We are facing a new challenge with unknown, long-term implications. Over the past few months, we have all experienced an unprecedented shift in the way we interact with the world. At Nature United, we are working hard to adapt, learning from nature. Strength is borne from flexibility—one of nature’s most important lessons. Resilience allows us to spring, stretch, and shift directions when the unexpected hits.
It’s important now to make time for things that truly matter. Our top priority has been to take care of ourselves, spending (virtual) time with family and friends, and finding ways to stay connected to nature. Nature offers us constant hints of hope and new beginnings. Protecting nature helps us feel connected to one another and to the people and communities we work with on the ground. At a time when it’s easy to feel helpless, our work reminds us how much good we can do together.
As an organization, Nature United believes that the increased authority and capacity of Indigenous peoples to steward their lands and waters is critical for the future of healthy ecosystems and communities, and it results in effective and durable sustainable management over time. Learn more.
Our Priorities: Safety and Support
Our first priority was to ensure the safety of all of our team members. We took swift action to close our offices, ensure everyone was set up to work from home, and increase our capabilities to connect virtually. I’m incredibly proud of our team who has shown resilience and flexibility during these challenging times. Everyone of our colleagues has been willing to lend a helping hand, understanding that for some, this is a time to lean in; for others, they need to lean out to look after loved ones. Finding balance has been a challenge—but at the same time, second nature. Collaboration and respect for others are fundamental to our ethos and engrained in our team culture.
Our next priority was to reach out to our Indigenous partners and see how we can help them as they grapple with the many challenges posed by the pandemic and economic downturn. We remain committed to putting listening and learning first when working in partnership with Indigenous peoples, particularly now as they redefine their priorities and keep critical work moving forward.
Over the past two months, this has led us to provide specialized COVID-19 response training and support for the Indigenous Guardian programs and networks across Canada. Launched in early 2020, the Technical Support Team is a flexible, remote resource team that has become critical during COVID-19. The Technical Support Team has provided virtual courses on tactical communications to support Guardians in their work enforcing community closures, knowledge sharing webinars, and support for strengthening Guardian programs. We have also provided virtual resources and support for Indigenous youth through our Emerging Leaders initiative to support young leaders during this time of social isolation.
Looking Forward: Economic Recovery
Our projects need flexibility, which allows us to be responsive to critical needs. We are adapting across all areas of our work, including emergency grants and flexibility on existing agreements to help communities in key project areas to maintain land stewardship program capacity and continuity. These programs are an important source of livelihood in small communities. We are also providing ecological economics training for conservation staff to increase our capacity to deliver conservation strategies aimed at economic recovery.
Looking beyond the immediate response, we are working hard to keep on-the-ground work moving forward, and we are pursuing partnerships to help us rebuild a Canada where people and nature are united, where ecosystems, communities and economies thrive. In the coming months and years, the Canadian government will invest billions in economic stimulus funding to reboot our economy. This is the time for leaders in philanthropy, business, Indigenous communities and government to find new pathways toward a sustainable Canada that includes healthy lands, waters and climate. This is the time for bold leadership and action to build the future we want.
We need to ensure that nature—thriving and full of life—is the foundation of strong communities, a prosperous economy, and a future worth passing on to our grandchildren. Done right, nature can create jobs and support inclusive local economies. Conservation can be a force for greater social equity and reconciliation. To that end, we are working with partners and other conservation organizations to make recommendations on opportunities for investment that provide the highest return, for people and nature.
A Critical Moment for Action
Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the greatest threats the world faces. These twin crises pose enormous risks for communities and economies around the world. A failure to act on them now will result in even more suffering. Action on the climate crisis is not only a moral obligation, it is an existential imperative. And all paths to a better world depend on our ability to protect the lands and waters that provide us clean air, clean water, healthy food, and a stable climate.
We know that programs like Indigenous Guardians provide vital jobs and result in a 10:1 return to communities on economic, environmental, and social benefits. We know that nature-based solutions for climate change can deliver more than a third of the reductions required by 2030 to prevent dangerous levels of global warming—as well as a host of cobenefits including economic resilience.
Thank You for Your Support
None of this is done alone. We are enormously grateful for the continued support of our donors and partners during this challenging time. We have been touched by so many of our supporters who have asked how they can help, and that even despite the uncertain economic outlook, are willing to lean in financially.
We look forward to working with in close partnership with our peers, supporters, governments and Indigenous partners with to navigate in the new world that lies ahead. The time is now, and we are ready to chart the course to a future, thriving and full of life, for nature and people.
Nature United was founded as a Canadian charity in 2014, building on decades of conservation in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, our organization has field staff located across the country. Nature United supports Indigenous leadership, sustainable economic development and science and large-scale conservation, primarily in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Manitoba. Our organization is also working to accelerate Natural Climate Solutions at national and regional scales. To learn more, visit natureunited.ca or follow @natureunited_ca.
We are the Canadian affiliate of The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization with more than a million members and a diverse team that includes more than 400 scientists. Our global organization works in 79 countries — either directly or through partnerships — to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press.