Indigenous Climate Futures: Alternative Visions for Nature-Based Solutions

Reed, Graeme
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University of Guelph

Political traction for nature-based solutions (NbS) is rapidly growing as governments recognize their role in addressing the simultaneous climate and biodiversity crises. At the same time, recognition for the role of Indigenous Peoples in advancing ‘life-enhancing’ climate solutions has also increased. Despite this rapid growth, the exploration of the intersection of NbS and Indigenous Peoples has been much slower, as questions remain about the ability of NbS to be implemented while respecting Indigenous rights, governance, and knowledge systems. This thesis, oriented around the question What are Indigenous visions for nature-based solutions? offers the first academic review of NbS from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples. It begins with an exploration of how the Government of Canada’s conceptualization of NbS either supports or prevents Indigenous sustainable self-determination using a novel four-dimensional sustainable self-determination policy lens. The lens is used to review a total of nine federal climate policy, planning, and science documents, concluding that despite growing recognition of Indigenous rights, participation, and knowledge, an unwillingness to engage with Indigenous jurisdiction and understandings of Land remains. To address this knowledge gap, seventeen conversational interviews with Indigenous leaders, youth, men, women, technicians, and knowledge keepers from what is currently known as Canada are used to: i) explore Indigenous conceptualizations of nature, nature-based solutions, and the joint biodiversity and climate crisis; and ii) introduce a set of seven principles for Indigenous-led NbS, honouring the diversity of cultures, histories, and languages of Indigenous Peoples. Drawing on this foundation, I explore how Indigenous Peoples navigate their own NbS by examining the concept of Indigenous guardians using a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature from Australia, Canada, Aotearoa-New Zealand, and the United States. Combined, this thesis represents the first explorations of Indigenous visions of NbS, opening space for the advancement of Indigenous climate solutions for a just, equitable, and resilient future.

Indigenous Peoples, Nature-based solutions, self-determination, Climate Policy
Reed, G., Brunet, N. D., Longboat, S., & Natcher, D. C. (2021). Indigenous guardians as an emerging approach to indigenous environmental governance. Conservation Biology, 35(1), 179�??189.
Reed, G., Brunet, N. D., McGregor, D., Scurr, C., Sadik, T., Lavigne, J., & Longboat, S. (2022). Toward Indigenous visions of nature-based solutions: an exploration into Canadian federal climate policy. Climate Policy, 22(4), 514�??533.