strengthening DFAIT's policy development and programming capacity. Canada faces a wide range of pressing policy issues relating to the AC that will require research and extensive consultations with stakeholders to develop common policy positions that will tax the capacity of existing departmental human resources. Although it would be unreasonable to presume that the NDF alone can support all of Canada's Arctic policy objectives, there is evidence that the Fund's current programming profile could benefit from adjustments to better align investments with evolving GoC priorities for the Arctic. This speaks to a need to review the existing program architecture and to identify areas where NDF resources can best be used to support identified priorities. The newly constituted Northern Dimension Program Advisory Committee is well placed to perform this role.

While this evaluation notes improvements in program planning, it also notes weaknesses and limitations. With regard to strengthening the capacity of the PPs and other northern organizations to participate in circumpolar policy dialogue, the accent has been on supporting the ability of PPs to participate in various policy fora with less attention given to supporting the capacity of the PPs to contribute to policy dialogue taking place within those fora. This is due in large measure to structural limitations of the NDF (e.g., the size of the fund and absence of multi-year funding authority) which have limited ability to support longer-term capacity-building with the PPs. Addressing this deficit would require a more strategic and structured approach to institutional capacity building which could require multi-year funding authority.

With regard to the objective of raising the profile of Canada's AFP domestically, a lack of clarity concerning the performance indicators for this objective led to broad interpretations of the output statement by program administrators resulting in a mix of initiatives, some of which have contributed to an enhancement of the AFP domestically with many others being focused on domestic outreach and engagement which was perceived by program administrators as a higher priority. Going forward, the objective, and its associated performance indicators, should be clarified.

The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) identified a number of areas for improvement in the technical and administrative infrastructure supporting the management of the NDF. While this evaluation notes that some progress has been made in addressing these areas, more improvements are recommended to strengthen comptrollership. Although progress is noted in instituting an integrated financial and records management system, the system remains only partially operational. The Circumpolar and Aboriginal Affairs Division (MDA), in conjunction with the Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region (CICAR), has developed and instituted a more rigorous and formal system of proposal review and selection, though the development of reporting templates for project proponents remains a work in progress.

Although MDA updated its Performance Measurement Framework (PFM) for the NDF in 2009, it is recognized that this Framework will require further revisions in light of modifications to the output statements and related performance indicators. Following these revisions, it will be necessary for MDA to allocate resources to support the effective implementation of the Framework. There is also a need for MDA to update its risk management strategy for the NDF to comply with current TBS requirements. Additionally, a review of the roles and responsibilities of personnel within the Division should be undertaken to strengthen strategic direction from the management team and to ensure that human resources dedicated to the administration of the NDF are commensurate with demands of the task.

Based on the foregoing analysis, the following recommendations are presented for consideration:

  1. MDA should review the current output/outcome articulations for the NDF with the aim of updating and bringing greater clarity to these statements and alignment with declared priorities and objectives.
  2. MDA should develop engagement strategies for three of the four outcome statements that identify immediate and intermediate goals, target groups, and resources to be allocated in support thereof, including the possible use of multi-year funding for select recipients.
  3. MDA should review its current Performance Measurement Framework in reference to any changes to the outcome articulations and develop appropriate outputs, immediate and intermediate outcomes and performance indicators relating thereto.
  4. MDA should review current Divisional roles and responsibilities with respect to the administration of the NDF.
  5. MDA should accelerate efforts to: institute and render operational its electronic records management system (financial and program data); revise project reporting templates and guidelines, and; update its risk management strategy.
  6. MDA should review Divisional resources with the view to ascertaining the appropriate quantum of resources required to respond to growing policy and programming needs.

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1.0 Introduction

The Evaluation Division (ZIE) at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) is housed within the Office of the Inspector General (ZID) and is mandated by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) through its new Evaluation Policy (effective 1 April 2009) to conduct evaluations of all direct program spending of the Department (including Grants & Contributions). ZIE reports quarterly to the Departmental Evaluation Committee (DEC) which is chaired by the Deputy Ministers of DFAIT.

In line with the requirement to evaluate all direct program spending of the Department, the Northern Dimensions Fund (NDF) was identified as a candidate for evaluation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010/11, which coincides with the end of NDF's current funding cycle. The target audience for the evaluation is the senior management of DFAIT's Circumpolar Affairs Division (MDA), of the Energy, Climate and Circumpolar Affairs Bureau (MDD) under the Global Issues Branch (MFM), which is fully responsible for the administration and implementation of the NDF.

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2.0 Background

2.1 Northern Context

The world is turning its attention northward. The geopolitical significance of the region and the implications for Canada has never been greater. The Arctic's changing climate, environmental fragility, cultural diversity, vast resource wealth, accelerating economic and social development, and geopolitical importance have garnered the interest of not just circumpolar countries, but non-Arctic countries as well.

Despite the differing interests in and visions for the Arctic among the world's eight circumpolar countries1, they came together in Ottawa in 1996 to form the Arctic Council (AC) as a high level forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, with the involvement of Arctic indigenous communities and other Northern inhabitants on common Arctic issues2. The 1996 Ottawa Declaration created a category of Permanent Participant (PP) to provide for active participation and full consultation with Arctic indigenous representatives within the AC3. In 1998, the First Ministerial Meeting of the AC was held in Iqaluit, Northwest Territories (NWT)4.

A study commissioned in 1997 by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs entitled Canada and the Circumpolar World: Meeting the Challenges of Cooperation into the Twenty-First Century led to the creation, in November 1999, of The Northern Dimension of Canada's Foreign Policy (NDFP). It was launched in June 2000 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to promote Canadian interests and values and address challenges shared by Canada and its circumpolar neighbours. The key objectives of this policy were: a) enhancing the prosperity and security of all Canadians; b) asserting and ensuring Canada's sovereignty in the North; c) establishing the Circumpolar region as a recognized geopolitical entity in a rules-based international system; and d) promoting the human security of northerners and sustainable development, including environmental protection of the North.

In recent years, the Arctic has taken on even more importance and prominence in Canadian foreign policy. In July 2009, the Government of Canada (GoC), as a commitment to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada, released an integrated Northern Strategy with four pillars: exercising sovereignty; promoting economic and social development; protecting our environmental heritage; and improving and devolving northern governance.

The Northern Strategy was followed up by the release of the Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy: Exercising Sovereignty and Promoting Canada's Northern Strategy Abroad on August 20, 2010. This statement articulates the international dimension of the four pillars of Canada's Northern Strategy and provides Canada's vision for the Arctic as a stable, rules-based region with clearly defined boundaries, dynamic economic growth and trade, vibrant Northern communities, and healthy and productive ecosystems.

2.2 Program History and Objectives

Following the declaration of the GoC's NDFP in 2000, TBS approved in March 2001 the creation of a class of contributions of up to Canadian (CND) $2 million per year for a period of five years to support activities that ensure Canada's Northern interests are effectively advocated and advanced internationally, and to achieve the objectives of Canada's foreign policy. This marked the beginning of the NDF. The NDF was from its inception framed by the following principles:

  1. Meeting Canada's commitments and taking a leadership role;
  2. Establishing partnerships within and beyond government; and,
  3. Engaging in ongoing dialogue with Canadians, especially Northerners.

In keeping within this framework, the NDF, as provided in the Performance Measurement Framework Report of 2006-2007, focused on the following output results:

  1. Playing a leadership role in the AC to further Canadian priorities.
  2. Engaging circumpolar countries on Canada's Northern policy priorities.
  3. Strengthening the capacity of Northern organizations to participate in circumpolar policy dialogue and cooperative activities.
  4. Increasing public support for Canada's role in building a vibrant circumpolar community.

As outlined in the NDF's Performance Measurement Framework Report, 2007-2008, modifications were made to the initial formulation of intended output results. Expected output results are now:

  • 1. Take a strong leadership role in AC affairs domestically and internationally.
  • 2. Engage bilaterally with other countries on AFP priorities.
  • 3. Support Canada-based Permanent Participants (PPs) and northern-focused organizations/institutions to participate in circumpolar policy, including through capacity building activities.
  • 4. Promote a higher profile for AFP domestically.

From its inception, the NDF has engaged a wide range of key stakeholders including:

  • 5. Canadian-based indigenous PPs of the AC:
    • Arctic Athabaskan Council (AAC)
    • Gwich'in Council International (GCI)
    • Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC)
  • 6. AC Working Groups and Taskforces:
    • Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME)
    • Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
    • Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)
    • Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR)
    • Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP)
    • Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)
    • AC Search and Rescue (SAR) Taskforce
    • AC Short-lived Climate Forcers (SLCF) Taskforce
  • 7. Canadian Arctic and non-Arctic missions:
    • Copenhagen (COPEN)
    • Reykjavick (RKJVK)
    • Oslo (OSLO)
    • Helsinki (HSNKI)
    • Moscow (MOSCO)
    • St. Petersburg (SPURG)
    • Stockholm (STKHM)
    • Anchorage (ANCOR)
    • Washington (WSHDC)
    • Brussels (BREU)
    • London ( LDN)
    • Berlin (BRLIN)
    • Paris ( PARIS) receiving Northern Initiative Funds (NIF)
  • 8. The Governments of the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut
  • 9. Other Government Departments (OGDs)/Agencies/Commissions working on Arctic issues, including:
    • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
    • Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)
    • Department of National Defence (DND)
    • Environment Canada (EC)
    • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
    • Health Canada (HC)
    • Transport Canada (TC)
    • Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
    • Canadian Polar Commission
  • 10. Individuals and groups proposing specific and innovative ideas of particular promise that advance the overall objectives of the NDFP and AFP, and
    • Academic Institutions (including UArctic)
    • Aurora College
    • Nunavut Arctic College
    • Yukon College
    • University of Saskatchewan, International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD)

2.3 Governance and Funding Levels

MDA, DFAIT, is fully responsible for the administration and implementation of the NDF. In 2006, TBS approved renewal of funding for the program through to March 31, 2011. It also approved the establishment of a Grant to the United Nations Trust Fund for Indigenous Issues in the amount of CND $30,000 commencing in 2006/07 to 2010/11. Currently, the annual budget of the NDF is around CND $1 million supporting 37 ongoing projects with 85 projects having been completed as of 27 March 2009. See Tables 1 and 2 for Summary of Planned and Actual Disbursements by Output.

Table 1: Summary of Planned Disbursements by Ouput
Outputs2006/20072007/20082008/20092009/2010Total
Source: Northern Dimensions Fund Mid-term Review 2009. “Financial Breakdown by Project (FY 2006/7-FY 2008/9).”
1643,289574,479591,000499,0002,307,768
2259,483282,583216,74885,000843,814
3393,483145,377201,886181,000921,746
478,250145,746147,933247,500619,429
Totals1,374,5881,148,1851,157,5671,012,5004,692,753

 

Table 2: Summary of Actual Disbursements by Ouput
Outputs2006/20072007/20082008/20092009/2010Total
Source: Northern Dimensions Fund Mid-term Review 2009. “Financial Breakdown by Project (FY 2006/7-FY 2008/9).”
1607,770574,479678,127478,281228,8657
2198,384282,583146,160166,997794,125
3387,223145,377119,752107,300777,377
478,250145,813111,670148,614484,347
Totals1,271,6271,148,2541,055,709901,1924,376,780

On an annual basis, more than half of the program budget has been spent on Output One initiatives designed to advance Canada's leadership role in AC affairs, most notably through funding to Canada's three indigenous PPs, which enables their representation and participation in the AC, and to four of the AC's six Working Groups. AAC is an international treaty organization that allows for the active participation and representation of Athabaskan First Nation governments in international fora and promotes greater understanding of the culture and heritage of North American Athabaskan people. ICC is a non-profit organization that promotes the rights, interests and solidarity of Inuit peoples in Canada, Russia, Alaska and Greenland, including on the AC. GCI, a non-profit organization that ensures the representation and participation of all regions of the Gwich'in Nation in the development of circumpolar policy, notably on the AC.

The four AC Working Groups receiving significant NDF funding are the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG), which aims to protect and enhance the economies, culture and health of inhabitants of the Arctic in an environmental sustainable manner, the Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response (EPPR), which exchanges information and best practices and conducts projects on the prevention, preparedness and response to environmental emergencies and natural disasters in the Arctic, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), which addresses the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, engaging the knowledge of indigenous and local peoples in the process, and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME), which is mandated to address policy and non-emergency pollution prevention and control measures relating to the protection of the Arctic marine environment from both land and sea-based activities.

Other recipients of significant funding under the NDF's first output are the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat (IPS), the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), a project of the PAME working Group) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Circumpolar Young Leaders internship.

The main thrust of NDF program spending under Output Two is allocated to the NIF, which has provided around CND $6,000 per FY to Canadian missions in the circumpolar region for activities that promote Canada's Arctic image and interests and advance Canada's bilateral relations with governments and organizations in other circumpolar countries. The embassies in Moscow (MOSCO), Oslo (OSLO), Helsinki (HSNKI), Copenhagen (COPEN), Stockholm (STKHM), Reykjavik (RKJVK), Washington (WSHDC) and the consulate in Anchorage (ANCOR) receive NIF funds. In the earlier years of the NIF, the consulate in St. Petersburg (SPURG) also received regular funding.

Additionally, non-Arctic missions have received funds on a case-by-case basis following the creation of a regional fund ($25 thousand) to engage stakeholders in those countries. These missions have included the embassies in Berlin (BRLIN), London (LDN), Brussels (BRUE) - including also the permanent mission to the European Union (EU) and Paris (PARIS). Other notable initiatives receiving NDF funds under Output Two are the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development's Russian indigenous governance projects, the EU Northern Dimension Partnership on Health and Social Well-Being (NDPHS), the Canada-Norway Bilateral Dialogue, and the International Polar Year/World Science and View From Above journalist visits.

About half of NDF funds under Output Three have been allotted to four post-secondary institutions involved in the University of the Arctic (UArctic) in Canada--the University of Saskatchewan, Aurora College, Nunavut Arctic College and Yukon College. The UArctic aims to empower the residents of the circumpolar North by building human capital, reducing barriers to higher education, supporting the aspirations of indigenous peoples, and strengthening knowledge about Arctic issues. In more recent years, funding has only been provided to the three territorial colleges in relation to UArctic.

Lesser, but not insignificant, Output Three amounts have gone to other youth-focused educational initiatives, such as the IISD's Circumpolar Young Leaders Program, which enables Northern youth to gain valuable experience in the circumpolar policymaking world; Students on Ice, which offers educational expeditions to the Arctic for Canadian youth; the Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium, a project of SDWG to discuss the future of Arctic languages and dialects; and Northern Youth Abroad, which enables young people living in Nunavut and NWT to acquire professional skills and work experience in southern Canada and abroad.

NDF funding under Output Four is distributed widely among various working groups, institutions, academics, and conferences that pertain to research on Arctic sovereignty, scientific, environmental, security and legal issues. The Arctic Fellowship Program was designed to foster innovative research and policy development on a range of issues related to the circumpolar world and to encourage and promote research of circumpolar studies by Canadian graduate students.

Significant NDF funds were also allocated to specific research projects on sovereignty (Fys 2007/8 and 2008/9), the Beaufort Sea (FY 2006/7) and Arctic stewardship (FY 2006/7). Funding was also provided in 2009/10 and 2010/11 to support the development of a Model Arctic Council, to engage high-school aged youth in learning about the Arctic Council. Furthermore, small amounts of between $3,000 and $6,500 per FY were allotted to help cover the Federal Council dues of the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut.

It should be noted that, under each of the four outputs, small amounts (less than CND $10,000) have been spent on various initiatives, such as attendance at meetings, seminars and conferences related to Arctic issues, capacity-building and outreach activities and project/initiative support.

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3.0 Evalutaion Objectives

Overall, the objectives of the evaluation are:

  • To determine the extent to which the NDF and the initiatives it supports continue to be consistent with and supportive of the GoC's Arctic foreign policy;
  • To determine the extent to which the NDF is responsive to the needs and interests of Canadians;
  • To determine the extent to which the NDF has succeeded in achieving its declared outcomes as provided in the 2006 Results-Based Management & Accountability Framework (RMAF) and contributed to the realization of program objectives;
  • To determine the extent to which the governance structure and the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities currently defined for DFAIT and its partners are appropriate;
  • To assess the extent to which resources allocated for the NDF and associated risks are being managed effectively and efficiently in relation to declared objectives; and
  • To derive lessons learned and best practices for future programming.

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4.0 Key Considerations

An impact evaluation of the NDF was conducted in 2005 which reiterated the importance of the NDF, stating that "all evidence supports the finding that a northern dimension of Canada's foreign policy is necessary5." Canada has been a pioneer in incorporating northern concerns into its overall foreign policy and, since the advent of the NDFP, other countries have developed specific northern components to their own foreign policies. The interconnected nature of the circumpolar world and the need for circumpolar policy initiatives are becoming widely recognized.

The 2005 evaluation found that significant progress had been made towards strengthening the AC, with Canada enhancing its influence in the Council's working groups and providing support and funding for its Aboriginal PPs organizations. These leadership and capacity-building activities remain core elements of the NDF. While funding and strengthening the UArctic was specifically mentioned in the mandate of the NDF in 2000, the 2005 evaluation remarked that some of the initiatives supporting the four priorities were beyond the scope and resources of the NDF and better suited for OGDs involved in Arctic affairs. This led to the transfer of primary funding for the UArctic to other departments, with DFAIT funding going to more discreet initiatives that do not require year-to-year funding of core UArctic activities.

The evaluation also provided 5 overall recommendations for the future implementation of the NDF:

  1. Focus priorities for the next five years to address current issues and support NDF goals;
  2. Strengthen DFAIT and Canadian leadership in Circumpolar Affairs;
  3. Strengthen partnerships with OGDs and agencies, territorial governments and land claims groups;
  4. Strengthen initiatives to engage Canadians, especially Northerners and Indigenous groups; and,
  5. Continue to improve program management systems and procedures.

Following the renewal of Terms and Conditions for the NDF in 2006, a mid-term review was conducted in 2008/09, at the request of MDA, to assess the capacity of DFAIT to plan, manage, achieve and demonstrate results consistent with departmental priorities and those of the GoC with regards to circumpolar affairs. Among other things, this review found that: the work of the NDF is directly in line with the most recent articulations of GoC priorities; targeted stakeholders were actively engaged in program activities; and the program had demonstrated success in mobilizing resources. That being said, the review noted that insufficient data was being collected to support evidence-based performance and reporting on results.

In 2008, the GoC advanced an INS designed to strengthen Canada's sovereignty, protect its environmental heritage, promote economic and social development and improve and devolve Northern governance. The long-term vision of the INS engages a broad range of federal departments and includes building new Arctic patrol vessels, an icebreaker and a deep-water port; mapping the underwater continental shelf for submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS) in 2013; expanding conservation areas, national parks and marine protected areas; enhancing Arctic and climate change research capacity; providing affordable housing and economic benefits and incentives for Northerners; increasing funding for Territorial governments; and negotiating land claim and self-government settlements with Northern Aboriginals. The NDF's activities are intimately linked to the INS, and must be viewed as part of a whole-of-government approach to Arctic policy.

By releasing the new Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy (AFP) in 2010, the GoC is demonstrating that the Arctic and circumpolar region is a priority for Canada, and that Canada is dedicated to fulfilling the North's true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada. The Statement outlines a vision of the Arctic as a stable, rules-based region with clearly defined boundaries, dynamic economic growth and trade, vibrant Northern communities, and healthy and productive ecosystems. The GoC has also affirmed its commitment to working with others on circumpolar issues, particularly through bilateral relations with our Arctic neighbours and through regional mechanisms like the AC. The statement also emphasizes Canada's position that the AC is the leading multilateral forum for Arctic issues. The NDF is and will continue to be an important part of this whole-of-government effort to address Arctic issues, notably through efforts to engage Canada's circumpolar neighbours, Aboriginals and other Northerners and Arctic-focused organizations. Thus, it is expected that the evaluation will involve an assessment of how the NDF fits into and complements both the previous NDFP and the newly stated GoC priorities and how its initiatives advance Canada's Arctic interests.

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5.0 Strategic Linkages

Global interest in the Arctic is growing. China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and the European Commission have each applied for Permanent Observer status to the AC and Singapore and Argentina will likely soon submit an application to become observers. Canada is a northern nation and must maintain and enhance its leadership in circumpolar affairs in partnership with Northerners, its Territorial partners and the private sector, in order to ensure that Canada's Northern interests continue to be advanced at the AC.

Canada was the first chair of the AC (1996-1998) and will assume the rotating two-year chairmanship again in 2013. This will be the first Canadian chairmanship since the AC was formed in 1996, and presents a real opportunity for Canada to exercise leadership on Arctic issues. The NDF further emphasizes the need for Canadian leadership in the AC and the evaluation will assess activities related to support Canada's chairmanship of the AC from 2013-2015.

Following the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2003, Canada submitted its claims to an extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. Under the Convention, the UNCLOS can approve countries' territorial claims up to 350 nautical miles from their coast if they can provide robust scientific evidence that the undersea continental shelf is a natural extension of their territory.

Other international issues underscore the need for strong bilateral and multilateral relations with circumpolar neighbours. The first is the ongoing border dispute between the United States and Canada in the Beaufort Sea. While Canada claims the maritime boundary to stretch 200 nautical miles along the 141st meridian (the Alaska-Yukon border), the US claims the boundary should extend at a perpendicular angle from the Alaskan coastline. The conflicting claims create a disputed wedge-shaped area of the Beaufort Sea under which vast petroleum reserves are thought to exist. The GoC conveyed its interest to resolve the dispute during a keynote address at the Washington Conference on the Americas on 14 May 2010, citing the successful resolution of a long-standing Barents Sea boundary dispute between Russia and Norway as an example of Arctic cooperation.

A further complexity is the fact that the Arctic is one of the world's most fragile ecosystems and is highly vulnerable to climate change. Warming temperatures and changing conditions threaten Arctic wildlife, disrupt the traditional ways of life of Aboriginals and other Northerners, and expose the Canadian North to a number of trade, environmental, social, economic and energy challenges. The Arctic is home to vast natural resources, and oil exploration, extraction and transport introduces an entirely new set of opportunities as well as risks to Northern people and their environment.

Each of these issues will require consideration when looking at the past and future role of the NDF. Continued engagement of Arctic neighbours, Northerners and Arctic-focused organizations is therefore essential to meeting the challenges and opportunities posed by unprecedented changes in the Arctic, and the evaluation must consider this factor.

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6.0 Evaluation Methology

The following section outlines the evaluation methodology for assessing the evaluation issues and questions.

6.1 Document and Database Collection and Review

A review of literature related to Arctic and Circumpolar Affairs, as well as relevant policy and program documents, was undertaken to support the assessment of the relevance and performance of NDF programs and activities. Documents examined includes, but not necessarily restricted to, the following:

  • Guiding documentation of the NDF, including the RMAF and Treasury Board submissions
  • Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy, released August 20, 2010
  • The GoC's strategy and priorities within the NDF
  • Arctic Foreign policy speeches made by Minister Lawrence Cannon on 11 March 2009, 27 March 2009 and 6 April 2009
  • Organizational Chart, responsibilities, and lines of communication for the NDF, Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region (CICAR), MDA and MDD
  • NDF program/project documents and lists of stakeholders
  • The "Canada and the Circumpolar World" website
  • The Northern Strategy and CanNor websites
  • Briefs on bilateral relations relating to Canada's Northern Dimension
  • The strategies, programs and priorities of other GoC departments actively engaged in the Arctic
  • The Arctic policy strategies, programs and priorities of the governments, organizations and stakeholders of other nations playing a leading role in circumpolar affairs
  • AC guiding documents, including reports by the six AC working groups and two taskforces
  • The 2005 Evaluation of the NDF and the 2005 Audit of the NDF as well as recipients audits.
  • The 2009 Mid-Term Review of the NDF and the MDA response
  • News articles on Canadian Arctic policy and the Arctic policy of other circumpolar countries
  • UArctic website, work plan and other documents

6.2 Selection of NDF Projects and Activities to Evaluate

Initial examination of the NDF revealed that many of the program's projects are small in nature (given the limited size of the program's overall budget), ranging from meetings, conference attendance, support for small initiatives, membership dues/contributions, representational fees and outreach activities. These factors considered, combined with the limited resources available to support the evaluation, a selective sampling of projects was undertaken based on the following criterion:

  • Size of expenditure
  • Coverage of each of the NDF's four objectives (output results)
  • Length of project engagement over time period under review
  • Domestic vs. international focus
  • Type of activities (Advocacy/outreach, conference attendance, research support, membership support, Institutional capacity support, networking, bilateral engagement, etc.)

Based on this sampling criterion, ZIE identified 35 NDF projects constituting roughly 70% of spending on each of the NDF's four outputs between FYs 2006/07 and 2009/10.

6.3 Interviews

Interviews were conducted with close to 60 individuals representing a wide range of northern stakeholders including:

  • DFAIT personnel - Energy, Climate and Circumpolar Affairs Bureau (MDD), Circumpolar and Aboriginal Affairs Division (MDA), Canadian International Centre for the Arctic region (CICAR), and missions abroad, including Brussels, Washington Moscow Anchorage, Copenhagen, Stockholm;
  • Other government departments (OGDs) - Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Health Canada, and the Circumpolar Commission;
  • Territorial governments - Nunavut, North West Territories, Yukon;
  • Permanent participants (PPs) - Gwith'in Council International, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Inuit Circumpolar Council;
  • Academia - University of Toronto, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, University of Northern British Colombia) Munk Centre;
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - Northern Youth Abroad, Students on Ice, Walter Gordon Duncan Foundation; and,
  • University of Arctic representatives - Aurora College, Yukon College, Nunavut College.

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7.0 Limitations to Methodology and Mitigating Measures

This evaluation was subject to several limitations which are as follows:

  • Background literature and document reviews, as well as interviews with several departmental stakeholders, including DFAIT staff in Oslo, Norway, were undertaken in December 2010 in support of the development of the Evaluation Work Plan which was formally endorsed by the Evaluation Advisory Committee (EAC) in mid-January, 2011. Given a commitment to submit preliminary findings and recommendations to MDA by the first week of March 2011, this left effectively six weeks to conduct most of the data collection and analysis in support of the findings and recommendations.
  • The condensed timelines precluded any field visits to the Canadian north as originally envisaged. To address this challenge, the evaluators relied on telephone interviews with interlocutors outside the national capital region;
  • The evaluators faced difficulties in arranging interviews with stakeholders in Canada's North. To address this challenge, the evaluators sent multiple invitations to prospective interlocutors;
  • Recent staff turnover at MDA. To address this challenge, the evaluators endeavored to track down personnel who were formally with MDA; and
  • The evaluation was conducted within the context of a rapidly evolving policy and programming environment during which time MDA was in the process of developing policies, refining systems, methodologies and approaches. To address this challenge, the evaluators reported on and assessed the intended directions of these initiatives while exercising caution not to attribute results not supported by evidence.

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8.0 Evaluation Findings

8.1 Relevance

8.1.1 Continued Need for the Initiative

Finding 1:
Dedicated resources, like those provided by the NDF, are needed to effectively support and advance Canada's Arctic foreign policy.

The GoC's Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy (AFP) released in August 2010 affirms the importance the government places on the Arctic. The AFP sets out an ambitious agenda comprised of four themes (exercising sovereignty, promoting economic and social development, protecting the environment, and improving and devolving Northern governances) as well as thirteen areas of focus for international efforts.

The importance of the Arctic to Canadians in general was further affirmed in a recent study commissioned by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and Munk School of Global Affairs, entitled Rethinking the Top of the World (hereinafter Top of the World Report), wherein it states that "Canadians see the Arctic as our foremost foreign policy priority and one which should be resourced accordingly."

In 2013 Canada will assume the Chair of the Arctic Council (AC). This presents an opportunity for the GoC to advance its foreign policy goals for the Arctic and affect the management of the region for years to come. Other Arctic nations that have assumed the chair of the AC, while relying on different funding mechanisms, have marshaled significant resources to support their respective agendas. Canada will need to do the same, and the NDF will no doubt have an important role to play in that enterprise.

Finding 2:
The NDF in design and orientation has been responsive to the needs of Canadian stakeholders. Going forward, as the geopolitical significance of the region continues to increase, a strategic approach is required to aligned with emerging needs.

The four output statements for the NDF, as provided in Performance Measurement Framework (2007-2008), were considered by stakeholders to have been responsive to their needs. NDF support to the AC and its working groups (Output One) has contributed to strengthened institutional capacity, and as a consequence enhanced the relevance and stature of these bodies. As the AC continues to evolve, future discussions among participants may touch on questions relating to the future of mandate of the AC, its role with respect to policy leadership, its organizational structure, and the roles and responsibilities of participants. These issues are not for Canada alone to decide, though Canada will need to develop negotiating positions based on strategic policy analysis and stakeholder consultations. To this end, MDA has developed a divisional work plan to respond to these questions, though much work remains to be done.

Advancing Canada's AFP requires advocacy and engagement with other countries (Output Two), which is the primary role of the Northern Initiative Fund (NIF). While the NIF is viewed by missions abroad as an important instrument to promote Canada's AFP, success in achieving this objective in the past has been checkered, in part due to a lack of strategic direction on the use of the Fund - see Finding 3 regarding alignment with GoC priorities - though this deficit has recently been addressed with the development of new guidelines for the NIF and a new Advocacy Strategy.

NDF support to the PPs (Output Three) has been critical in allowing them to participate in AC, working group, and other domestic and international fora. Much of this support, however, has been in the form of on-going budgetary/operations support. The ever expanding number of issues before the AC and their increasingly technical nature places significant demands on the PPs, straining their capacity to participate in and contribute to meaningful policy development. Meeting these challenges will require a more robust institutional capacity development plan, which currently does not exist. Further, youth engagement was cited by virtually all stakeholders as a programming area which would benefit from additional attention.

While stakeholders remarked on the relevance of raising the profile of Canada's Arctic foreign policy domestically (Output Four), the importance of this objective is perceived to have diminished. In recent years, particularly during the development of Canada's Arctic foreign policy, greater attention has been placed on efforts to reach out and engage Canadian stakeholders, which is in part reflected in the programming activities that have been supported by the NDF under Output Four. Given the perceived need among stakeholders to strengthen domestic outreach and engagement, terms and conditions should be reviewed in light of this new orientation.

8.1.2 Alignment with Government Priorities

Finding 3:
The NDF has been consistent with and supportive of GoC priorities, though there are areas where NDF alignment with evolving priorities could be strengthened.

The international dimension to Canada's northern strategy is a whole-of-government enterprise where DFAIT may play a preeminent though not an exclusive role in supporting that strategy. The same principle applies to the role of the NDF - see Finding 4 re alignment of federal roles and responsibilities. The extent to which the NDF is aligned with GoC Arctic priorities thus depends significantly on the role envisaged for the NDF itself in that larger GoC strategy.

The NDF supports, to varying degrees, all four thematic pillars of Canada's AFP. It contributes to Canada's territorial claims to the Arctic (sovereignty) through support, albeit indirectly, to the PPs (historical title through occupation and use), through its support to scientific research (natural and social), again indirectly, undertaken by the AC working groups, and through legal research. The NDF contributes indirectly to economic and social development in the north, through its support to the SDWG, through its support to northern academic institutions (UArctic), and through the NIF. The NDFfurther contributes to the protection of the Arctic environment through its support to the AC and Working Groups (AC Arctic Ocean Review, AC Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, AC Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Arctic project, etc.). Finally, the NDF has contributed to empowering peoples of the north and improved governance through its support to the AC, the PPs, and other northern organizations.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, opportunities for a better alignment of investments with GoC priorities exist. For example, sovereignty could be supported through targeted assistance to organizations and activities which support this objective. Social and economic development could in turn be strengthened by targeted investments in organizations and activities which support the development of human capital as well as use of the NIF to support commercial linkages among Arctic nations, though this role must be coordinated with the work of Trade Commissioner Service.

8.1.3 Alignment with Federal Roles and Responsibilities

Finding 4:
The current division of roles and responsibilities between GoC stakeholders, with DFAIT providing strategic direction for the advancement of Canada's AFP, is generally considered appropriate.

The Summative Evaluation of the Northern Dimensions of Canada's Foreign Policy (hereinafter Summative Evaluation - 2005) called for a strengthened role for OGDs and territorial governments in support of the Canada's AFP. DFAIT acted on this recommendation, yielding policy leadership on technical matters to OGDs where the subject matter expertise resides. There is a general consensus among GoC stakeholders that the right OGDs, several of whom chair AC Working Groups, are engaged in the right forums.

Another outcome of the Summative Evaluation - 2005 was the creation of the Arctic Council Advisory Committee (ACAC) which brings together domestic stakeholders (federal, territorial, and PPs) to develop positions of common interest. In addition to the ACAC, there is the AC Core Group, which consists of representatives from six OGDs, the Canadian representatives of each of the six AC Working Groups, as well as representatives from the territorial governments. Its mandate is to facilitate coordination of Canadian approaches to AC issues across the federal government and in concert with territorial governments.

Most domestic stakeholders conveyed the view that there are structures in place to support effective engagement and dialogue and that they work reasonably well. Though the creation of the ACAC has been welcomed by territorial governments, representatives thereof have at times called for direct bilateral discussions between the federal government and the governments of the territories. Further, representatives from the territorial governments have conveyed a desire for a stronger voice at the AC, in part based on the example of Greenland/Denmark6. Additionally, several provinces have jurisdictions that extend to the high north and encompass people represented by the PPs. With provinces turning their attention to the North, as evidenced by the recent release of Quebec's Plan Nord, there may be a need to include provincial representatives on the ACAC going forward.

With the statement on Canada's Arctic foreign policy setting out Canada's strategic priorities in the region, DFAIT must now elaborate a multi-year plan which clearly spells out Canada's immediate and intermediate priorities and objectives, targets, resource requirements (including the use of the NDF), and the roles and responsibilities of domestic stakeholders in contributing to the realization of those objectives.

8.2 Achievement of Expected Outcomes

8.2.1 Take a strong leadership role in AC affairs domestically and internationally

Finding 5:
Canada has demonstrated strong leadership at the AC, particularly on the human dimension of Canada's AFP and the environment, made possible in no small measure by NDF support to the PPs and AC Working Groups. Continued leadership will be contingent on renewed efforts to develop policy and align programming therewith.

Canada has demonstrated strong policy and programming leadership at the AC, particularly with respect to the active participation of the Arctic's indigenous people (PPs). Canada has been at the forefront in shaping AC policy on health issues in northern communities (NDPH), climate change (SDWG's "Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Arctic"), and security and public safety (Arctic Security Group and the recent signing of the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement). Further, Canada has, through CICAR, led in the recent development of an AC Communications Strategy and Guidelines and Canada's SAO is leading on the development of criteria for observer status and roles relating thereto for non-Arctic nations.

NDF funding has enabled and enhanced the capacity of the AAC, GCI and ICC to participate in top-level meetings both internationally and domestically thereby allowing them to bring a Northern perspective on Arctic policy dialogue on environmental, economic, social, legal and political issues, and to actively support the design and completion of key AC projects. This includes participation in ACAC and SAO meetings, input into the PAME, SDWG, CAFF and EPPR, and contribution to major Canadian priorities at the AC such as AMSA and the Oily Waste Management Project.

NDF resources have mainly been used to support general operational costs. NDF resources, for example, were used by the SDWG Secretariat to cover the costs of professional fees, travel to meetings, website technical services, office supplies, and publication of SDWG reports. NDF resources allocated to the PPs were also largely used to cover salary/benefits, travel and attendance at meetings/conferences of members/leaders of PP organizations.

The ability of the PPs to fully contribute to policy dialogue in AC forums remains encumbered by ongoing capacity (technical, financial, human) challenges. Thes challenges further encumber the ability of PPs to undertake domestic outreach and engagement, which is critical to delivering on their advocacy mandates. One exception to this has been the ICC's Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium in October 2008, which was the first AC project conceived, organized and delivered by a PP organization.

Canada faces a wide variety of mid and long-term policy issues, many of which have a direct bearing on the AC and its future operations. MDA, in response, has developed a work plan to address these outstanding issues. Though the resources implications have yet to be determined, it is widely understood that to make good on the plan will require additional resources to support policy development. While the work plan is a positive step, consideration should also be given to the potential role of the NDF to support policy positions once formulated. Realizing the objectives of the work plan, plus determining the role of the NDF in support of policy positions, will be critical for Canada if it is to maintain its leadership role at the AC.

Finding 6:
The NDF has contributed to Canada's active participation in four of the AC's six Working Groups, namely the PAME, SDWG, CAFF and EPPR. Canada also led or co-led a number of key Working Group initiatives, notably the AMSA and the Oily Waste Management Program.

A wide range of Canadian-led and co-led initiatives have been successfully carried out in the AC. Initiatives in support of Canada's northern agenda that were endorsed at the 2006 AC Ministerial meeting and executed by the Working Groups between 2006 and 2010 include climate change adaptation activities, International Polar Year, the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, Trans-boundary Air Pollution and Impacts on Arctic Peoples project, ArcticStat, the Regional Program of Action on Land-based Sources of Marine Pollution research and monitoring, the Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment, the Arctic Ocean Review, and the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) project through the aegis of PAME.

MDA has focused its funding on four of the AC's six Working Groups: EPPR, CAFF, PAME and SDWG. The main output of the EPPR that was prioritized in 2006 and co-led by Canada was the Arctic Oily Waste Management Program. Similarly, NDF funds allowed Canada to play an active role in the CAFF's Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program and the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment. The NDF has contributed between 20% and 25% of the operational and support costs of the SDWG Secretariat, which is located in Canada, since 2006/07. Canada was also the chair of the PAME Working Group between 2007 and 2009, during which it supported the delivery of the AMSA, the most significant output at the 2009 AC Ministerial. MDA's Performance Measurement Framework reports claim that Canada took the lead on the AMAP's Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment. However, no NDF funds were allocated to the AMAP Working Group between FYs 2006/07 and 2009/10.

Through the regular convening of ACAC and AC Core Group meetings, the participation and consultation in AC Working Groups of Canadian PPs has been facilitated by the NDF. The AAC was heavily involved in the Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment, the GCI established technical working groups to focus particularly on the SDWG and PAME, and the ICC provided significant expertise and input into the project work of the SDWG, AMAP and PAME. The ability of PPs to similarly contribute in a technical capacity to the working groups will require additional capacity building efforts.

8.2.2 Engage bilaterally with other countries on Canada's AFP Priorities

Finding 7:
Events, initiatives and projects organized using the NIF have provided a low-cost, high-impact means of promoting Canada's AFP interests in other Arctic nations and developing and strengthening linkages with international circumpolar stakeholders. The themes and purposes of NIF projects, however, have been highly variable, and reporting has been inconsistent across circumpolar missions.

The NIF has been used for a variety of outreach events in circumpolar nations to promote Canada's Northern interests, expand and broaden Canada's AFP network and develop and strengthen linkages between Northern peoples, academics, scientists, private sector representatives, government officials, non-governmental organizations and media outlets.

Many NIF projects have focused on Northern and aboriginal culture e.g., MOSCO's "Culture on Cloth" exhibition of Inuit tapestries in 2008 and RKJVK's showcasing of Northern Canadian films and filmmakers at a film festival in 2009. Most NIF initiatives, however, have sought to engage stakeholders and strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation on Northern issues of common interest, notably climate change adaptation in the North, the human dimension of Northern economic development, International Polar Year (2007/08), sustainable development of Arctic oil and gas, Arctic science and research, and changes to the lifestyles of Northern indigenous peoples. Common types of events were academic conferences, journalists' visits, internet outreach projects that connected Northern peoples across countries and presentations by Canadian embassy officials.

NIF projects and events often garnered significant media attention. For example, the "Culture on Cloth" exhibit generated media coverage that reached an estimated audience of one million people. The NIF was also successful in terms of the number of Northern stakeholders reached. In 2006, MOSCO developed and published a 22-page brochure in Russian, French and English that explained the Canada-Russia Northern relationship, while a 2008 ArcticNet presentation organized by ANCOR and WSHDC that featured Université Laval's Martin Fortier reached 40 industry and state and federal government stakeholders in Alaska and improved relations with the State of Alaska Climate Change Working Group.

Although the NIF allows a wide range of Northern audiences and stakeholders to be engaged at little cost, the theme and purpose of the NIF has been interpreted inconsistently across missions. MDA releases Guidelines for approval of NIF projects each year that focus on key annual themes. The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) found that in years past, the themes were often carried over from year to year, and were so broad in articulation that many Northern outreach activities could be interpreted to be in support of Canada's Arctic foreign policy. The old Guidelines allowed for considerable leeway in approval of NIF projects. The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) also found that mission reporting on the NIF had been inconsistent, with some confusion among embassies regarding the scope and purpose of the NIF. In response to these findings, MDA and CICAR have developed more focused guidelines for missions. The new guidelines for the NIF and the recent development of an advocacy strategy are bringing greater strategic focus to the NIF and coherence.

The recent creation of a regional fund ($25K) to encourage the development of multi-mission initiatives has been enthusiastically welcomed by both Arctic and non-Arctic missions as a means of leveraging the resources of different missions and enhancing impact. The Regional Trade and Advocacy Project, which profiled Canadian renewable energy technology was cited as a good example of an initiative that involved several missions and engaged the government of the Yukon.

Finding 8:
The NDF has placed particular emphasis on Canada's bilateral relationship with Norway with the launching in 2006 of the Canada-Norway Bilateral Dialogue, which reflects the mutual interests and common desires of Canada and Norway to address challenges facing the Arctic. It has been productive and useful in enhancing bilateral Arctic policy dialogue and coordination in thematic areas.

Over 60 scientists, policymakers, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders interested in strengthening circumpolar cooperation came together in 2006, where they agreed to hold the Canada-Norway Bilateral Dialogue annually and to focus on two topics: Sustainable Development of Oil and Gas and Arctic Climate Change. The Dialogue was expanded to include private sector representatives in 2007 and led to the negotiation of a bilateral MOU for cooperation on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Since then, the dialogue has added impetus to other areas of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries on climate change adaptation, ocean management and science and energy.

NDF funds have also enabled a whole-of-government approach in the Canada-Norway Bilateral Dialogue. The NDF has been used to cover the travel, living expenses and attendance at conferences of PP members and thematic experts from OGDs. NDF monies allocated to the Dialogue have increased each year since 2006/07 until 2009/10, itself indicative of the usefulness and impact of the initiative.

Finding 9:
The NDF also placed extra emphasis on Canada's relations with the European Union which has yielded dividends.

Diplomatic engagement (CICAR in conjunction with BREU) with the EU-Arctic Forum - an EU Parliamentary group providing input into the EU Arctic policy process - has been successful in educating the EU Parliament on Canada's Arctic priorities and in garnering some buy-in to elements thereof, particularly with respect to the values and interests of Arctic indigenous people and the extensive existing legal framework for the management of the region. The EU has also backed away from previous calls for an Antarctic-like treaty for the Arctic region, which would be inconsistent with Canada's Arctic foreign policy priorities. Further, a draft report produced by the EU entitled "A Sustainable EU Policy for the High North," makes several favorable references Canada's Northern Strategy.

NDF support to the EU Northern Dimensions of Public Health and Social Well-Being (NDPHS) project facilitated the active involvement of partner countries, the holding of various meetings and conferences for the NDPHS's working groups, the enhancement of the Partnership's visibility, the launching of NDPHS coordination and communication tools, the creation of an NDPHS website and the development of TORs for the Partnership's Working Groups on HIV/AIDS, Primary Health Care, Prison Health and Social Inclusion, Healthy Lifestyles and Work Ability.

MDA provided funding for the NDPHS's in 2006/07, 2007/08, and 2008/09 while Health Canada monitored the use of the funds. Over the years Health Canada's financial contribution to the program has increased and is expected to assume full carriage of the program in the near future.

Finding 10:
The NDF has placed particular bilateral emphasis on Russia through its funding of the DIAND Russia Indigenous Governance projects and the Canada-Russia Arctic North Working Group (ANWG). NDF funds allowed Canada to engage Russian business groups, NGOs, academics, indigenous peoples and other Northern stakeholders in cooperation on a range of Arctic issues of common concern.

The meeting of the Canada-Russia ANWG in 2006 resulted in the signing of a MoU on Arctic transportation between Krasnoyarsk Krai (province) and Manitoba. It also prioritized the formation of a Canada-Russia Business Summit and an Arctic Chamber of Commerce, the development of a Canada-Russia inventory of tradeable Northern goods and services and the sharing of best practices in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Although the Russians failed to host the 2007 meeting of the ANWG due to government personnel changes, a MoU between INAC and its Russian counterpart on Northern Cooperation was negotiated and Canada and Russia released a joint statement on Arctic cooperation. In 2008/09, however, broader cooperation between Canada and Russia on Arctic issues suffered when Russia failed to name a co-chair to the ANWG. The ANWG has therefore made only limited progress in strengthening Canada's bilateral relationship with Russia. As a result, the funds that MDA had planned to disburse in support of the ANWG on a yearly basis were often not disbursed.

Canada's bilateral relationship with Russia has benefited from INAC's Russia Indigenous Governance projects, to which the NDF contributes. Conducted under the 1992 Canada-Russia Agreement on Cooperation in the Arctic and the North and in support of the ANWG, INAC was able to negotiate a MoU with Russia's Ministry of Regional Development. The MoU covered a wide range of bilateral issues of mutual interest, including corporate social responsibility, the enhancement of commercial ties, northern policy development, aboriginal policy, Northern economic and social development, the promotion of Northern business and investment, scientific monitoring and research, the development of a module to train aboriginal community leaders in CSR, and the establishment of a Northern Network of Chambers of Commerce. The ANWG and INAC Indigenous Governance projects are both significant for the strengthening of Canada-Russia relations on the Arctic and the advancement of Canada's second and fourth AFP priorities, Northern economic development and devolution of Arctic governance, respectively.

8.2.3 Support Canada-Based Permanent Participants and northern-focused organizations /institutions to participate in circumpolar policy, including through capacity building activities

Finding 11:
While the NDF is a significant source of support for Canada-based PPs to participate in circumpolar policy, there is only some evidence that PPs have developed enhanced longer-term institutional capacity as a result of NDF funding.

NDF monies are allocated specifically to enable PP participation in AC activities and only indirectly enhance their institutional capacity. NDF disbursements are mainly used for the PPs' general operational costs, salary/benefits and travel/attendance at Arctic meetings/conferences, especially considering the difficulty and expense of travel, operations and communications in the North.

The AAC and GCI have struggled to find alternative sources of funding, and would likely be unable to operate without NDF support. In the case of the GCI, NDF monies essentially enable a single employee to run the organization and attend conferences. The ICC, however, has managed to secured funding from and partnerships with an array of other organizations, and has developed some scientific expertise and institutional capacity. ICC's convening of the Arctic Indigenous Languages Symposium in 2008 marked the first time a PP conceived, organized and delivered an AC project.

In addition to the regular annual contributions to the ICC, DFAIT has provided support to both the International ICC General Assembly in Nuuk, Greenland, and a subsequent Inuit Leaders' Summit on Resource Development in Ottawa. The General Assembly brings together Inuit from around the Circumpolar world every four years to elect its executive, and strategically plan for the priorities of ICC. One of the outcomes of the General Assembly meeting was a proposal from ICC for a summit on resource development to discuss the challenges and opportunities and strategic positioning related to resource development, in areas that have an impact on Inuit culture and lifestyle. Funding to these events assisted the organization to developing its capacity to participate in other circumpolar policy dialogues.

The Indigenous Peoples Secretariat (IPS), to which the NDF has provided funds, has shown some indications of institutional capacity development. It developed a communications strategy for PPs and redesigned its website to make it more user-friendly for aboriginal people in 2006/07, assisted in the preparation and distribution of materials and articles for SAO/AC/Ministerial meetings throughout the FY 06/07-09/10 period, and moved into the area of training PP staff in organization communications in 2008/09. This serves to demonstrate that, not only has the IPS enhanced its own institutional capacity, but this enhancement has indirectly increased the collaboration cum communication between and capacity of the other PPs. Although the IPS is charged, in part, with providing support to the PPs, it is widely regarded by Canadian PPs as too remote and disconnected with their priorities. It is thought that the IPS is in need of an institutional capacity development plan to better serve the needs of the PPs.

Coordination and collaboration between all three PPs and the GoC in the past few years has been significantly strengthened, with regular consultation on AC activities and issues. All three PPs have also indicated their priorities in terms of partnership with the GoC and developed communications plans with the help of the IPS. However, only the ICC has developed a strategic plan. In general, the institutional capacity of PPs remains an area of concern.

Finding 12:
The UArctic has made progress in enhancing enrolment and graduation rates, developing curriculum, and reducing its dependence on DFAIT funding. However, the value of UArctic activities supported by the NDF are unclear, especially regarding capacity development of Northern youth and relevance to Canada's AFP.

All three UArctic colleges (NAC, Aurora College and Yukon College), as well as the University of Saskatchewan's Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies (BSC) program, have seen increases in enrolment and graduation numbers since 2006/07, including in online education. In 2008, Canadian participation in UArctic circumpolar studies was second only to Finland. Graduates of Administration and Management programs at NAC increased from 8 in 2005 to 17 in 2008, while Yukon College saw an increase in graduates in the same program from 12 in 2005 to 33 in 2008. Graduates at Aurora College remained unchanged at 35 between 2005 and 2008. Almost all of the students of the University of Saskatchewan's UArctic BSC program were from the provincial and territorial Norths. However, Yukon College courses have failed to attract a proportional number of First Nations students.

The NDF has supported the development of a number of programs, courses and curriculums that are focused on developing the capacity of Northerners to meet the future challenges facing the Arctic. The largest of these is the BSC offered by the University of Saskatchewan, for which NDF funding in 2006 provided for preparation for the annual UArctic Council meeting, curriculum development in Northern Policy and Governance, participation in thematic academic networks and facilitation of online course offerings. The UArctic Administration and Management programs offer students at the three northern colleges the option of taking an advanced emphasis in Aboriginal Public Administration, Environmental Impact Assessment, Northern Policy and Governance and Arctic Climate Change Adaptation, all of which align with Canada's AFP priorities.

NDF funds, however, were largely used to pay for the salaries, benefits, travel and attendance at meetings of professors, teachers and college administrators responsible for developing, coordinating and administering these programs. NDF in this sense has played an important role in helping to put the academic structures for Northern capacity development in place, but much less instrumental in facilitating Northern youth involvement in these academic institutions.

Since it is unclear that NDF funds have been effective in advancing Output Three, NDF support to UArctic partners has been decreasing since 2006. INAC has been playing a larger role in support thereof. With education falling within the proper jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, there is an expectation that a greater share of the resources allocated to support the UArctic should come from the provinces and territories. This said, an INAC study recommended that DFAIT continue to contribute funds to the creation of a non-profit UArctic consortium to develop university-level education in Canada's Northern territories. While MDA's focus remains to develop the capacity of young people and Northerners to contribute to Arctic policymaking both domestically and internationally, it is questionable whether operational support to academic institutions is the most appropriate and effective way to achieve this objective.

Finding 13:
NDF funded IISD Circumpolar Young Leaders (CYL) Program has increased the opportunity of Northern youth to participate in the Arctic policy dialogue and enhanced the capacity of Northerners to meet the challenges of the future, however other youth oriented initiatives have not fulfilled their promise.

The CYL Program has enabled Northern youth to work in Northern-focused organizations, participate in AC, SAO and Ministerial meetings and develop both personal (language skills, insight into Northern issues and culture) and professional (international work experience, full-time employment, education opportunities, networking) skills. Despite difficulties with recruitment in 2007/08, the Program has provided internships for between 3 and 6 Canadian youth per year, expanding to include participants from Southern Canada in 2008/09. Many former participants in the CYL have continued their work in Arctic communities and on Arctic issues in the academic and policymaking spheres, including a graduate from the program that joined MDA.

In January 2008, the decision was made at the ACAC to include youth delegates in the ACAC Visioning Session, which resulted in the creation of the Canadian Youth Delegates to the Arctic Council program. The program was envisaged as a training/capacity building opportunity for youth interested in and involved with circumpolar issues. Support included: a two day orientation session in Ottawa; pairing with PPs and territories; and; funding for travel and stipends/honoria. Youth delegates lauded the learning opportunity. While PPs applauded the program's intent, and thus an initiative worthy of continued support, it was felt that a more structured approach was required to fulfill its promise. Further, while the Northern Youth Abroad Program, which provided young northerners, and in particular indigenous northerners, exposure to travel to other parts of the world, was no doubt enriching to those who participated, it is not immediately obvious how this program contributes to Canada's AFP.

8.2.4 Promote a higher profile for AFP domestically

Finding 14:
While the objective of enhancing the profile of Canada's AFP domestically has certain merit, it is unclear how the NDF activities supported under Output Four actually contribute to this objective.

MDA performed a significant role in developing the statement on Canada's arctic foreign policy, planning its release, and promoting it broadly post-release. MDA proactively planned a wide distribution of the AFP to partners, stakeholders, and DFAIT's missions abroad in an effort to raise the profile of the GoC's priorities for the Arctic. Almost a year later, there continues to be significant demand for copies of the AFP.

Most of the NDF's expenditures under Output Four, however, supported academic research, exchanges and conferences on circumpolar issues. This included research support for DFAIT's Oceans Law section to provide a legal analysis of the Beaufort Sea Boundary and other Canadian sovereignty issues, contributions to an Arctic Security conference at the University of Manitoba in 2008 and a Canadian Circumpolar Institute Sovereignty Paper, and the Arctic Scholarship Program, which provides financial support for graduate students writing about Canada's international Arctic priorities. While, the Arctic Scholarship Program has been quite successful in supporting the development of Arctic scholarship, it is not apparent how it contributes to the enhancement of the profile of Canada's AFP, especially to domestic and Northern audiences. Arguably, the Arctic Scholarship Program is more closely aligned with Output Three.

Other Output Four projects, such as the March 2008 outreach mission that brought HOMs from Canadian missions in circumpolar nations to Nunavut and the 2010 HOMs visit to the Yukon and NWT, provide a direct opportunity for GoC Arctic representatives to acquire first-hand knowledge of life in the North. Although the visits were reported to have generated media attention and allowed HOMs to meet with stakeholders in the territories, it is unclear how this project contributes to a higher profile for Canada's AFP.

The NDF's provision of Federal Council dues to Nunavut, the Yukon and the NWT, while modest, does not demonstrate the promotion of DFAIT's circumpolar perspectives and activities and GoC interests in the Councils. The purpose and usefulness of these NDF-funded Council dues is unclear.

There is general confusion among stakeholders as to what the purpose of and criteria for Output Four actually are. The fourth Output seems to be a "catch-all" category under which a variety of projects and activities fall. Some initiatives, such as the Arctic Scholarship Program, are more suitable for Output Three, while others, such as the HOM visits to the North, are more suited to Output Two. This ambiguity indicates a need to clarify the strategic direction of Output Four.

Finding 15:
There is an increased awareness of and interest in Arctic and circumpolar issues among the Canadian public. However, increased awareness of and interest in the Arctic can be explained by developments other than the NDF.

The recent Top of the World Report demonstrates that, more than ever, Canadians view issues affecting its Arctic frontier as a priority. Like other Arctic issues, Canada's AFP has seen an increase in awareness and interest in recent years.

MDA performance indicators for Output Four include number and length of visits to the DFAIT Circumpolar website and range of and media generated on outreach/networking activities. Circumpolar website visits, from both domestic and international internet users, have seen a moderate rise since 2006 and NDF outreach activities have generated notable media attention. MDA reports that improvements to the circumpolar website, such as the creation of Webvignettes in 2008, add a unique Northern aspect to the website and foster a higher profile for Canada's AFP.

Increased awareness of and interest in the Arctic can be attributable to a number of other developments, including the Prime Minister's emphasis on Arctic sovereignty, increased media attention on Arctic issues and increased concern over climate change and its effects on the North, to name a few. It is impossible to tell whether the NDF is leading to a higher profile on the Arctic, or if increased interest in the Arctic (external to NDF) is leading to greater interest in the NDF, the circumpolar website and Canada's AFP. The lack of clarity on performance indicators and what constitutes a "higher profile" reinforces the perception that Output Four has been a "catch-all" category.

8.3 Demonstration of Efficiency and Economy

8.3.1 Governance

Finding 16:
Accountabilities for the NDF are clear.

The Director General of MDD serves as Canada's SAO on the AC and is thus vested with overall responsibility for developing and advancing Canada's bilateral, regional and international positions on environment, energy and sustainable development issues as they pertain to the AC. The Director of MDA, which is housed within MDD and reports directly to the DG thereof, is specifically responsible for policy development and program implementation of Canada's Arctic foreign policy. Accountabilities at this level are therefore clear.

Under MDA's director are two deputy directors, four policy officers and one programming officer, each of whom is assigned a suite of files comprised of themes, organizations and activities. Officers share certain files for back-up purposes. Though shared accountability models engender certain challenges, policy officers conveyed a general level of comfort with the existing configuration of roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

The establishment of the Canadian International Centre for the Arctic Region (CICAR) located in Oslo, Norway, in 2009 as a regional policy centre under the Departmental Transformation Agenda introduced an added complexity to the governance model. Roles and responsibilities between the CICAR, MDA and MDD, particularly on the subject of policy leadership, were initially unclear, though these uncertainties are reported to have been addressed to the satisfaction of all parties.

Finding 17:
As the geopolitical significance of the Arctic continues to rise, strategic oversight by a more formal governance structure could serve to enhance policy and programming coherence.

Though the Director General of MDD and the Director of MDA meet regularly to discuss issues relating to the use of the NDF in support of GoC Arctic priorities, the Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) recommended a more robust governance structure. In response, MDA established a Northern Dimensions Program Advisory Committee charged with strategic planning and project proposal review. Terms of Reference were developed for this body and the Committee convened in July 2010 to agree on the same, but the Committee is reported to have not convened since to perform any strategic planning function. Going forward, MDA should renew efforts to render operational the NDF Advisory Committee.

8.3.2 Policy and Programming Coherence

Finding 18:
The recent removal of MDA, formally (MHC), from the Human Rights and Democracy Bureau (MHD), and its placement under MDD is widely perceived as a positive development which stands to strengthen policy coherence.

The MDD bureau, which is responsible for environment, energy and sustainability issues - all core to the mandate of the AC - is widely perceived as being well aligned with the priorities of Canada's AFP and thus a natural fit for MDA. Further, the competencies housed in MDD are thought to bring added-value to the work of MDA and by extension to the NDF itself. In the run-up to Canada assuming the chair of the AC in 2013, there will be resource requirements that exceed the existing capacity in MDD the bureau. Already 75% of the time of the DG of MDD is dedicated to AFP matters, and this will almost certainly increase in the immediate future.

Finding 19:
Structures are in place to support coordination and policy coherence among Canada's Arctic stakeholders.

The ACAC brings together domestic stakeholders (federal, territorial, and PPs) to develop positions of common interest. In addition to the ACAC, there is the AC Core Group, which consists of representatives from six OGDs, the Canadian representatives of each of the six AC Working Groups, as well as representatives from the territorial governments. Stakeholders have conveyed satisfaction with the performance of these bodies and the opportunity they provide for stakeholder input into policy formulation.

CICAR was established to provide regional level intelligence and analysis to support policy development through its network of circumpolar missions. Envisaged as a "whole-of-government" initiative, CICAR interfaces with and provides intelligence and analysis to GoC stakeholders, including DFAIT HQ divisions, missions and OGDs. Also envisaged as a vehicle for promoting Canada's AFP, CICAR performs an important role bringing coherence to Canada's bilateral and multilateral advocacy efforts. This has been strengthened by the recent development and implementation of an Arctic Advocacy Strategy (2010-2011).

Finding 20:
The recent creation of an Arctic Strategic Policy unit within MDA along with the establishment of CICAR strengthens DFAIT's policy development capacity and coherence, though both are in a nascent phase of implementation.

The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) called for the need to strengthen MDA's policy development capacity and to develop a Division Strategic Plan "to outline policy, programs and designated resources associated with preparing for and implementing actions around (1) New ND Program objectives, (2) the New Oslo centre, and (3) the 2013 Arctic Council Chair."

In response, MDA has developed an Arctic Strategic Work Plan which outlines an ambitious plan of action, structured around three broad themes (governance, public safety and security, and sustainable development) designed to respond to a variety of outstanding policy issues. The Work Plan, though still in draft form, constitutes a significant innovation, providing a framework for effective policy development. While certain actions have been assigned to specific policy officers, tasking, due to capacity constraints remains incomplete and the status of initiatives undetermined.

CICAR too has developed a Work Plan (2009-2010) which outlines an ambitious agenda. Early efforts were directed at establishing the mission network to support the mandate of the centre and recruiting personnel. The network is reported to be firmly in place, and supported by an annual Nordic PERPA meeting, though still encumbered by inadequate technical infrastructure - e.g., lack of video conferencing equipment, secure wiki, access to IMS - to support effective communications and access to information essential to policy development and implementation. CICAR further only became fully staffed in December 2010.

At the time of the site visit to Oslo in December 2010 some uncertainties were reported to exist with regards to the role of CICAR in promoting Arctic trade and investment and science and technology. However, discussions and practical collaboration between CICAR, PERPA and the Trade Commissioner Service resulted in an agreement on roles and responsibilities with respect to trade and investment and science and technology which finds expression in the 2011-2012 Work Plan.

8.3.3 Strategic Planning

Finding 21:
While MDA has made progress in developing and refining its planning instruments, gaps still remain.

A review of MDA financial records revealed consistent variances from year to year between planned vs. actual disbursements. Such variances can be attributed to a number of causes beyond the control of MDA, but as remarked in the Mid-Term Review of NDF (2009) it may also provide evidence of possible weaknesses in strategic planning, budget forecasting and monitoring (see Finding 28). With respect to strategic planning, variances in planned vs. actual disbursements are more likely to occur when there are ambiguities regarding expected outputs. Such ambiguities appear particularly pronounced with respects to Outputs Two, Three and Four.

As remarked earlier, MDA and CICAR have taken concrete steps to strengthen policy and program planning, evidenced by the development of a divisional work plan, albeit still in draft form, and the development and implementation of an advocacy strategy. This said there is no overall strategic plan for the NDF. While elements of the draft Arctic Strategic Work Plan and the Advocacy Strategy speak to several of the Output statements for the NDF, notably Output One and Two respectively, structured approaches to realizing Output Three (capacity building of PPs and Northern organizations) and Output Four (promoting a higher profile for AFP domestically) remain outstanding.

Strengthening the capacity of Canada's PPs and northern organizations to not simply participate in, but contribute to, policy discussions at the AC, as well as conduct domestic and potentially international outreach and advocacy through indigenous peoples circumpolar networks, was cited among all stakeholders as a matter requiring urgent attention. Developing and implementing a more structured and systematic approach to capacity building may require additional resources and multi-year funding authority, which the NDF currently does not enjoy. Though engendering a high degree of risk, which would have to be carefully managed, it is an option that warrants consideration.

8.3.4 Program Management

Finding 22:
Program resources dedicated to the management of the NDF are in need of review to ensure effective comptrollership.

Although NDF Terms and Conditions provide for Vote 1 (Operating) costs, cuts to the program following Strategic Review 1 resulted in virtually no funds available to support the administration of the NDF. Resources to support the administration of the program are taken from the Division's A-base allocation and vested in, for all practical purposes, one program officer, who, in addition to the NDF, is responsible for divisional finances, divisional records management, youth engagement, territorial engagement, domestic outreach, and ACAC and Arctic Core Group operational support. The burden is unsustainable.

Finding 23:
MDA has refined its criterion for project selection which should enhance transparency and accountability though the system is in a nascent phase of implementation.

The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) remarked on the need for MDA to develop a more systematic approach to project review and selection. To this end, MDA has developed a new project proposal template for proponents and approval criterion. This said the Northern Dimensions Program Advisory Committee, which is charged with reviewing project proposals, has not convened to perform this function.

MDA, in conjunction with CICAR, has developed new guidelines for the allocation and use of the NIF, both regional and mission specific, which should support alignment with priorities and enhance transparency and accountability. Project proposals from missions are jointly reviewed by MDA, CICAR, and MDD.

Finding 24:
MDA has made some progress in instituting an integrated financial and records management system, though work remains to be done to render the system operational.

The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) remarked on the need for MDA to develop an integrated financial and program records management system. To this end, MDA has recently adopted InfoBank (RDIMS) as its electronic platform for records management. Although progress has been made developing the architecture to support the new electronic records management system, at the time of writing, the folders remain largely unpopulated with data.

Financial and program data continues to be housed in separate data repositories. Project files (hard copies), apart from the Contribution Agreement and Year-End Reports, contain for the most part no other information. An undertaking made by MDA to develop a standard checklist of information and key milestones for each file remains unfulfilled. These deficits deprive management of important program information to support effective comptrollership.

Finding 25:
The new Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments requires a formal risk management strategy which will have to be developed before the terms and conditions can be renewed.

The Results-Based Management and Accountability Framework (2006) for the NDF contains a risk assessment, but not a risk mitigating strategy. Though this was not a requirement when the current NDF terms and conditions were approved, it is now under the new Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments. In response to evolving Treasury Board requirements, MDA has begun to introduce elements of risk management in its suite of management tools, notably in its new project proposal template. However, a more robust and comprehensive risk management strategy will need to be developed before the NDF terms and conditions can be renewed.

Finding 26:
The Performance Monitoring and Results Reporting Framework is inadequate. Performance indicators are in need of adjustment, reporting templates need to be developed, and more resources committed to support this function.

Existing performance indicators are not always relevant or well aligned with NDF's Output statements. This is particularly pronounced with respect to Outputs Three and Output Four. This is in part due to ambiguities around the output articulations themselves. While Output Three clearly has a capacity development focus, indicators of performance are confined to evidence of PP engagement in AC activities and financial sustainability. Output Four reads like a communications activity, but is understood at MDA to involve domestic outreach and engagement. The indicators correspond to neither.

The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) remarked on the need for MDA to develop reporting templates and guidelines for funding recipients to improve performance and results reporting. In response, MDA undertook to "develop a comprehensive suite of tools and templates for full program cycle to be provided to Permanent Participants and other funding recipients," however these tools and templates remain works-in-progress.

Effective performance monitoring and results reporting is further undermined by the lack of resources available in the division and dedicated to this purpose. Beyond A-base funding to the support the salary of the individual charged with administering the NDF, there is no allocation from the NDF to support performance monitoring and results reporting. Again, should MDA adopt a more robust approach to institutional capacity building, there will arise a concomitant need to intensify monitoring and results reporting.

8.3.5 Resource Mobilization

Finding 27:
The NDF has been very effective in leveraging the resources of other partners, thereby enhancing impact.

The NDF has been very successful in obtaining co-funding or sharing of resources from partners. Indeed, rarely has the NDF been the sole source of financial support for a given organization, initiative or activity, and is more commonly used in conjunction with other funding sources. In many instances, money made available through the NDF was reported to have played a catalytic role in garnering financial support from other organizations for a given initiative or activity. Interlocutors remarked on the importance NDF contributions have on raising the profile of Canada's AFP and projecting influence.

The quantum of leveraging is difficult to determine as there has been no systematic tracking of the contributions of other organizations to NDF sponsored organizations, initiatives or activities. However, with MDA's new project proposal template, project proponents are now asked to identify other sources of funding. This will facilitate better reporting and comptrollership.

Finding 28:
Variances in planned vs. actual expenditures over the study period with respect to the NIF can in part be attributed to the planning and disbursement cycle.

A review of planned vs. actual disbursements for the NIF, evidenced in Table 1, though different across missions, indicates persistent challenges in making use of the fund. Variance between planned vs. actual disbursements range from 32.5% under spending in 2008/2009 to a 49% over spending in 2009/2010. While a cancelation or addition of a single event or initiative can significantly throw a budget off balance, many missions reported that delays in the disbursement of funds following approvals were a factor. The gap not only magnifies the risk of missed opportunities during the first quarter of the fiscal year, the remaining condensed time frame for implementing projects can lead to rushed planning and execution.

8.3.6 Human Resources

Finding 29:
Division resources dedicated specifically to the administration of the NDF are inadequate.

As remarked in Finding 26, there is no budget within the NDF to support planning, performance monitoring or results reporting. Resources to support these function come from the Division's A-base budget and vested in, for all practical purposes, one program officer who has other responsibilities besides the NDF. While the NDF, in its current configuration and budget, could be managed by one individual, it would require that person to be wholly dedicated to the Fund.

As remarked earlier, MDA has developed an ambitious Work Plan to respond to many outstanding policy issues needed to advance Canada's AFP. While it is understood that developing policy positions on the range of issues identified in the Work Plan will have resource implications for the Division, the quantum has yet to be determined. Though MDA has a Human Resource Plan, it has not been reviewed for several years. Such a review is required.

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9.0 Conclusion

The Arctic today occupies a level of prominence in both the popular imagination of Canadians and Canadian foreign policy that it has never enjoyed before, evidenced by the results of recent study Rethinking the Top of the World commissioned by the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation and the Munk School of Global Affairs and the GoC's new Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy which affirms the Arctic's place among the GoC's top foreign policy priorities. Since 2001 the NDF has played an important role in supporting Canada's AFP through its varied funded initiatives, both directly and in conjunction with other GoC partners, and will likely be called upon to play an even more robust role in support of Canada's AFP in the immediate future as Canada prepares to assume the chair of the AC in 2013.

Over the study period (2005 - 2010) Canada, through the NDF, has demonstrated strong leadership at the AC, both through its continued support to the AC PPs and the AC Working Groups. Such support has strengthened the voices of the Arctic's northern and indigenous people, increased awareness and understanding of how changes in the Arctic (environmental, economic, and social) impact on these populations, and contributed to the adoption of common approaches to address challenges relating thereto. Canada, through the NDF, has scored notable success in strengthening ties with its circumpolar neighbors (e.g., Norway and Russia) and in garnering the support of the EU on elements of Canada's AFP.

Canada's continued leadership on Arctic issues, however, is contingent on renewed efforts to strengthen DFAIT's policy development and programming capacity. Canada faces a wide range of pressing policy issues relating to the AC that will require research and extensive consultations with stakeholders to develop common policy positions that will tax the capacity of existing departmental human resources. There is evidence that the Fund's current programming profile could benefit from adjustments to better align investments with current GoC priorities for the Arctic. This speaks to a need to review the existing program architecture and to identify areas where NDF resources can best be used to support identified priorities. The newly constituted Northern Dimension Program Advisory Committee is well placed to perform this role.

While this evaluation notes improvements in program planning, it also notes weaknesses, particularly with respect to objectives of strengthening the capacity of the PPs and other northern organizations to participate in circumpolar policy dialogue. NDF assistance to the PPs has largely been in the form of ongoing operation support which, though critical to their effective participation in Arctic fora, has been less effective in developing the capacity of the PPs. Addressing this deficit will require a more strategic and structured approach to institutional capacity building, an approach which may require multi-year funding authority.

With regard to the objective of raising the profile of Canada's AFP domestically, a lack of clarity concerning the performance indicators for this objective led to broad interpretations of the output statement by program administrators resulting in a mix of initiatives, some of which have contributed to an enhancement of the AFP domestically with many others being focused on domestic outreach and engagement which was perceived by program administrators as a higher priority. Going forward, the objective, and its associated performance indicators, should be clarified.

The Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009) identified a number of areas for improvement in the technical and administrative infrastructure supporting the management of the NDF. While this evaluation notes that some progress has been made in addressing these areas, further measures are recommended to strengthen comptrollership. Although progress towards instituting an integrated financial and records management system, the system remains only partially operational. While MDA, in conjunction with CICAR, has developed and instituted a more rigorous and formal system of proposal review and selection, the development of reporting templates for project proponents remains incomplete.

A review of the NDF's Performance Measurement Framework is required in light of expected modifications to the output statements and related performance indicators. Additionally, insufficient resources have been allocated to support effective performance monitoring and results reporting. Further, the NDF is not supported by a risk management strategy in conformity with current TBS policy. Finally, there is a need to review the current division of roles and responsibilities within the Division to strengthen strategic direction from the management team and to ensure that human resources dedicated to the administration of the NDF are commensurate with demands of the task.

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10.0 Recommendations

Based on the foregoing analysis, the following recommendations are presented for consideration:

Recommendation 1:
MDA should review the current output/outcome articulations for the NDF with the aim of bringing greater clarity to these statements and alignment with declared priorities and objectives.

This evaluation found that the NDF has been responsive to the needs and priorities of the GoC and Arctic stakeholders. During the review period, however, both GoC foreign policy priorities and the needs of stakeholders have evolved, thereby calling for a review and update of some of the output/outcome articulations in order to provide clear guidance for future programming. This need is particularly pronounced for Output Four.

Associated Findings: 2, 3, 14, 26

Recommendation 2:
MDA should develop engagement strategies for three of the four outcome statements that identify immediate and intermediate goals, target groups, and resources to be allocated in support thereof, including the possible use of multi-year funding for select recipients.

Though an engagement strategy now exists for Output Two, and the elements of a strategy (the draft Divisional Work Plan) for Output One, none exist for either Output Three or Output Four. Should DFAIT choose to renew efforts to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Canada based PPs, this will require a more structured approach to programming which in turn may call for multi-year funding authority. Further, should DFAIT choose to refocus attention on domestic outreach and engagement under Output Four this likewise would benefit from a strategy which clearly defines the objective, the intended audiences to be reached, and the resources to be marshaled in support thereof.

Associated Findings: 2, 3, 5, 14

Recommendation 3:
MDA should review its current Performance Measurement Framework in reference to any changes to the outcome articulations and develop appropriate outputs, immediate and intermediate outcomes and performance indicators relating thereto.

This evaluation found that performance indicators were not always relevant to or well aligned with some of the output statements, thereby frustrating the ability of MDA to tell a performance story which does justice to the program. Going forward, particularly in light of possible modifications to the output statements themselves, performance indicators will need to be reviewed and adjustments made where warranted.

Associated Findings: 26

Recommendation 4:
MDA should review current Divisional roles and responsibilities with respect to the administration of the NDF.

This evaluation found that the human resources currently dedicated to the administration of the NDF are insufficient, thereby placing effective comptrollership at risk. While the NDF could be administered by one program officer that officer would have to be wholly dedicated to the Fund. This in turn would require a redistribution of responsibilities among staff within MDA and attendant redefinition of roles.

Associated Findings: 20, 22, 29

Recommendation 5:
MDA should accelerate efforts to: institute and render operational its electronic records management system (financial and program data); revise project reporting templates and guidelines, and; update its risk management strategy.

While this evaluation notes that progress has been made in addressing several of the technical and administrative deficits identified in the Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009), further work is needed. MDA's electronic records management system (financial and program data) remains only partially functional, owing to the incomplete transfer of data from hard copy to the system. Further, to strengthen the collection of performance data, project reporting templates and guidelines need to be updated and implemented. Finally, the NDF risk management strategy is in need of revision to comply with current TBS requirements.

Associated Findings: 17, 23, 24, 25

Recommendation 6:
MDA should review Divisional resources with the view to ascertaining the appropriate quantum of resources required to respond to growing policy and programming needs.

With the Arctic assuming a greater prominence among Canada's foreign policy priorities, along with the increasing number and complexity of issues relating to the Arctic, the demands on departmental resources have similarly increased and will likely continue to increase with the lead up to Canada assuming the Chair of the AC in 2013. While the draft Divisional Work Plan recently developed by MDA provides some indication of what needs to be done to meet the challenges of the future, the resource implications of its agenda have yet to be quantified. If Canada is to continue and strengthen its leadership role in Arctic affairs, an assessment of the resources needed to achieve its objectives is required.

Associated Findings: 21, 29

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11.0 Management Response and Action Plan

Introduction:

The Evaluation Division (ZIE) has conducted a Summative Evaluation of the Northern Dimension Fund (NDF), which is administered by the Circumpolar Affairs Division (MDA). This evaluation was a precondition for the renewal of the NDF's terms and conditions by Treasury Board, which MDA is in the process of requesting.

The purpose of the evaluation was to assess and report on the relevance and performance of the NDF. MDA has continuously reviewed and adjusted its approach to ensure the fund remains responsive to an ever-changing policy environment and in compliance with Treasury Board policies. MDA commissioned previous reviews of the program in 2005 and 2008.

Departmental response:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs released a Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy in August 2010 that, among other things, committed to projecting Canada's national interests across four main pillars: exercising sovereignty, promoting economic and social development, protecting the Arctic environment, and improving and devolving governance.

The Ministerial statement was further reinforced by the inclusion of "Implementing Canada's Arctic foreign policy to exercise sovereignty in the Arctic" as one of the Department's five policy priorities for the 2011-2012 planning cycle. These priorities were developed by senior management from all branches of the Department, and were subject to thorough discussion at Executive Council. They have also received Ministerial approval.

Finally, the Government once again emphasized that Canada's North is a cornerstone of its agenda in the 2011 Speech from the Throne.

With the foregoing as a backdrop, the Department finds the evaluation of the Northern Dimension Fund to be timely given these recent pronouncements and is pleased with the overall finding from the report that Canada, through the Northern Dimension Fund, has demonstrated strong leadership at the Arctic Council, both through its continued support to its Working Groups and the indigenous Permanent Participants. The Department emphasizes that the Canada-based Permanent Participant organizations provide substantive and important contributions to the Council's overall policy directions and programs. Furthermore, we agree that departmental support has strengthened the voices of the Arctic's northern and indigenous people, increased awareness and understanding of how changes in the Arctic (environmental, economic, and social) impact on these populations, and contributed to the adoption of common approaches to address challenges and opportunities.

The Department takes note that notwithstanding the many successes, Canada's continued leadership on Arctic issues will be contingent on strengthening DFAIT's policy development and programming capacity, particularly as Canada assumes the role of Chair of the Arctic Council beginning in 2013. Furthermore, the Department is fully aware that Canada faces a wide range of pressing policy issues that will tax the capacity of existing departmental human resources, and that a review of the existing program architecture to identify areas where NDF resources can best be used to support identified priorities should be undertaken.

In the following Management Response and Action Plan, MDA outlines its plan to respond to the evaluation's recommendations and address opportunities related to, inter alia: institutional capacity development; domestic outreach and engagement; project planning, performance monitoring and reporting, risk management and records management; and staff roles and responsibilities.

This evaluation has provided a thorough and comprehensive review of the NDF, and, as per the attached Management Response and Action Plan, its findings will be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.

Recommendation 1:

MDA should review the current output/outcome articulations for the NDF with the aim of bringing greater clarity to these statements and alignment with declared priorities and objectives.

This evaluation found that the NDF has been responsive to the needs and priorities of the GoC and Arctic stakeholders. During the review period, however, both GoC foreign policy priorities and the needs of stakeholders have evolved, thereby calling for a review and update of some of the output/outcome articulations in order to provide clear guidance for future programming. This need is particularly pronounced for Output Four.

Associated Findings: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5-15

Demonstrating leadership in the North is a priority for the Government, as noted in Canada’s Northern Strategy released in 2009, and subsequently re-enforced from an international perspective in the 2010 Statement on Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy (AFP). The AFP outlined an ambitious international agenda for the region based on four pillars - exercising sovereignty, promoting economic and social development, protecting the environment, and improving and devolving Northern governance. The NDF has been and continues to be a necessary tool to advance the priorities laid out in the AFP.

The NDF's current output statements are:

  1. Take a strong leadership role in Arctic Council (AC) affairs domestically and internationally.
  2. Engage bilaterally with other countries on Arctic foreign policy priorities.
  3. Support Canada-based Permanent Participants (PPs) and northern-focused organizations/institutions to participate in circumpolar policy, including through capacity building activities.
  4. Promote a higher domestic profile for Canada’s Arctic foreign policy.

As noted in Finding 2, stakeholders considered the NDF's output statements to be responsive to their needs, however, as these statements were developed prior to the release of the Northern Strategy and the AFP, the timing is right to review and, where necessary, realign these with current government priorities and objectives.

As a result, MDA has re-assessed and clarified the NDF's current output statements to ensure that resources are allocated effectively and in accordance with government priorities and objectives, most notably to support the priorities laid out in the AFP. As a result, we intend to submit the following output statements in MDA's submission to Treasury Board to renew the NDF's terms and conditions. These terms and conditions will require Treasury Board approval by March 31, 2012:

  1. Take a strong leadership role in Arctic Council.
  2. Advance Canadian Arctic foreign policy priorities through bilateral/regional/multilateral engagement, as well as outreach and advocacy.
  3. Support Canada-based Permanent Participant organizations (PPs) to participate in circumpolar policy, including through capacity building activities.
  4. Engage with Northern Canadians, including youth, and Northern-focused organizations/institutions, concerning the development and implementation of Canada's Arctic foreign policy.

Please see the response to Recommendation 2 for a further explanation of the above changes.

Key Action for Follow-up:

1. Revision of NDF output statements and continued monitoring to ensure alignment with government priorities and needs.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Revision completed, August 2011. Monitoring ongoing.

2. Inclusion of new output statements in NDF Terms and Conditions in submission to Treasury Board.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Updated Terms and Conditions completed and included in upcoming Treasury Board Submission

Recommendation 2:

MDA should develop engagement strategies for three of the four outcome statements that identify immediate and intermediate goals, target groups, and resources to be allocated in support thereof, including the possible use of multi-year funding for select recipients.

Though an engagement strategy now exists for Output Two, and the elements of a strategy (the draft Divisional Work Plan) for Output One, none exist for either Output Three or Output Four. Should DFAIT choose to renew efforts to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Canada based PPs, this will require a more structured approach to programming which in turn may call for multi-year funding authority. Further, should DFAIT choose to refocus attention on domestic outreach and engagement under Output Four, this likewise would benefit from a strategy which clearly defines the objective, the intended audiences to be reached, and the resources to be marshaled in support thereof.

Associated Findings: 5-15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, and 29

As noted in the response to Recommendation 1, this evaluation has provided MDA with an opportunity to consider the effectiveness of the NDF's current output statements. Following internal consultations, consultations with CICAR, and consultations with INAC, our key departmental partner on Arctic issues, we have revised the NDF's output statements to ensure that resources are allocated effectively and in accordance with government priorities and objectives.

In line with the foregoing, MDA recognizes the need for the development of engagement strategies on three of the output statements which do not currently have one. The development of each of these strategies will not only assist in further clarity, these specific engagement strategies will also serve to more closely align policy and programming activities and increase the effectiveness of NDF programming.

With the revised Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) that is being developed for the NDF, MDA will develop strategies specific to each Output. As the PMF outlines the immediate and intermediate outcomes related to each output statement, we will identify the key target groups for each area and look at the resources available to support each strategy. In some cases, each Output may have a series of strategies (e.g., divided by target groups, goals or specific outputs) or guiding documentation which sets the priorities for areas of engagement.

By revising Output One (Take a strong leadership role in Arctic Council affairs), this output will exclusively focus on Canada’s role with respect to the Arctic Council. All activities of the Permanent Participant Organizations (PPs), most of which were previously captured under Output One, will now be addressed in Output Three. MDA is the primary Government of Canada actor charged with developing Canadian policy and priorities at the Arctic Council. We intend to continue to work with Arctic Council stakeholders and partners in order to consult, exchange information, develop strategies and advance Canadian interests at the Arctic Council.

Canada will also be engaging with key stakeholders and partners (e.g., Territories, OGDs, Northern Canadians and Northern-focused organizations) to assess and determine priorities for Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship in 2013-2015. MDA is developing a workplan for the Arctic Council chairmanship outlining Canada’s immediate and intermediate priorities and strategy. Finally, MDA is in the process of identifying potential resource requirements and will discuss these with senior management. In addition, although DFAIT is not the only department that contributes funding to Arctic Council Working Groups and Task Forces, through the NDF we are able to support those that align with Canada’s Arctic foreign policy priorities. Edits to Output One’s outcomes and performance indicators as part of the renewal of the NDF's Terms and Conditions will also sharpen its focus on current Canadian priorities and objectives at the Arctic Council.

As acknowledged in the evaluation, a strategy has been in place to engage appropriate stakeholders and target groups under Output Two. Although the wording of this output statement has been revised, the revision served to more accurately reflect the work being done in that area. The current strategy under output two is an evergreen document that continues to align well with the output’s intended objectives and outcomes.

Output Three (Support Canada-based Permanent Participant organizations [PPs] to participate in circumpolar policy, including through capacity building activities) was revised to be able to place specific emphasis on the PPs and to work towards stronger engagement as well as capacity building. Although the large majority of funds that we anticipate will be allocated to PPs under this output do not require an engagement strategy (e.g., travel to Arctic Council meetings), other allocations relevant to PP capacity building could benefit from more strategic consideration of goals and benchmarks. As the PPs vary widely in their administrative capabilities and resources, MDA will be working to engage each organization in a discussion specific to their needs and develop a strategy that is specific to each PP organization. MDA will take actions to work towards mechanisms such as the implementation of multi-year funding and shared strategic plans that would outline common goals and objectives. This will require broad consultation with OGDs and the organizations themselves. The work to formulate such strategies will begin in FY 2011/12, with expected full implementation in FY 2012/13.

Output Four (Engage with Northern Canadians, including youth, and Northern-focused organizations/institutions, concerning the development and implementation of Canada's Arctic foreign policy.) was revised to more accurately reflect the types of activities previously carried out under other areas but are well aligned under a single output. This output will allow MDA to continue to engage Canadians in substantive discussion of Canada’s Arctic foreign policy, especially in the lead up to Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship in 2013. Projects developed by universities, NGOs, and think tanks will be considered under this output. Youth-driven or youth-oriented projects will also be eligible and a youth engagement strategy will be developed in the winter of 2011. As noted in Finding 12 of the evaluation, funding of UArctic colleges for administrative or other expenses unrelated to Canada’s AFP should not fall within the realm of the NDF, and such expenses will no longer be eligible under this program.

Key Action for Follow-up:

1. Development of a detailed action plan and further refining of strategies and plans for engagement on Arctic Council issues, particularly in the lead up to and during Canada’s Arctic Council Chairmanship (2013-2015)

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: On-going. Expected plan approval, Spring 2012

2. Consultation with PPs and OGDs on developing and implementing engagement strategies specific to each PP organization.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Throughout 2012, leading up to 2013-15 Chair

3. Work with OGDs, PPs, Territories and other key stakeholders to develop an engagement strategy for specific domestic stakeholders (e.g., youth).

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Spring 2012

Recommendation 3

MDA should review its current Performance Measurement Framework in reference to any changes to the outcome articulations and develop appropriate outputs, immediate and intermediate outcomes and performance indicators relating thereto.

This evaluation found that performance indicators were not always relevant to or well aligned with some of the output statements, thereby frustrating the ability of MDA to tell a performance story which does justice to the program. Going forward, particularly in light of possible modifications to the output statements themselves, performance indicators will need to be reviewed and adjustments made where warranted.

Associated Findings: 22, 23, and 26

MDA is working to improve the clarity and measurability of NDF outcomes. The review and revision of outcome statements with current government objectives and priorities will assist in this regard. Changes to outcomes and their associated performance indicators will be reflected in MDA’s submission to the Treasury Board to renew the NDF's Terms and Conditions. The submission will include an updated Performance Measurement Framework, which requires Treasury Board approval by March 31, 2012.

MDA will also update its program materials, including its project proposal template, NIF planning tool and guidelines, to reflect changes in the NDF's output statements. These templates represent a systematic approach to project selection that is designed to ensure outcomes are both appropriate and measureable. New guidelines for Arctic advocacy, which will inform how the Northern Initiatives Fund is used, will provide similar benefits. MDA will also begin using the newly developed departmental Mission Advocacy Activity Tracker (MAAT) online reporting tool for the NIF. Increased alignment of NDF funding and policy priorities will be facilitated by more active engagement with the program on the part of policy officers. Finally, MDA plans to broaden the membership of its NIF project evaluation and approval committee to include representation from MDA management.

Key Action for Follow-up:

1. Inclusion of new updated outcomes and performance indicators in the NDF Performance Measurement Strategy.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Completed, October 2011

2. Updating of project proposal template.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: To be completed to reflect approved Treasury Board Submission, Winter 2012

3. Implementation of the new Departmental online advocacy activity reporting tool for the NIF.(MAAT)

Responsibility Centre: MDA/CICAR

Time Frame: Completed. Summer 2011

4. Development of new NIF evaluation procedures and expansion of the NIF project evaluation and approval committee.

Responsibility Centre: MDA/CICAR

Time Frame: Completed. September 2011

Recommendation 4

MDA should review current Divisional roles and responsibilities with respect to the administration of the NDF.

This evaluation found that the human resources currently dedicated to the administration of the NDF are insufficient, thereby placing effective comptrollership at risk. While the NDF could be administered by one program officer, that officer would have to be wholly dedicated to the Fund. This in turn would require a redistribution of responsibilities among staff within MDA and attendant redefinition of roles.

Associated Findings: 20, 22, 24, 26, and 29

MDA is addressing its human resource challenge to ensure that the division has the capacity to administer the NDF. Pressures on divisional human resource capacity dedicated to this task has limited the impact of improvements made in other aspects of the program (e.g., development of strategic plans and project guidelines/proposal and reporting templates). The potential for expansion of the program to include new funding mechanisms, such as multi-year funding, is also limited by these pressures. As a result, MDA has been re-assessing roles and responsibilities, but considering the size of the division and the many and increasing demands relating to the Arctic, there will be a challenge in finding the right balance in order to meet all of the division’s priorities. Thus far, policy officers have been tasked with assisting the Program Manager in the development and maintenance of the division’s integrated electronic financial and records management system. Additionally, some routine financial responsibilities are in the process of being reallocated to an administrative assistant, which will allow the Senior Program Manager to focus on the administration of the NDF (e.g., project planning, performance monitoring and reporting, risk management and records management). Finally, the MDA management team will increase their strategic and financial oversight of the NDF to encourage coherence between policy and programming goals and priorities.

Key Action for Follow-up:

1. Reallocation of some routine financial responsibilities from Senior Program Manager to administrative assistant.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Completed, October 2011

2. Increase strategic and financial oversight by Deputy Directors.

Responsibility Centre: MDA Deputy Directors

Time Frame: Ongoing. Commenced September 2011

3. Review of roles and responsibilities in light of shifting priorities and staff turnover.

Responsibility Centre: MDA/CICAR/MDD

Time Frame: Completed, November 2011

Recommendation 5

MDA should accelerate efforts to: institute and render operational its electronic records management system (financial and program data); revise project reporting templates and guidelines, and; update its risk management strategy.

While this evaluation notes that progress has been made in addressing several of the technical and administrative deficits identified in the Mid-Term Review of the NDF (2009), further work is needed. MDA's electronic records management system (financial and program data) remains only partially functional, owing to the incomplete transfer of data from hard copy to the system. Further, to strengthen the collection of performance data, project reporting templates and guidelines need to be updated and implemented. Finally, the NDF risk management strategy is in need of revision to comply with current TBS requirements.

Associated Findings: 22 and 24-26

As acknowledged in Finding 24 of the evaluation, MDA has made significant progress in developing its integrated electronic financial and records management system (InfoBank). The next step in this process is the population of folders with data by policy officers and the Program Manager.

Draft reporting guidelines have already been developed and a new project proposal template is planned. These will improve the effectiveness of the NDF by better aligning funding with priorities, identifying and mitigating risk, leveraging NDF funds, and providing a comprehensive record.

Finally, MDA is on schedule to update the NDF's risk management strategy in accordance with Treasury Board policy and process. The NDF's current risk management framework, which was approved in 2006, is valid until March 31, 2012. As the Policy on Transfer Payments was updated in 2008, MDA's submission to the Treasury Board to renew the NDF's Terms and Conditions will include a new risk management strategy that reflects the 2008 Policy updates. It should also be noted that the possibility of multi-year funding mechanisms to improve PP capacity involves additional risk management considerations. As the PPs vary widely in their administrative capabilities, the implementation of multi-year funding would require individual strategies and agreements tailored to each organization’s risk profile (See response to Recommendation 2: Output 3).

Key Action for Follow-up:

1. Develop NDF Performance Measurement Strategy including a risk management strategy.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Completed, August 2011

2. Develop standard checklist of basic information and key milestones required in each file.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: November 2011

3. Population of program folders.

Responsibility Centre: MDA

Time Frame: Ongoing

Recommendation 6

MDA should review its divisional resources with the view to ascertaining the appropriate quantum of resources required to respond to growing policy and programming needs.

With the Arctic assuming a greater prominence among Canada's foreign policy priorities, along with the increasing number and complexity of issues relating to the Arctic, the demands on departmental resources have similarly increased and will likely continue to increase with the lead up to Canada assuming the Chair of the AC in 2013. While the draft Divisional Work Plan recently developed by MDA provides some indication of what needs to be done to meet the challenges of the future, the resource implications of its agenda have yet to be quantified. If Canada is to continue and strengthen its leadership role in Arctic affairs, an assessment of the resources needed to achieve its objectives is required.

Associated Findings: 1, 2, 21, 26, 27 and 29

As noted, Canada will assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2013 for a period of two years. MDA will develop an assessment of resource requirements for consideration by senior management.

The program currently has Treasury Board authority to disperse $2M annually, but the fund is currently set at $1M. The loss of these resources has had a limiting effect. Additional resources would improve the effectiveness of PP capacity building, NDF audit/administration, and Arctic Council engagement. For example, the establishment of a permanent administrative secretariat and budget for the Arctic Council was agreed to at the May 2011 Ministerial Meeting in Greenland. Canada will need to determine how to fund its share of secretariat expenses (approx. $125k/year).

MDA and CICAR are also reviewing roles and responsibilities of staff in an effort to respond to the growing demands, especially leading to Canada’s chairmanship.

Key Action for Follow-up:

1. MDA is evaluating resource requirements for consideration by senior management.

Responsibility Centre: MDA/MDD/MFM/ Departmental Senior Management

Time Frame: Fall 2011 - Winter 2012

2. Redefining of roles and responsibilities within MDA and CICAR to turn focus towards planning for 2013.

Responsibility Centre: MDA/CICAR/MDD

Time Frame: Completed, November 2011

3. Where feasible, make greater use of interns, co-op students and contractors.

Responsibility Centre: MDA Director and Deputy Directors

Time Frame: Ongoing


Footnotes

1 In addition to Canada, the circumpolar countries, and Arctic Council member states, include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.

2 The Ottawa Declaration, Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council, September 19, 1996.

3 The Iqaluit Declaration 1998, produced as a result of the First Ministerial Meeting of the AC held on September 17-18, 1998.

4 Officially became Iqaluit, Nunavut as of April 1, 1999.

5 Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. "Summative Evaluation of the Northern Dimension of Canada's Foreign Policy." (May 2005), accessed at http://www.international.gc.ca/about-a_propos/oig-big/2005/evaluation/northern_program-programme_nordique.aspx?lang=eng.

6 Greenland has a special status in the Kingdom of Denmark, often leading Denmark to advance for a special role and status for Greenland at the AC.

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Date Modified:
2013-05-03