Gatineau, QC –Minister Guilbeault’s statement on the eve of COP15 in Montréal:

“Indigenous peoples have been stewards and caretakers of the land, water, and ice, and leaders in ecosystem conservation, since time immemorial. We can learn from them how to live in harmony with nature.

“As the world gathers this week in Montréal for the largest United Nations Biodiversity Conference in a generation, Canada is highlighting the crucial role of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners in conserving and protecting nature and monitoring climate change.

“Indigenous peoples have unique perspectives, knowledge, rights, and responsibilities to teach, inspire, and help improve the natural balance. They have long been leaders in environmental stewardship, sustainable development, and management of the land we all share. Research from the United Nations suggests Indigenous lands make up only around 20 percent of the Earth’s territory, but contain as much as 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.

“In the spirit of reconciliation, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership to help protect ecosystems, species, and cultures now and for future generations. Canada is committed to working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis to support Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous science in nature conservation to help ensure land, water, and ice are protected and can thrive into the future. This includes initiatives that support Indigenous-led climate change monitoring and greenhouse gas reduction, species-at-risk conservation measures, and on-the-ground conservation through Indigenous Guardians initiatives.

“Indigenous-led conservation in protected and conserved areas are an essential part of Canada’s path forward, both for protecting nature and working toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Edéhzhíe Indigenous Protected Area is the first Indigenous protected area established under the Canada Nature Fund. The voices and leadership of Indigenous peoples are vital to the creation and implementation of nature-based solutions, including initiatives that conserve, restore, and enhance wetlands, peatlands, grasslands, and forests to store and capture carbon.

“Since 2017, the Government of Canada has supported the Indigenous Guardians initiative by investing more than $125 million in funding, leading to the creation of jobs by Indigenous peoples while protecting nature and wildlife. The program is supporting new and existing Indigenous Guardians initiatives and the development of Indigenous Guardians Networks for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. Budget 2021 announced an investment of up to $340 million in new funding over five years to support Indigenous leadership in nature conservation, including Indigenous Guardians and Networks, as part of Canada’s historic investment of $2.3 billion in nature conservation.

“Indigenous Guardians are the “eyes and ears on the ground” in Indigenous territories. They monitor ecological health, maintain cultural sites, and protect sensitive areas and species. At their core, Guardians’ initiatives reconnect Indigenous peoples to their relationship with the land, water, and ice of their traditional territory. This connection leads to profound benefits for both nature and the humans that rely on it. These benefits span across generations, healing communities, creating opportunities for youth, and engaging Elders for their guidance. Canada is committed to supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation to help protect ecosystems, species, and cultures for future generations.

“For Canada, progress and protection of our natural heritage can only come with true partnership among Indigenous peoples, provinces, territories, and the Government of Canada. Canada at COP15 will advocate for Target 21 to focus on ensuring effective participation of Indigenous peoples in the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework, as well as respecting their rights in the framework’s implementation.

“These are just some of the measures the Government of Canada is taking to protect nature as it prepares for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, from December 7–19. COP15 presents an opportunity for Canada, and Canadians, to show their leadership in taking actions to conserve and restore nature and halt biodiversity loss around the world.”


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