Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund - Sector-based policy stream: overview

1. Background

The climate and nature crises are inextricably linked and natural climate solutions are required to tackle these crises. Natural climate solutions help to remove greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere, preserve the adaptive potential of our earth reducing risk from natural disasters, and enhance the resilience of communities. Canada is committed to natural climate solutions to build resilience and help Canada meet its 2030 and 2050 climate change objectives.

The Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund (NSCSF), administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), supports partner-led projects that result in the reduction of GHG and increased carbon sequestration on Canadian soil using activities that also have biodiversity benefits.

NSCSF activities during 2021-22 to 2030-31 will seek to reduce 2-4 megatons of GHGs per year from 2030 to 2050 and onwards. Ecosystems will continue to sequester carbon for many years after the initial investment ends.

The fund has three streams:

Note that the information provided here is related to the 2021 Call for Letters of Intent for Sector-based policy only. For questions related to the implementation of the Indigenous component of the NSCSF, please contact

2. Stream objectives and expected results

The Sector-based policy stream will support activities needed to update, develop and/or implement policies, programs, and tools designed to address the systemic issues related to implementing nature-based climate solutions and

  1. reduce GHG emissions from ecosystem (e.g., forests, wetland, or grassland) conversion;
  2. increase carbon sequestration resulting from increased restoration of grasslands and wetlands; and/or
  3. increase the adoption of land management practices that avoid GHG emissions and/or optimize GHG sequestration and storage through nature-based solutions, in Canada.

Expected Results

Projects under this initiative will contribute to the following results:

3. Eligible recipients

Eligible funding recipients are

In cases where recipients further distribute funds, the ultimate recipients must be included in the list of eligible recipients.

4. Stream priorities

For this open call, the program will prioritize funding activities

  1. that apply to the following places
  2. that engage priority sectors, agriculture, forestry and urban development.

5. Eligible activities

Projects should help to address systemic issues limiting the implementation of nature-based climate solutions and may include:

In all cases, applicants will need to demonstrate the potential link between project activities and habitat for species at risk and migratory birds.

6. Consolidating projects and multi-year funding

Projects must be completed within 2- 5 years of the signed Funding Agreement.

7. Matching contributions

8. Project funding and eligible expenses

Fund use requirements

Proposals received by the deadline must satisfy all Fund Use Requirements below in order to be eligible for funding.

Project funding

The minimum funding request for the Sector-based policy stream is $ 100,000 per project. Organizations may not receive more than $25 million per fiscal year for any individual or combination of applications across all NSCSF funding streams.

Eligible expenses

For all eligible expenses, only those deemed to be a reasonable share for completing the project shall be considered eligible.

Eligible expenses may include reasonable and properly itemized costs for:

9. Other requirements

To be eligible for funding, applicants will be required to

10. To apply

Review the various funding opportunities, and confirm you are applying to the correct fund. Review fund use requirements and ensure your project’s activities satisfy those requirements.

  1. Log into the Grants and Contributions Enterprise Management System (GCEMS), and check out the Technical Guide for help with this process. Accessing GCEMS requires applicants to create a GCKey and access the Single Window Information Manager (SWIM). Accessing the on-line application the first time may require three business days for a password to be provided. Make sure you sign up for a password through the SWIM portal as early as possible, after which you can access GCEMS to fill out an application for this and other ECCC funding programs. Once in GCEMS, ensure all proposed project activities are eligible NSCSF expenditures. For questions or clarification, please contact the NSCSF office at
  2. Prepare your funding application using GCEMS. Visit the GCEMS application instructions page for technical assistance documents, tutorials, and support throughout your application preparation. This funding application requires filling out a supplemental PDF and excel spreadsheet. Be sure to attach these to your funding application. Applications without this PDF and spreadsheet will not be considered for funding.
  3. Submit your Letter of Intent in GCEMS. All applications must include the supplemental spreadsheet and additional documents referenced to provide evidence for the questions asked.

Your application must be submitted in GCEMS portal before the stated deadline.

11. How projects are reviewed

Your Letter of Intent is reviewed to verify eligibility and to assess technical and scientific merit. All project proposals are subject to the same evaluation criteria. Project applications are reviewed by the NSCSF program to confirm that:

Following this administrative assessment, your project proposal is examined by a technical review team in order to evaluate your application for its scientific and technical merit and to finalize the overall analysis of each of the project applications received.

Successful applicants will be contacted by ECCC to discuss next steps. The Sector-based policy area of work is new, therefore ECCC intends to work with screened in applicants to clarify the program requirements prior to seeking approval in principle.

12. For accepted applications

If your Letter of Intent is accepted, you will be contacted about next steps. Federal Members of Parliament and/or their team may be advised about approved projects and may be provided with the applicant’s name, project title, project description, project location, funding amounts and contact information.

If your application is not approved, you will also be informed in writing.

Once confirmation of approval of the project has been received, applicants will be required to submit additional information, including but not limited to the following:

Cash flow statement

A detailed cash flow statement of all sources of revenue (including all in-kind contributions) and expenditures that are part of the approved project will be required.

Reporting obligations

The Contribution Agreement, between the recipient and ECCC, will specify project report deadlines and will include the required forms. Recipients will need to provide regular progress reports, annual reports (for multi-year projects) as well as a final report at the end of the project.

These reports will describe project revenue, expenses, accomplishments and detailed descriptions/quantifications of project outputs and outcomes.

Project expected results for annual or final project reports could include:

Performance table
Performance indicator Potential project indicator

Change in policy strength for climate mitigation

a) The estimated difference between the existing and new policy, program, or tool in terms of the rate of conversion, restoration or enhanced management activities.
b) The difference in the likelihood of the uptake of the nature-based climate solution.

Number of hectares impacted by the policy, program, or tool

The estimated total number of hectares, by ecosystem type – forest, wetlands and grasslands, impacted by the new policy, program or tool developed and implemented.     

Shift towards implementation

Target audiences have modified their behaviour to take action to reduce greenhouse gases.
Target audiences have designed or developed a policy, program or tool that will lead to a reduce greenhouse gases.
Target audiences have the information needed to create the policy, program or tool needed to help others modify their behaviour to take action to reduce greenhouse gases.

Biodiversity Co-Benefits

The estimated number of hectares impacted by the new policy, program or tool with targeted benefits for species at risk, migratory birds, or other species of cultural and/or socio-economic importance to local communities.
The estimated number of hectares impacted by the new policy, program or tool that overlaps with Habitat Joint Venture (HJV) priority areas, species at risk Priority Places; species at risk critical habitat; important migratory bird habitat or areas that meet the Ecological Gift Program Eco sensitivity criteria.

Additional indicators may be required.

Applicants are encouraged to report on other indicators to show the full scope of anticipated outcomes.

Survey data sharing

Recipients will be required to provide species occurrence or habitat data collected in the context of the project to the respective provincial/territorial wildlife data repository centre or to ECCC or Parks Canada, as relevant to your project. Recipients will be asked to confirm in their final report the submission of data.

Intellectual property rights

Any Intellectual Property Rights created by the Recipient in association with their obligations and responsibilities under this Agreement shall vest in and remain the property of the Recipient. ECCC shall have no rights to this intellectual property for any purpose without the express written permission of the Recipient.


Recipients will be responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits associated with the project from relevant federal and/or provincial authorities (including those required under SARA, the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and any other provincial or territorial wildlife acts that may apply) wherever the project triggers the need for a permit (for example, it could impact target species).

As permits take time to arrange, Recipients should address this need several months before the project start date to reduce delays once a funding announcement is made (see the SARA registry).

Public acknowledgment

Recipients are responsible for providing ECCC with final copies of any document or material utilizing the ECCC identifier, wordmark and/or acknowledgement statements prior to printing or distribution, for ECCC approval of the use of said logos and/or acknowledgment statements. The Regional NSCSF Coordinator will need to be consulted prior to making any communications products such as publications, public information releases, advertising, promotional announcements, activities, speeches, lectures, interviews, ceremonies and websites. All such communications products originating from the project must acknowledge ECCC’s contribution by displaying the ECCC identifier with the public acknowledgement text, along with the ECCC wordmark.

Official languages

The Official Languages Act (Part VII) requires that the Government of Canada promote both official languages and enhance the vitality of Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs) across Canada. It is recognized that projects or organizations funded by ECCC through a grants and contributions program may:

Applicants whose project may be delivered in a geographic area with OLMCs or which includes any public events, signage, promotional or other communications may need to consider official language requirements. For example, a project may be required to:

Cost directly related to official language translation required under the Official Languages Act for a project is an eligible cost under the program.

Applicants will be required to complete the Official Language Questionnaire for Funding applicants (included in the application form) in order to assess the official language requirements that may apply to the project. Applicants should discuss any potential official language requirements and opportunities with their Regional NSCSF Coordinator.

Note: Overlap with other federal funding programs

You can only receive funding from one federal funding program for each proposed activity. Any application submitted to other Environment and Climate Change Canada funding programs (for example, AFSAR, EcoAction, etc.) must be for activities that are different from those submitted in the NSCSF application. Organizations should review information from other Environment and Climate Change Canada funding programs to determine which program is the best fit for their project.

13. Main links

Please see the following websites for additional information that may be useful for applicants:

For any further questions, please contact us at

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