Deloitte releases report on embracing Indigenous nature-based climate solutions

By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – If Canada is going to achieve its climate targets, it will have to allow Indigenous Peoples to lead the way with their nature-based solutions, according to a new report from consulting firm Deloitte. 

The report, Bringing carbon down to earth: Indigenous leadership in nature-based climate solutions, has been in the works since January. 

“For me, the connection between the need for climate action and reconciliation are inextricably linked,” Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons, who advises Deloitte’s senior management on Indigenous issues, told Alberta Native News

Kirkpatrick Parsons is a member of Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan, where her grandfather was a hunter, trapper and fisherman who lived off the land. 

“I still have relatives who live that way. Climate change has profoundly impacted Indigenous Peoples everywhere, and we certainly see it in the North, as well as other areas,” she added.

While she didn’t author the report, she was involved in an advisory role. 

Jennifer Shulman, a Deloitte Canada partner for social equity who is part of the company’s sustainability and climate change groups, served as a reviewer for the report.

“There’s certain equities and inequities that are being exacerbated by climate change,” said Shulman. “Some are directly being caused by climate change, some previously existed and are being made worse.”

The report calls on corporations, non-profits and governments to adopt its 21 recommendations, which are divided into short, medium and long-term actions under the categories of policy and jurisdiction, protocols and carbon markets, and economic empowerment and sovereignty. 

A short term action, for example, calls on the corporate, non-profit and government sectors to use the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action to bolster nation-to-nation relationships. 

In the medium term, the report calls on governments and non-profits to fund Indigenous organizations to develop an Indigenous-led registry. 

The report’s two long-term actions are for the government to do alone — to recognize the carbon rights of Indigenous governments, and to introduce monitoring, measurement and verification programs incorporating traditional practices with the latest technology to monitor carbon projects. 

“It’s not isolated for anyone and this is a problem that we all created and it’s a problem we all need to come together to solve,” said Shulman.

“No single actor can do it alone. Whether you’re the largest multinational company in the world or the largest country in the world, you alone can’t cure this.”

But as the land’s original inhabitants, Indigenous Peoples have a crucial leadership role to play, Shulman added.

“The First Nations on Turtle Island writ large have been the guardians of the land long before my ancestors were here and did a better job than we’re doing now, candidly,” she said. 

Kirkpatrick Parsons said that while much of Deloitte’s work involves assisting firms in making money, addressing climate change and promoting reconciliation is “our higher calling as an organization.”

“Indigenous Peoples have a very long history of sustainable coexistence with our territories with our knowledge systems, our ways of knowing and being. We’ve protected biodiversity for millennia and that’s why we collectively must absolutely tap into that knowledge to work together towards that better future,” said Kirkpatrick Parsons.

Deloitte’s sheer size and the range of its clientele give the firm a unique ability to bring its calls to action to fruition. 

“We’re playing our role using all the tools and resources that we have at our disposal, which are significant. We can’t leave it to governments and to NGOs to do this heavy lifting themselves,” Kirkpatrick Parsons said. 

Shulman cited the results of the recently concluded COP28 in Dubai, U.A.E., which requires each country to submit a detailed report in two years on how it plans to reduce carbon emissions by 2035, as a framework for putting the report’s words into action. 

“When we see multinational corporations in Canada, when we start to raise these issues as their consultants, as their advisors, we’ll be getting nodding heads instead of shaking heads, which is good news,” said Shulman.

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