Toward Indigenous visions of nature-based solutions: an exploration into Canadian federal climate policy

Reed, G., et al. | Climate Policy | 2022 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Political traction for nature-based solutions is rapidly growing as governments recognize their role in addressing the simultaneous climate and biodiversity crises. While there has been recognition of the role of Indigenous Peoples in nature-based solutions, there has also been limited academic review on their relationship. This paper explores how the Government of Canada’s conceptualization of nature-based solutions either support or prevent Indigenous sustainable self-determination. Drawing on past policy frameworks, we construct a novel four-dimensional sustainable self-determination policy lens focused on: Indigenous knowledge systems; Indigenous jurisdiction over land; the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples; and Indigenous Peoples as rights-holders to review a total of nine federal climate policy, planning, and science documents. Our analysis shows that while there is growing recognition of Indigenous rights, inclusion of Indigenous knowledge, and commitments to include the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the implementation of certain climate activities, there is a clear unwillingness to recognize Indigenous jurisdiction and Indigenous understandings of land as systems of reciprocal relations. Reframing nature-based solutions in the context of Canadian and international climate policy is essential not only to advance the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples, but also to create the ceremonial ground for Indigenous visions of nature-based solutions in order to address these joint crises.