A Strategic Approach to Nature-based Climate Solutions (NbCS) in Unama’ki

Project Details

Nova Scotia
Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR)
2022 – Present
Team Member(s):
Jimena Eyzaguirre, Natascia Tamburello, Cedar Morton, Alex Tekatch, Patrick Burke, Vivian Lam
Service Area(s):
Climate Change Adaptation
Services Employed:
Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, GIS Analysis, Science Communication

The Problem We Aimed to Solve

Climate change is a pressing issue for our world as global temperatures rise and extreme weather becomes more frequent. Nature-base climate solutions (NbCS) have become a popular approach in mitigating climate change. An example is the processes of photosynthesis and growth contribution that help sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gases. NbCS has been criticized for perpetuating the status quo in private sector use, and the framing in Canadian policy that poses a barrier to Indigenous self-determination.  ESSA understands that the standard for development of NbCS requires full-prior and informed consent of Indigenous people and their involvement in ownership and/or co-government of the project. The Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources (UINR) and Mi’kmaw would like to advance NbCS using Indigenous guiding principles such as Etuapmumk, Wetaqnewssu’ti’k msit kistaqn, and Netukulimk, to help provide long-lasting benefits to biodiversity, uphold Indigenous rights, provide globally greenhouse gas reduction.

How We Helped

ESSA’s goal in this project was to develop lasting and meaningful NbCS in Unama’ki. We took a collaborative approach in the development of the Strategic Framework for Unama’ki by consulting with UINR at each stage of the project on a consensus-based approach using Etuapmumk in the framework based on the integration of Mi’kmaw worldview and values specific to Unama’ki landscape. The project workplan composed of:

  1. NbCS Knowledge Synthesis – ESSA review literature of NbCS in the context of Unama’ki, and additional literature in climate impacts on Cape Breton Island, climate justice, nature-based solutions, biocultural indicators, carbon sequestration, carbon offsets and assessment, long-term monitoring of climate change, and decolonization of climate actions. The literature review was synthesized into presentations slides for UINR.
  2. Conducting key informant interviews – The use of key informant interviews was imperative in our project as it complimented and validated our literature review. ESSA conducted interviews in alignment with Indigenous methodologies, specifically Etuapmumk (two-eyed seeing) approach: the acknowledgement of multiple perspectives. This approach was imperative for sufficient Indigenous Knowledge to complement the background and research review we completed.
  3. Conducting spatial analysis – Using spatial analytical techniques, ESSA helped identify priority sites and habitats, key properties for securement, areas with restoration potential and other relationships using the data layers provided UINR.
  4. Providing a Strategic Framework for Unama’ki Nature-based Climate Solutions – The NbCS knowledge synthesis, informant interviews, and spatial analysis helped develop a draft Strategic Framework for Unama’ki Nature-based Climate Solutsions (NbCS Strategic Framework).

Our Project’s Impacts

ESSA’s ongoing collaboration with UINR and the five Mi’kmaw communities has built capacity and synthesized knowledge on NbCS that are relevant to the communities in Unama’ki. We have identified priority habitats, areas with high restoration potential, and gathered knowledge into a strategic framework that will serve as the base for Unama’ki climate solutions. This project is guided by the principles of Netukulimk and Etuapmumk, and brings together Indigenous Knowledge and Western science.