Views from above: policy entrepreneurship and climate policy change on electricity in the Canadian Arctic

Alexandra Mallet& David Cherniak

Received: 24 July 2016 /Accepted: 7 March 2018

Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018


Many recognize the role of public policy in catalyzing action to address climate change. Attention has turned to theories of policy change, focusing on agents and their activities. Less clear, however, is the relationship between effective policy change and thactors, their context, and their strategies. We therefore ask: to what extent do kinds of policy actors, institutional settings, anpolicy entrepreneurial strategies influence policy change? Drawing from experiences in a subnational jurisdiction in the Canadian Arctic (Northwest Territories), the following findings emerged. Firstly, policy change occurred due to the efforts of a wide– ranging collective of policy actors. We further suggest that more attention focus upon the structures in which they operate. These aspects include modern treaty and devolution agreementsmechanisms that provide people with opportunities to engage within policy formulation processes; attempts at incorporating alternative viewpoints; dispersed communities; and experience with decentralized electricity. In addition, by attempting to align strategies with features unique to the region help foster policy change. These strategies included capitalizing on focusing events (e.g., low water levels affecting one of the hydro-based electricitsystems in a populace with a heightened awareness of climate change); issue linking (climate change, energy security, selfreliance); fostering networks involving insiders and outsiders and in a decentralized fashion; and utilizing a promising venue (aenergy charrette). In essence, a key feature of the region is that many features are in a state of flux. We posithat these open or fluid systems are ecologies in which policy entrepreneurship can possibly thrive.

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