© Elisabeth Kruger / WWF

WWF Arctic Council Scorecard


Canada, including its Arctic archipelago, holds the largest Arctic landmass; as such, it plays an important role in Arctic management and conservation.

The country has made good progress in several areas, such as designating protected areas in the Arctic, collaborating with neighbouring countries to reduce the impacts of shipping (e.g., by committing to establishing low-impact navigational corridors through the United States-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy and Arctic Leadership); setting stricter regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and acting to adapt to climate change. Canada also continued to contribute to better management of the Arctic environment and regional cooperation to achieve shared conservation goals.

However, given ongoing Arctic oil and gas exploration and increases in marine shipping, Canada will need to balance these developments with greater preparedness for oil spills and efforts to reduce risks to Arctic coastal and marine ecosystems.

N.B. Canada’s Arctic area spans three territories: Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. For the purposes of the Scorecard, some issues of governance and implementation are devolved from the national level to the territorial level. Where appropriate, research was conducted on the respective territories, and their joint performance was taken into consideration for scoring.




See full criteria.


  • Canada continues to designate protected areas in the Arctic, as exemplified by the boundary agreement for a national marine conservation area (NMCA) in Tallurutiup Imanga. Furthermore, it continues to scope its waters for areas that would qualify for NMCAs or marine protected areas (MPAs), such as under the Nunavut Land Use Plan draft. It is considering extending its network of MPAs in Arctic waters (Crit. 2.3.1 and 2.3.2).
  • Canada has performed well in terms of its assessment and inventory of black carbon emissions (Crit. 4.1.1). It has also put in place strong emissions standards for particulate matter for almost all types of diesel engines other than those used in shipping. It plans to propose emissions standards for stationary diesel engines in spring 2019 (Crit. 4.1.2).
  • Provincial and territorial governments play a key role in climate change adaptation in Canada and are supported by a broad suite of federal programs under the 2017 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (Crit. 4.1.3 and 4.2.3).
  • The Canadian government is developing a federal carbon pricing system under which flaring will incur a financial penalty. This is expected to increase pressure on industry to reduce flaring (Crit. 4.1.5).


  • Although Canada has published an Arctic Marine Biodiversity Plan, the plan does not yet include information about specific biodiversity objectives and provisions, and it omits measures that would incorporate resilience and adaptation of biodiversity to climate change (Crit. 1.1.1-2).
  • Despite the multiple policies and plans available, little to no information could be found regarding concrete practices to reduce fisheries bycatch and disturbance to the seabed (Crit. 1.2.1-2).
  • Canada can further improve its efforts to conserve Arctic areas, especially with respect to identifying marine areas of cultural significance (Crit. 2.1.3), assessing the potential impacts of industrial activities on ecologically and biologically significant areas (Crit. 2.1.1), and filling geographic gaps for networks of marine and terrestrial protected areas (Crit. 2.2.2).
  • Canada’s regulations require the completion of strategic environmental assessments before new exploration and/or exploitation activities are approved. However, experts have noted that these assessments are neither sufficiently comprehensive nor specifically adapted to the Arctic environment. These gaps undermine the validity of the assessments’ conclusions (Crit. 3.1.3).
  • Canada has high-level plans that formally cover contingency planning and responses to oil pollution incidents. However, planning at the local level is lacking, such as for sufficient training and spill equipment (Crit. 5.1.1). In addition, Canadian legislation currently permits oil and gas exploration; and while exploitation activities are forbidden in NMCAs, they are not forbidden in other Arctic MPAs, which represents a risk to these areas (Crit. 5.3.1).
  • Despite Canada’s positive performance in reducing black carbon emissions overall, it is not implementing strong regulations to reduce emissions from shipping in the Arctic. Currently, ships in Canada’s Arctic waters may use heavy fuel oils, and emission control areas have not been designated.

Detailed ratings

C Biodiversity

  • Mainstreaming Biodiversity and its Resilience
  • 1/6
  • Sustainable Management of Living Resources and Habitats
  • 3/4
  • Monitoring Biodiversity
  • 3/4
  • Overall Rating
  • 7/14

All ratings for Biodiversity

B Conservation areas

  • Identification of Conservation Areas
  • 5/6
  • Protecting Areas of Ecological Importance
  • 2/4
  • Mechanisms to Safeguard Connectivity
  • 4/6
  • Overall Rating
  • 11/16

All ratings for Conservation areas

A Ecosystem-based Management

  • Environmental Impact Assessments, Strategic Environmental Assessments and Risk Assessments
  • 8/8
  • Assessment of Combined Effects of Multiple Stressors
  • 2/2
  • Arctic State Cooperation in Advancing Implementation of EBM
  • 2/2
  • Overall Rating
  • 12/12

All ratings for Ecosystem-based Management

A Black Carbon and Methane

  • Short-lived Climate Forcers: Black Carbon and Methane Emissions
  • 10/10
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • 4/6
  • Climate Change Observation
  • 2/2
  • Overall Rating
  • 16/18

All ratings for Black Carbon and Methane

A Oil Spills

  • National Action for Preparedness and Response
  • 2/2
  • Oil Spill Monitoring
  • 4/4
  • Oil Spill Prevention
  • 6/8
  • Overall Rating
  • 12/14

All ratings for Oil Spills

D Shipping

  • Protection from various shipping risks
  • 2/6
  • Actions to reduce air emissions from shipping
  • 1/8
  • Arctic Marine Traffic System
  • 2/2
  • Overall Rating
  • 5/16

All ratings for Shipping