Hazard Identification Risk Assessment

What is it?

The Northwest Territories (NWT) Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (HIRA) was first completed in April 2014 and most recently updated in 2022. The HIRA provides an examination of the risks that pose the greatest threat to the people, property, environment and economy of the NWT. The assessment is a critical part of the GNWT’s emergency management program. Identified hazards will be considered in developing territorial preparedness programs, mitigation strategies, emergency response plan exercises, and training and awareness programs. The complete HIRA includes an overall review of Northwest Territories Hazards and five regional risk summaries.

A HIRA provides information on which hazards should be considered a priority for emergency management programs at a particular point in time.  Hazards and risks change over time and need to be monitored and reconsidered on a regular basis. The NWT HIRA is a living document that will be updated periodically as described in the NWT Emergency Plan.

Why conduct a HIRA?

The GNWT and municipal governments have limited resources, and planning for every possible threat is often not realistic. An informed ranking of hazards provides officials an ideal planning tool that helps ensure a cost-effective approach for risk mitigation, emergency planning, disaster response and recovery.

How was the NWT HIRA completed? 

Extensive documentation and data were assessed in the development of this project. This included an academic and historical literature review, and consultation with other provinces and territories, federal departments, territorial departments and communities.  In addition, a review was conducted of territorial, regional and community emergency plans and emergency event case files. As part of the original HIRA development six regional workshops and an online survey provided additional information on hazards in the NWT.

This project also looked at current hazards through a climate change lens. In anticipation of the impact of climate change in the NWT, this analysis also projected which hazards could occur more frequently or become more extreme in the future. The assessment identified and rated twenty hazards that could affect the NWT, and then ranked them in order of emergency planning priority.

The NWT Hazard Summary included in the Executive Summary section provides a list of hazards ranked into four categories of risk. The rankings were determined using best practices methodology combined with insight from community stakeholders and local experts.

Overall Flood (Ice Jam/Freshet) and Wildfire/Interface Fire were found to be the highest risk hazards throughout the NWT. These hazards have frequently caused extensive damage to people, property, the environment, and the economy. Both hazards are also expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change, causing more extensive damage to communities in the future.

What can the NWT HIRA be used for?

The NWT HIRA can help identify hazards that exist in the territory, both natural, technological, and human-induced; how frequently they might occur; how severe their impact may be on communities, critical infrastructure, property, and the environment, in the past, now and in the future; and which hazards pose the greatest threat to communities. This information can be used in updates to territorial and community emergency plans, in the development of territorial or municipal disaster risk mitigation plans, to improve emergency response protocols and structures, and to guide the development of emergency response exercises.


This study was made possible by a contribution of funding through the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Climate Change Adaptation Program, Government of the Northwest Territories Partnership.