The MEMA Project

shutterstock 39422158Meaningful Engagement of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in Marine Activities (MEMA) is a cross-cutting oil & gas and shipping project which will compile and analyze existing documents and summarize their main aspects, principles, and processes for engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities.

The project will cover all Arctic marine and coastal activities, including shipping, offshore oil and gas activities, coastal infrastructure development, and research and management activities. The information to be compiled will come from Arctic Council documents and reports, national legal regimes and guidance of Arctic states, guidelines and declarations from communities and indigenous organizations, international instruments, and guidance from industry, NGO’s and other stakeholders.

Main activities include:
  • Finding and Compiling Information
  • Documenting Best Practices and Lessons Learned
  • Workshop on Best Practices and Lessons Learned
  • Narrative Report

MEMA Part I forsida FINALReport Part I: Arctic Council and Indigenous Engagement - A Review
A significant amount of work has been done in the MEMA Project. A database has been compiled with hundreds of documents and individual recommendations, declarations, and requirements relating to engagement of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in marine activities in the Arctic. A preliminary analysis has been conducted on these documents to ascertain the current practices, requirements and guidance.

A narrative summary of the obligations for engagement and common practices has been drafted. Two workshops have been held in support of the project - one in Anchorage in October 2015 and one in September 2016 at Bowdoin College in Maine with a workshop report. During preparation of the MEMA Report, the MEMA project team has learned much about meaningful engagement, its definition, challenges and, ultimately, that more input into the project is needed. The database, while large and diverse, has limits. Not all important available documents were included due to challenges regarding the call for information.

Double the amount of data was subsequently added, but came after the analysis was completed on the initial information. This requires a reanalysis, to include the additional information, in Part II of the MEMA Project. Most importantly, the database currently lacks adequate input from Indigenous Peoples and organizations. This is particularly true for the Scandinavian and Russian Arctic. But there is a deeper issue too.

Many of the recommendations and protocols from Indigenous peoples for meaningful engagement are not in English; many are not necessarily collected in documents that are readily available; and some are in the oral tradition. To get this vital information PAME decided that a coordinated outreach process must be undertaken. It is clear that to define what “meaningful” means, and assess the state of meaningful engagement practices, that the Indigenous point of view should be more fully ascertained and represented in the database and review.

These protocols and best practices are fundamental to understanding meaningful engagement and many have been in place for centuries. Meaningful engagement is an issue of high importance to the Permanent Participants and the Arctic Council overall. The work undertaken by the Arctic Council will be strengthened through meaningful engagement. To that end, PAME decided that in order to achieve the best possible result, the project should not be rushed to completion to the exclusion of very important information as noted above. For this reason, the project focused on the Arctic Council and its recommendations in Part I as a baseline for comparison to the full suite of recommendations, requirements and guidance from all sources and sectors in Part II of the project.


shutterstock 213023194 Work to Date                                                                                                 
Significant work has been completed on the MEMA project:
  • A database has been compiled with hundreds of documents pertaining to engagement of Indigenous peoples and communities.
  • An analysis has been conducted on these documents to ascertain the current practices and guidance.
  • A narrative summary of the legal basis for engagement and common practices has been written.
  • Two workshops have been held in support of the project (in Anchorage in October 2015; and in Maine in September 2016 with a workshop report).
  • The Project Team is proposing to extend the project (into 2017-2019) to complete the following:
    • i. Collect further input from Indigenous people and organizations – particularly from Scandinavian and Russian Arctic;
    • ii. Host coordinated outreach with indigenous peoples to capture additional recommendations / protocols, including from oral tradition;
    • iii. Incorporate additional documents from countries / sectors;
    • iv. Expand the analysis to include the additional information; and
    • v. Prepare the (full) project report.