March 31, 2021

Haida law of gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagiida and Indigenous rights in conservation finance

Globally, we are facing an existential threat to biodiversity from human activities that have intruded into terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial ecosystems, exacerbating global warming. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that climate change “is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed the world.” Corporations and financial institutions increasingly recognize the enormous financial risks associated with biodiversity loss. The World Economic Forum reports that $44 trillion of economic value is dependent on nature ─ value currently at risk as a result of biodiversity loss. Accounting for Sustainability reports that healthy biodiversity increases the resilience of an ecosystem to climate change.

One strategy to protect and enhance biodiversity is conservation finance, which is an emerging set of tools to develop public-private partnerships that create environmentally sustainable financial products and investment strategies that can generate returns for investors while safeguarding ecosystems and offering co-benefits to people and the planet.

Conserving biodiversity can be informed by the Haida law of gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagiida, which translates as ‘interconnectedness’, recognizing that everything depends on everything else. In the Haida world view, the natural, human, and supernatural worlds are deeply interconnected and proper management considers all of these realms; in this respect, it is essential for companies and investors to consider the impacts of their activities on Indigenous Peoples, laws, and rights. This report discusses the importance of protecting biodiversity and highlights three significant examples of Indigenous partnership in conservation finance. As seen in the models implemented in the Gwaii Trust, the Great Bear Rainforest, and Twin Sisters, conservation finance has provided essential financing for protection of ecosystems and is a meaningful step in reconciliation between Indigenous Nations and the rest of the country.

This is a Canada Climate Law Initiative publication.