An enabling governance ecosystem for scaling natural climate solutions in agriculture: Identifying key components and designing pathways forward

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University of Guelph

Abstract

Natural climate solutions can contribute to climate change mitigation in agriculture and thus improve agriculture’s projection toward 2030 targets. However, Canada has not yet established a governance ecosystem that enables widespread adoption of natural climate solutions by agricultural producers. This dissertation aims to identify an enabling governance ecosystem for scaling natural climate solutions adoption in Canada’s agriculture sector. A multiple methods approach is used in this research project, including literature reviews, an environmental scan, key informant interviews (n=51), a modified policy Delphi (n=34 in round one, n=30 in round two), and governance mapping. These methods result in identifying and defining components of an enabling governance ecosystem for scaling natural climate solutions adoption in agriculture.

The key findings of this research project include: (1) the diversity in Canada’s agriculture sector requires approaches to scaling natural climate solutions to be customizable to local context and potential for adoption; (2) the governance ecosystem that influences natural climate solutions adoption in Canada is becoming more enabling, however, in its current state, it is project specific, with a patchwork of governance mechanisms largely operating parallel to one another such that successes are suboptimal; (3) aggregated findings from engagement with experts point to four principal enabling conditions needed to overcome barriers and foster an enabling governance ecosystem for scaling natural climate solutions adoption in agriculture: (i) coordinated and coherent governance approaches, (ii) favourable market conditions, (ii) streamlined and robust measuring, reporting and verification, and (iv) capacity among actors; and (4) there is disagreement among participating experts on the role of actors, especially government, and the potential impacts of some governance mechanisms. These key findings contribute to scholarship by advancing the emerging research area of natural climate solutions governance in agriculture. The policy implications of this research project include an identification of current governance gaps that informs where innovation and reinvention in governance approaches and their implementation and design are needed. With only seven growing seasons until Canada’s 2030 climate targets, it is essential that an enabling governance ecosystem be established for scaling natural climate solutions adoption in Canada’s agriculture sector.

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Keywords

Natural climate solutions, Agriculture, Environmental governance, Canada, Agri-environmental stewardship, Enabling conditions

Citation

Ashton, L., & Bradshaw, B. (2023). Enabling conditions for scaling natural climate solutions in Canada's agriculture sector. Nature-Based Solutions, 3, 100071. http://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nbsj.2023.100071
Ashton, L. (2022). A framework for promoting natural climate solutions in the agriculture sector. Land Use Policy, 122, 106382. http://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2022.106382
Ashton, L., Lieberman, H.P., Morrison, C., Samson, M-E. (2023). Carbon sequestration in Canada's croplands: A review of multiple disciplines influencing the science policy interface. Environmental Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1139/er-2022-0129