Project Finance for Permanence: Support for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives

Indigenous leadership in conservation

Indigenous peoples have been caring for the lands and waters of Canada since time immemorial. First Nations, Inuit, and Métis worldviews foster unique relationships with nature. Responsible stewardship is more than just good practice—it is a way of life and tied to cultural identity.

By working together, we are supporting Indigenous peoples to protect more nature across the country. We are advancing reconciliation while helping ensure the world we leave to future generations is healthy and safe.

Innovative model for long-term conservation

In December 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $800 million to support up to 4 Indigenous-led conservation initiatives. This announcement took place at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The investment is an innovative model called Project Finance for Permanence (PFP). This model leverages government and private funding and supports large-scale, long-term conservation.  PFPs bring together partners from Indigenous governments and communities, other levels of government, and the philanthropic community. Partners work together—from the beginning—to:

The PFP model allows partners to contribute their unique experience, expertise, and/or funding to a long-term conservation initiative. Applying this model will support:

The PFP model reflects many targets from the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework, including commitments to:

Together, these initiatives will make a significant contribution to Canada’s goal to conserve 30% of lands and oceans by 2030. They will also respect Indigenous peoples’ cultures, traditional knowledge, and rights over lands, territories, and resources.

Example: Great Bear Rainforest

Great Bear Rainforest is the first PFP in Canada — and was the first one in the world. Led by Indigenous communities, environmental groups, and philanthropic organizations, it covers 6.4 million hectares on British Columbia’s north and central coast. This is equivalent to the size of Ireland. The 2007 agreement included $120 million in funding. The governments of Canada and British Columbia each contributed $30 million, and individuals and private foundations donated $60 million.

Coast Funds, an arms-length fund administrator, manages the funds in support of Indigenous-led conservation and sustainable development. Since 2007, the partnership has grown to include additional Indigenous governments and communities, and philanthropic organizations. This has generated a further $296.8 million in new investments, for a total investment of $404 million (to date) for Indigenous-led projects in the region.

Coast Funds oversees the Conservation Endowment Fund and the Economic Development Fund. The Conservation Endowment Fund takes a long-term approach to sustaining First Nations’ stewardship capacity in the Great Bear Rainforest in perpetuity.  The Economic Development Fund invests in First Nations-led business opportunities, sustainable development, and community well-being.

This successful PFP initiative has also allowed First Nations to use these investments to acquire, expand, and create 123 local businesses. This has led to the creation of 1,253 permanent new jobs. First Nation community members hold more than 960 of these jobs.

Contributing to Canada’s conservation targets

In the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, governments and partners have increased efforts to protect, steward, and enhance nature. Reaching the ambitious goal of protecting 30% of lands and oceans by 2030 requires partners to work together. Partnerships at all levels are necessary for establishing, recognizing and managing protected and conserved areas ensuring each one is:

Without ongoing commitments and sources of financing, these areas are vulnerable to constant pressures and threats. This makes it difficult to maintain the valuable ecosystems, biodiversity, and resources the communities depend on.

The aim is to establish and ensure the long-term sustainability of large protected and conserved areas across the country. Once completed, these initiatives could protect up to an additional one million square kilometers.

Locations

PFP initiatives are supporting Indigenous-led conservation in 4 key areas:

Four Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiatives (See long description below)
Long description for Four Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiatives

Map of Canada indicating the 4 initial candidate areas for PFP initiatives. These include:

  • Northwest Territories (indicated in purple)
  • the Northern Shelf Bioregion(indicated in orange)
  • the Qikiqtani Region in northern Nunavut (indicated in blue) and
  • the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Western Hudson Bay, and Southwestern James Bay, in Ontario and Nunavut (indicated in red)

Partners will reconfirm actual PFP boundaries at a later date.

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