Terms of Reference - Nature-Based Climate Solutions Advisory Committee

Mandate

The Nature-Based Climate Solutions Advisory Committee (the Committee) is intended to bring expertise and thought leadership to the Government of Canada’s Natural Climate Solutions Fund (NCSF) initiative. With an understanding of the dual crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, members of the Committee are expected to offer insight and practical considerations to inform:

The objective of the Committee is to provide expert advice to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on program delivery to ensure the achievement of maximum emissions reductions, while also delivering biodiversity and human well-being co-benefits. 

The focus of advice is intended to reflect questions or issues related to program delivery raised by NRCan, ECCC, and AAFC, and may reflect additional questions or issues related to program delivery raised by the Committee itself. The Committee will base its advice on the experience, knowledge and expertise of members.

Principles

The Committee will be guided by the key principles of flexibility, inclusivity and transparency while maintaining an environment that ensures the free exchange of ideas to inform evidence-based decision making.

Transparency and reporting structure

The names of Committee members, agendas and summaries of discussions may be made publicly available subject to the approval of members.

The Committee will provide its advice to NRCan, ECCC, and AAFC Assistant Deputy Ministers. This could consist of a list of the recommendations that were brought forward during discussions. Reporting on discussions and advice of the Committee will not attribute advice and views to specific Committee members.

Membership

The Committee will include up to 17 external expert members on nature-based climate solutions (NBCS). Expert members will be jointly appointed by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Natural Resources based on the joint recommendations from the two departments.  Assistant Deputy Minister representatives from NRCan, ECCC, and AAFC will be ex-officio members of the Committee.

Experts will participate in their personal capacity and not as representatives of organizations. Every two years after the first year of program implementation, up to a third of the members on the committee will be replaced by new experts, to ensure both diversity of perspectives and continuity within the committee. Government of Canada or other subject matter experts may be called to participate in specific meetings as appropriate to enable the committee to benefit from a range of knowledge, expertise, experience, and perspectives.

The expert members should include, inter alia, members with the following areas of experience, knowledge and expertise:

  1. Indigenous leadership or traditional knowledge related to nature-based climate solutions ;
  2. Expertise with implementation of NBCS or land-based practices for climate change mitigation or adaptation (provincial, territorial, or local governments, industry or non-profit sector;)
  3. Expertise quantifying the GHG impacts of NBCS (academia in Canada or internationally );
  4. Expertise assessing or achieving NBCS co-benefits such as for biodiversity and human well-being ;
  5. Experience in related sectors in Canada or internationally (forestry, land-use planning, ecosystem restoration, agricultural beneficial management practices); or
  6. Any other relevant background related to program design and delivery that will bring useful input to the committee related to achieving GHG emissions reductions, as well as human well-being and biodiversity outcomes more generally.

In addition to expertise, the Committee membership should be aligned with principles of diversity and inclusion.

Roles and responsibilities

Expert members of the Committee have a responsibility to NRCan, ECCC, and AAFC and by extension, to Canadians, to give their best advice, in their personal capacity. Other responsibilities include to:

  1. be available and prepared to participate in Committee meetings, including email exchanges, conference calls, and videoconferencing.
  2. participate in the discussions on the Committee’s recommendations, advice, or report to NRCan, ECCC, and AAFC.
  3. strive to reach consensus in advice provided, or where that is not possible, accurately reflect the diversity of opinion on advice.

The Committee will nominate co-chairs for a period of one year.  The co-chairs have additional responsibilities, including to:

  1. co-chair Committee meetings.
  2. facilitate a full and frank discussion among Committee members in fulfillment of the Committee’s mandate, including in formulating its recommendations, advice, and reports.
  3. seek consensus on the Committee advice among all committee members, and if there is not agreement, ensure this diversity of opinion is noted in meeting records or reports.

The co-chairs will be supported by a secretariat. The secretariat is the administrative liaison between Committee members and is fulfilled by NRCan and ECCC. The secretariat provides leadership and strategic advice in the management of the Committee and works closely with the co-chairs/members. In addition, the responsibilities of the secretariat include to:

  1. coordinate the member appointment process.
  2. coordinate the preparation of materials for Committee members and meetings, observers, and others, and coordinate the timing of their distribution. This includes the meeting agendas.
  3. support public access to information about the Committee, as appropriate.
  4. act as a liaison between departments and the Committee, including seeking input from departmental subject-matter experts on scientific, technical, programs, and policy areas.

The secretariat does not undertake research, analysis or report writing for the Committee, but will facilitate outside experts participating in Committee meetings to provide information or external contractors for reporting, as required.

Governance

The Committee will generally meet up to twice per year in plenary format, with the possibility of  additional meetings in the first year as the program is established.  Meetings will take place virtually via videoconference or teleconference.

Meeting agendas will be established by the secretariat for the consideration of the co-chairs. Working groups under the Committee may also be convened to facilitate supplementary dialogue on particular issues as needed. 

Attendance shall be limited to members, without substitution, unless otherwise agreed to by the co-chairs. The Committee may invite additional experts to participate in these working groups as appropriate. 

Should any in-person meetings be  required, members of the advisory body will be eligible for travel-related expenses while on travel status away from their normal place of residence in accordance with the National Joint Council Travel Directive and the Treasury Board Special Travel Authorities, and for any other reasonably necessary incidental expenses.

Duration

The Committee will be convened for a period of five years, after which its objectives and terms of reference will be re-assessed and revised as needed. 

Conflict of interest

The Committee may be asked to discuss protected or sensitive issues that may create a perceived or real conflict of interest with one or more members.  Members are responsible for disclosing any real or potential conflict of interest to the Chair and may be required to withdraw from such discussions. 

Confidentiality

To encourage continued communication and dialogue that fosters transparency in information sharing between the Committee and the Government of Canada, all parties agree that any information that is not otherwise public, and was received in the spirit of soliciting advice, will be treated as confidential, unless prior agreement to disclose is shared between Committee Members and federal partners.

Remuneration

Advisory body members serve as volunteers and do not receive remuneration. Exceptions can be considered in the case of Indigenous members.

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