"We champion the responsible development of the West’s natural resources, for the benefit of all."

Marla Orenstein, Director, Natural Resources Centre

Natural Resources Centre

We deliver insight into both the challenges and opportunities in the natural resources sector

2018 work plan (pdf)

A better way to benefit

Canada’s prosperity has been, and will continue to be, due in large part to our abundant natural resources. But their extraction, development and transportation must be responsible, environmentally sustainable, and involve greater Indigenous participation. At the same time, governments, industry and all Canadians are grappling with how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming Canadian competitiveness. Part of that means adding different sources of energy, with more focus on electricity – yet we still have significant transmission challenges, particularly inter-province. These are among the issues our 2018 research and recommendations will focus on.

2018 projects

Getting electricity right

The western provinces have different regional comparative advantages and needs. Building on our Power Up: The hydro option paper, we are continuing our work on electricity, including co-operation across the West on which electricity sources make the most sense for which customers, in which places, for which uses. And we need to determine how best to get that electricity from where it is produced to where it is needed. We are also working on how greater co-operation and more integrated production and transmission of electricity can benefit each province. This work was started in 2017; Phase 2 will be completed in 2018, culminating with a comprehensive report with recommendations for the West.

Successful Indigenous resource partnerships

Indigenous people who live on or near Canada’s vast natural resource endowment too often manage poverty, not prosperity. Yet, there are cases where natural resources firms and Indigenous communities have built successful partnerships. Our Natural Resources and Human Capital Centres are collaborating with our Indigenous partners, Name to Place Educational Consulting and Medicine Rope Strategies, to share these success stories. Phase 1, to be completed in early 2018, summarizes what we learned through roundtables with Indigenous leaders and industry about the meaning of success, different approaches, and the factors that contribute to successful partnerships. Phase 2, to be completed in early 2019, will involve “deep-dive” case studies of up to eight individual communities (two in each western province) to determine the factors that contribute (or not) to the success of partnerships with resource development firms, and to better understand the opportunities to use a competency-based approach to employment and entrepreneurship in Indigenous communities.

Getting energy infrastructure built – responsibly

The energy sector is clearly of great importance to the economies of all of the western provinces, albeit in different ways. Extracting, developing and getting that energy to markets in cost-effective, responsible and sustainable ways is critical. Building on our work in A Matter of Trust: The role of communities in energy decision-making and Up Front: Modernizing the National Energy Board, we continue to develop evidence-based recommendations to help energy projects (oil, gas, hydro and renewables) get built sustainably and with community support. Our work this year will address emerging issues, such as the overhaul of the federal and provincial regulatory systems (including the proposed evolution of the NEB to a new Canadian Energy Regulator).

From ‘no’ to ‘go’ on innovation and regulatory policy

Innovation is key to Canada’s energy sector transition to a cleaner economy. But in many cases, regulatory processes are slowing, and sometimes preventing, the adoption of innovations that could reduce GHG emissions and lower costs. Our project will analyze the nature of the regulatory barriers and recommend changes needed to reduce those barriers, while ensuring the system still protects Canadians’ health, economic security and the environment.


In addition to specific projects, we will continue to provide expert research, insight and recommendations to decision-makers on various climate policies with the goal of ensuring both sustainability and economic competitiveness.


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Planned research

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