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Developments Agreements

From Section 9 of Toolkit

A development agreement is a written arrangement between a First Nation and a proponent about how a project will be carried out, and how the two parties will relate during the project. Development agreement negotiations may be one aspect of consultation between a First Nation and a proponent during an environmental assessment (EA). They may also take place outside an EA process. From a First Nation’s perspective, a development agreement addresses the impacts of the development on local communities by providing for the sharing of benefits from the project, and protecting or compensating the community for any damages caused by the development. From a developer’s perspective, a development agreement can provide certainty for the development and a social license to proceed. 

Other common names for development agreements are: 

  • impact and benefit agreements;
  • protection and benefit agreements;
  • cooperation agreements; and
  • memorandums of understanding (MOUs).


Development agreements are intended to protect your First Nation’s interests and provide benefits to your First Nation. Protecting your interests usually means setting out in the agreement how the social, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of the project will be prevented, mitigated or compensated. Some common examples include commitments by the proponent to specific environmental mitigation, monitoring and follow-up programs, protection of access to traditional use areas, compensation for lost trapping and fishing revenues and funding to administer the agreement. 

Benefiting from the project means that your First Nation is further ahead than before the project. Some common examples of benefits are employment opportunities, training and apprenticeship programs, scholarships and educational assistance, funding for community-based projects and programs, service contracts to supply the project and revenue-sharing arrangements. A development agreement should achieve key objectives your community is concerned about. 

For example, it should: 

  • provide an acceptable level of engagement by your First Nation in the environmental management of the project;
  • ensure adequate protection of your First Nation’s valued resources;
  • ensure adequate protection of your First Nation’s land-based rights, title and interests;
  • provide lasting economic, social and cultural benefits to your community;
  • provide a process for effective communication between your First Nation government and the proponent; and
  • provide an effective and fair means of resolving disputes that may arise between the proponent and your community.

If these objectives are achieved, it is likely that an agreement will provide net benefits for your community. 

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