Inherent Title and Rights
Goal: Ensure First Nations’ Title, Rights, and Treaty Rights in BC are recognized and affirmed in climate planning and response.
As a foundation for the Strategy, First Nations in BC must be recognized as inherent Title and Rights holders in climate planning and response. The aim is to provide an opportunity to begin a new path where First Nations are treated as true and equal partners in climate planning and response. This involves ensuring the following:
- All climate-related legislation, policies, programs, and implementation are reviewed and aligned with the UN Declaration and the Declaration Acts. It is essential to immediately remove any limitations on assertions of First Nations’ jurisdiction to manage and care for their territories and resources.
- First Nations knowledge, laws, and languages are protected and preserved as a foundation for building resiliency and responding to the climate crisis. Indigenous Knowledge has the power to combat climate change and must be broadly recognized as legitimate.
- Engagement and collaboration with First Nations are strong, moving away from the “duty to consult” and focusing on creating meaningful partnerships to co-develop legislation, policies, and programs and co-managing implementation.
Capacity and Leadership
Goal: Ensure First Nations in BC are empowered and prepared with the capacity and tools needed to effectively lead the response to the climate crisis both now and in the future.
First Nations in BC are climate leaders. However, to guarantee continued leadership and long-term climate resiliency, it is essential to focus on capacity building to ensure tools are in place for Nations and community members. The strategies and actions identified in this pathway are focused on the following:
- Identifying capacity challenges and needs for First Nations across the province to assess disparities, collaboration areas, and capacity-building mechanisms.
- Strengthening knowledge and awareness within First Nations on climate change, including its sources, impacts, and response mechanisms.
- Creating opportunities for climate-related training and skills development incorporating Indigenous Knowledge and western science. This involves preparing future generations through advocacy and training opportunities and facilitating intergenerational knowledge-sharing.
- Ensuring long-term and stable climate funding for First Nations. Specifically by establishing a BC First Nations Climate Fund.
- Implementing effective climate data governance and management systems within and between Indigenous communities broadly.
- Ensuring inclusive participation and empowerment for First Nations youth, women, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and others) peoples.
Land and Water Protection
Goal: Ensure the health, stability, and resiliency of the land, waters, and environment for future generations.
Climate change and human activity continue to impact the state of the lands and waters across the province. Both human and non-human beings rely on the health and stability of the environment. The strategies and actions identified under this pathway focus on environmental stewardship while ensuring that First Nations in BC can uphold their responsibilities and obligations to the land, waters, and resources and continue to protect them perpetually. This includes:
- Ensuring mechanisms are in place to restore the lands, waters, and ecosystems impacted by climate change. This involves strengthening First Nation-led conservation efforts and implementing accountability measures for environmentally impactful human actions.
- Ensuring respect and recognition of First Nations water governance and protecting natural water ecosystems through First Nation-led water management policies and practices.
- Prioritizing sustainable forestry management, including Old-Growth forests, in recognition of the interconnectedness and link between forest fires and increased floods, erosion, and landslides.
- Recognizing First Nations’ jurisdiction to access, use, and manage their territories and resources self-determinedly. This involves transforming urban, industrial, and mining development processes and implementing consent-based approaches in line with the minimum standard of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
- Strengthening and informing state-led resource management and supporting First Nations in developing and maintaining their laws, policies, protocols, and guidelines for land, water, air, and resources within their traditional territories.
- Developing collaborative partnerships and strengthening information-sharing within and between First Nations communities, organizations, and others to care for the Earth collectively.
Climate Response and Preparedness
Goal: Ensure First Nations in BC are effectively responding to the climate emergency and current and projected climate impacts by working to reduce GHG emissions and developing their self-determined initiatives grounded in community-specific priorities
This pathway is focused on working to keep global warming below 1.5°C in line with the IPCC’s recommendation while also supporting First Nations in the development of their climate responses and initiatives grounded in community-specific priorities by:
- Assessing, identifying, and meeting community infrastructure needs to protect community and ecosystem health, adapt to climate impacts, and reduce GHG emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
- Establishing and/or maintaining culturally appropriate, energy-efficient, resilient housing and buildings within First Nations communities. This involves supporting First Nations in developing community-specific housing strategies and plans to build and manage homes and buildings and explore sustainable and affordable clean energy options.
- Effectively responding to climate-related emergencies and associated risks and impacts by strengthening First Nation-led emergency management and preparedness mechanisms and increasing collaboration between relevant entities.
- Developing community-specific climate strategies and action plans that include risk and cumulative impact assessments, monitoring of land use changes, water quality, pollution, etc. This may also involve support for First Nation-led monitoring and establishing data collection frameworks to create robust baseline data.
- Reducing GHG emissions through the phase-out of oil and gas subsidies and increased support for First Nations to reduce their emissions, strengthen their mitigation efforts, and implement nature-based solutions. This involves eliminating barriers for Nations to pursue land-based carbon offsets.
- Investing in clean energy development and ensuring First Nations can participate in a green economy. This involves reviewing and reforming Crown policies and programs to ensure accessibility and equitable opportunities for First Nations, exploring alternatives to diesel, oil, and gas, diversifying community energy sources, and investing in off-grid energy sources.
- Assessing impacts of climate change on First Nations health and wellness and developing appropriate responses to ensure long-term resiliency. As an immediate action, this involves ensuring that all First Nations have long-term and reliable access to safe and clean food and water sources.
- Ensuring First Nations’ economic independence by developing source revenue, providing appropriate revenue-sharing, and exploring sustainable and low-carbon economic development opportunities. This involves restoring the ability of First Nations to generate revenue from selling electricity through, for example, Independent Power Agreements and/or other alternatives.