Business Case for Coastal Guardian Watchmen Programs

Client: Coastal Stewardship Network, TNC Canada
Date: 2016

For many years, the Coastal First Nations have been working to establish and grow on-the-land environmental stewardship programs known as Guardian Watchmen programs. These programs generate a wide range of tangible benefits for the Coastal First Nations, as they provide them with a physical presence in their territories, enabling them to monitor resource health and use, promote compliance with Indigenous laws and federal/provincial regulations, and ensure that resource development and recreational activities are carried out in accordance with land and marine
use plans and agreements. However, these programs also generate a number of intangiblebenefits (e.g., cultural and community wellbeing, increased governance authority), which—though as important as the tangible benefits—tend to be much more difficult to measure and communicate to potential program funders and other audiences. Working in partnership with the Coastal Stewardship Network and TNC Canada, EPI developed a business case for these programs in an effort to capture and communicate these harder-to-measure benefits. Using tried and tested non-market valuation methods, EPI carried out a series of workshops and focus groups to identify program benefits, elicit values, develop an evaluation framework and work through complex ranking and weighting valuation exercises. The final product is essentially an adapted social return on investment study that the Coastal First Nations, TNC Canada and the Coastal Stewardship Network can use to:

  • Negotiate with non-Indigenous governments and industry for political and financial support and increased authority for Guardian Watchmen programs;
  • Solicit funding;
  • Explain program benefits to their communities;
  • Plan improvements to existing programs; and
  • Support a national dialogue about Indigenous stewardship of lands and resources.