“We need a genuine, progressive movement that truly understands and fully acknowledges that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. It’s having devastating effects on our communities, on our people, and communities are burning to the ground. How many more communities have to be incinerated before governments will begin to move beyond good intentions and rhetoric?”Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
1. Meet the IPCC recommendations
In response to the current climate emergency, strengthen provincial and federal climate measures to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations to limit human-caused global warming to 1.5oC and support First Nations to prepare for current and future climate impacts.
2. Review and reform legislation, regulations, policies, programs, and frameworks
Review and reform all provincial and federal climate-related legislation, regulations, policies, programs, and engagement frameworks to address barriers, impacts, and limitations on asserting First Nations’ Title, Rights, Treaty Rights, and inherent jurisdiction in climate planning and response. This involves recognizing and using First Nations laws and legal processes and their ability to uphold their responsibilities to the land, waters, and environment.
3. Build long-term climate capacity
Work collaboratively to build long-term climate capacity within First Nations communities to respond to the climate emergency effectively. This involves immediately establishing a BC First Nations Climate Council to lead the implementation of the Strategy, conducting a provincial First Nations climate capacity assessment to assess disparities and challenges, and increasing Crown government investments specific to First Nations capacity building.
4. Create a BC First Nations Climate Fund
Create a BC First Nations Climate Fund with initial investments as outlined in the Strategy.
5. Support climate positions and programming
Support the creation of climate-related positions (such as climate change coordinators) and programming (Indigenous Guardians, fisheries authorities, water monitoring programs) within First Nations communities. This involves supporting interested First Nations in developing and implementing climate data frameworks and generating their own baseline data.
6. Incorporate Indigenous Knowledge
Strengthen the incorporation of Indigenous Knowledge in climate change initiatives. Ensure engagement with Elders and/or Knowledge Holders in all state-led climate discussions and response initiatives, support and facilitate intergenerational knowledge sharing with First Nations youth, and support the creation of Nation-specific climate glossaries inclusive of traditional language(s) and teachings.
7. Empower First Nations youth
Continue to empower and prepare First Nations youth for projected climate impacts through training, mentorship, and advocacy opportunities. Increase representation of First Nations youth in state-led climate discussions and response initiatives, including developing programs, projects, and policies.
8. Establish a regional network
Establish a regional network and discussion forum for First Nations on climate change to provide mutual support between Nations, create space for climate discussions and information sharing, and help to develop regional and provincial climate alliances. This involves hosting an annual BC First Nations Climate Gathering.
9. Support First Nation-led conservation
Identify areas and critical wildlife habitats requiring immediate restoration and protection due to resource extraction (logging, mining), agriculture, other urban/industrial development, and climate change. Support First Nation-led conservation and protection efforts in this regard, including the designation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, which can act as carbon sinks, and establish preventative measures such as laws or policies at the Nation level enforcing cleanup and remediation of disturbed lands and waters.
10. Transform resource extraction and development
Transform resource extraction (logging, mining) and other urban/industrial development processes and tenure systems to ensure:
- FPIC is obtained from all First Nations whose territories (lands, waters, environments, and all beings) may be impacted by a proposed project.
- FPIC is fully informed through honest, transparent, and independent representations of all projected impacts, including those compounded due to climate change.
- Early and ongoing engagement throughout the entire scope of a project with early and sufficient notice to review data and information received, as well as the ability for First Nation-led assessments and research on a particular issue.
- Appropriate integration of First Nations knowledge and laws into project work, including permitting and decision-making.
11. Protect Old Growth forests
Protect Old Growth forests, recognizing their role as carbon sinks in water retention, species protection and survival, human health, and combating climate change. Prohibit logging in floodplains and critical areas of watersheds to prevent droughts, floods, and landslides.
12. Conduct a BC First Nations Infrastructure Assessment
Conduct a BC First Nations Infrastructure Assessment to identify and meet infrastructure needs (transportation and communications networks, emergency response, housing and buildings, climate data, water treatment and distribution systems, waste handling and storage) to adapt and build resilient communities effectively. Explore opportunities for green infrastructure development to help reduce GHG emissions.
13. Enhance community-led food sovereignty
Develop long-term strategies, policies, and implementation tools to enhance community-led food and food sovereignty systems, including developing food waste management systems to help reduce carbon emissions and ecological footprints.
14. Recover and restore wild salmon
Ensure recovery and restoration of wild salmon stocks to secure First Nations’ cultural connection and access to traditional food sources for current and future generations.
15. Support First Nations in reducing GHG emissions
Support First Nations in assessing, quantifying, and reducing their GHG emissions to inform decision-making, develop offset and/or mitigation measures, and explore economic investments.
16. Strengthen emergency management, response, and recovery
Immediately strengthen emergency management, response, and recovery systems within and between First Nations communities by:
- Ensuring emergency management legislation, policies, and programs, such as BC’s Emergency Management Act, respond to the current climate emergency and are aligned with the UN Declaration and the Declaration Acts.
- Assessing the capacity of First Nations communities to respond to climate-related emergencies and implement critical supports needed. This may involve Identifying and implementing critical supports and infrastructure required to reduce risks and vulnerabilities, supporting fire response positions, implementing traditional fire management systems, and more.
- Developing a BC First Nations Regional Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction aligned with the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction and the UN Declaration.
- Supporting actions already undertaken by the First Nations Leadership Council and the First Nations Emergency Services Society to implement the Tripartite Emergency Management Memorandum of Understanding.
17. Support Nation-specific climate strategies
Support First Nations in developing their Nation-specific climate-related strategies and action plans based on their needs, priorities, and self-determined processes. This includes energy-efficiency strategies, risk assessments, GHG emission reduction plans, heritage protection plans, and/or monitoring and data collection frameworks.
18. Support First Nations’ energy transitions
Support First Nations to rapidly transition to reliable and affordable renewable, non-combustible and/or low-carbon energy sources by establishing Indigenous utilities, diversifying clean energy sources, aligning legislation, regulations, policies and programs with the UN Declaration and Declaration Acts, and increasing Crown government support and investments.
19. Support First Nations’ carbon projects
Support First Nations in developing environmentally sustainable and low-carbon economic development projects and opportunities.
20. Ensure access to clean and safe food and water
IMMEDIATELY ensure that all First Nations in BC have long-term and reliable access to clean and safe food and water sources in their homes and territories.