Friday November 3, 2023 | VANCOUVER, BC [Updated 12:41 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Today BC Premier David Eby was joined by federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault and First Nations Leadership Council representatives in Vancouver for a major announcement about protecting and conserving biodiversity, habitats and species at risk in British Columbia.
Also there for the federal government was Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Patrick Weiler, member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.
Backing up the BC flank was Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Minister Nathan Cullen.
The First Nations leadership was there in Regional Chief Terry Teegee, British Columbia Assembly of First Nations; Robert Phillips, First Nations Summit; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs; and Chief Jennifer Thomas, Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
This comes on the heels of a similar BC announcement last week at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, where Eby, Cullen, together with Forestry Minister Bruce Ralston and Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman announced biodiversity protections for the province’s natural spaces.
Ralston and Heyman were also in Vancouver today as well as Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Minister Josie Obsorne whose work with Heyman laid the BC groundwork for today’s announcement.
Guilbeault called the support of $500 million over eight years — together with the $300 million from BC & the BC Parks Foundation (announced October 27, 2023 in Victoria) is an important agreement toward reaching protection of 30% of the natural environment by 2030.
This announcement comes on the heels of the October 27 announcement of the $300 million in provincial funding, by Premier Eby and several ministers in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park.
“When climate change puts nature under threat, this challenges people too,” said Guilbeault. “In the climate fight, our greatest protector is nature,” the federal environment and climate change minister said.
Premier Eby called it “a paradigm shift about protecting ecosystems”. He reiterated his stance that protecting the environment and growing the economy are “not separate, they are linked… we need both things”.
Lasting and durable:
Conservation efforts need to be thought of in a new way, said Minister Cullen, to make it “lasting and durable” for future generations. He said that the work is “Indigenous led”.
Later in social media Cullen said: “It’s a good day in B.C.!! We joined with the First Nation Leadership Council and Canada to announce the signing of the biggest conservation agreement in Canada’s (and BC’s) history. With this new federal money we are putting over $1 billion in for indigenous-led conservation.” He added: “Much work ahead – desperately needed – to fight biodiversity loss & climate change.”
“The Nature Agreement marks a historic moment of First Nations, the province and federal government coming together to achieve the collective goal of biodiversity protection, restoration and stewardship,” said Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Minister Josie Obsorne. She is pleased that the agreement commits to protecting 30% of BC’s water & land by 2030.
Federal news release:
The federal government posted their own news release about today’s announcement, saying that the agreement acknowledges, affirms, and enables the expression of the unique rights and interests of First Nations in the province.
“Canada, British Columbia (B.C.), and the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) have signed a Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation to strengthen conservation efforts provincewide. This is the first of its kind agreement involving federal and provincial governments and First Nations.”
Financial contributions by Canada and B.C. under this Agreement are strategically coordinated and could be directed to leverage additional provincial and third-party investments into conservation financing.
Part of today’s news release included: “Ensure our cities and towns help nature, through pilot projects in support of the National Program for Ecological Corridors.”
BC Greens comment:
“We applaud First Nations leadership on this historic agreement, on further protection for old-growth forests, and support for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives,” said BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau today.