Government of Canada invests in Indigenous-led Natural Climate Solutions across the country
December 9, 2022 – Montréal, Quebec
Indigenous peoples have been stewards of our natural environment since time immemorial. Conserving and restoring nature through Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Science is fundamental to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Climate change is altering the water cycle, resulting in flooding, droughts, and wildfires. It is also one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss. Conserving and restoring nature are important ways for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Canada is committed to implementing nature-based solutions to build resilience and help meet the country’s 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced $5.8 million in funding for 14 Indigenous-led initiatives, as part of the Indigenous-led Natural Climate Solutions initiative. These initiatives are taking place across the country, focusing on building capacity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while providing important benefits to support increased well-being and resilience in Indigenous Nations and communities. This includes the initiative of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi in Northern Quebec, where they are training Indigenous land users on best practices for nature-smart climate solutions to complete restoration and enhancement of coastal ecosystems.
The Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund is a $631 million, 10-year fund to support projects that conserve, restore and enhance wetlands, peatlands, grasslands, and forests, in order to store and capture carbon. Of this amount, up to $36.9 million is allocated to provide targeted support for Indigenous peoples through the Indigenous-led Natural Climate Solution funding stream. Of course, Indigenous organizations can also submit applications directly to the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund, like the Stqeeye’ Learning Society’s Indigenous-led, 5-year funded initiative at Burgoyne Bay on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, to protect and increase the carbon sequestration of local forests and wetlands and help increase the quality of wildlife habitat.
Countries from around the world are in Montreal for the 15th United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), where Canada continues to demonstrate a strong leadership role in biodiversity and nature conservation. Along with international partners, Canada is championing both the development of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with clear targets and actions, as well as the important role Indigenous Knowledge plays in our efforts to conserve and protect biodiversity and natural environments at home and around the world.
“In the spirit of reconciliation, we are committed to supporting the leadership of Indigenous peoples to help protect ecosystems and Indigenous cultures for future generations. Fighting the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss requires collective effort and systematic change in the ways we interact with nature. This change must include respect for Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Science, derived from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis experience in acting as caretakers of land, water, and ice since time immemorial.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“The Indigenous Guardians’ Nature-Smart Climate Solutions funding has helped the Chisasibi Eeyou Resource and Research Institute to build capacity, acquire needed equipment, and develop skills to design and implement future nature-smart climate solutions, with an emphasis on restoring eelgrass beds and other wetlands identified by our Elders, land users, and tallymen. Since the mid-1970s, there have been drastic changes in our coastal ecosystem, including the disappearance of eelgrass beds, which provide nourishment to niskak (geese) as they migrate along the coast of James Bay. Niskak are the cornerstone of Eeyou (Cree) traditions and customs, and their protection is critical to our people.”
– Chief Daisy House, Cree Nation of Chisasibi
“Since 2015, at the request of its three owner First Nations, Wahkohtowin was tasked with finding ways to create full participation in climate action efforts as we found pathways toward full participation in forestry and forest management. The emergence of the Nature Based Climate Solutions Fund has provided resources to our team that engage our Youth, Elders, and community to explore solutions in the boreal forest region. This funding is critical to connect people to the land and grow conservation solutions.”
– David Flood, General Manager, Wahkohtowin Development GP Inc.
Nature-based solutions are defined by the United Nations Environment Assembly as “actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use and manage natural or modified terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, which address social, economic and environmental challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being, ecosystem services and resilience and biodiversity benefits.”
Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan committed an additional $780 million to nature-based solutions.
The Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund supports Canada’s goal to protect 25 percent of lands and oceans by 2025, and to work toward 30 percent by 2030.
Canada is home to 25 percent of the world’s wetlands, 25 percent of temperate rainforest areas, and 24 percent of remaining boreal forests. These ecosystems are globally significant for absorbing carbon, mitigating the impacts of climate change, and protecting biodiversity.
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