Achieving co-benefits of climate and biodiversity action in Canadian municipalities

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Richman, Carolyn Ann
The deeply interconnected climate and biodiversity crises are driving us to a critical global tipping point. Despite worldwide calls for integrated solutions by international agreements and researchers, climate change and biodiversity loss are too often addressed separately. Interest in and work on nature-based solutions (NbS) is expanding rapidly in response to the need for viable, integrated solutions. Recent research has shown that urban municipalities, at the forefront of addressing these challenges, have started incorporating NbS and integrated approaches. Awareness and interest in NbS have recently been increasing in Canada, but the overall use of NbS and integrated approaches by Canadian municipalities has been undocumented. This research investigated the extent to which large municipalities in Canada (>100,000 population) are implementing NbS to address both climate change and biodiversity loss. Through document analysis and interviews, results show that Canadian municipalities are using NbS to varying degrees with an increasing trend, but the NbS concept and the use of principles and standards is unclear in municipal plans. Some Canadian municipalities are integrating climate and biodiversity planning, but the use of NbS is not always an indicator of integrated practices. Recommendations include the need for common language, and development of a clear NbS concept and approaches in municipal plans. Canadian municipalities need to use principles and standards to guide NbS and ensure measurable biodiversity benefits. They would benefit from increasing forums to share information and experiences in order to increase understanding, address NbS barriers and respond to the urgent need for integrated solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss.
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