Supporting Climate Risk Mitigation for Municipalities with Nature-Based Infrastructure: Research and Knowledge Initiative

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Nature-based climate solutions have been a focus of the NBEN through the climate adaptation and mitigation lens for many years. We have supported member organizations in implementing projects throughout the province and training and capacity-building opportunities for engineers, planners, and decision-makers through the Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise (BRACE) program. While the knowledge of and scientific support for nature-based climate solutions is vast and growing, the uptake of implementation has been slow. Through our work with the BRACE project, we identified this as a gap, particularly at the local government level. There are provincial and federal commitments to using nature-based infrastructure and projects as a part of the solution to mitigating and adapting to climate change, however, the local governments who are often the ones to implement such projects lack the capacity to do so. This is increasingly important as many rural and coastal communities in New Brunswick are subject to the worst impacts of the climate crisis, and could benefit the most from the use of nature-based solutions but may lack the resources to pursue them. The RKI project aims to develop tools and training for municipalities to support the decision-making process toward the implementation of nature-based climate solutions.

What are Nature-Based Climate Solutions?
Nature-based and natural approaches to adapting to climate change focus on implementing infrastructure that restores and protects natural areas while removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, reducing flooding and stormwater surge risks, and supporting biodiversity. Although nature-based climate solutions are well supported by scientists and the environmental sector, their uptake on a local level has been slow due to a lack of capacity and resources. The New Brunswick Government’s 2022 Climate Action Plan commits to increasing awareness of climate change risks and supporting preparedness as well as developing nature-based solutions to increase resilience and maintain biodiversity. New Brunswick is home to many small and rural communities that face high risks like flooding, storm surges, and erosion due to climate change but have little access to resources and capacity and, as such, work needs to be done to support capacity and skill building for local governments on the implementation of nature-based climate solutions.


 

Supporting Municipalities through the Research and Knowledge Initiative
The aim is to provide municipal staff and elected officials with the information, resources, tools, and training to be able to make informed decisions on the most effective solutions for their communities. In many cases, nature-based climate solutions are more cost-effective, provide more benefits to the community and the overall health and well-being of the natural environment, and are effective at managing the effects of climate change-threatening communities in New Brunswick. Through the past work on the BRACE project, an online Community of Practice on natural and nature-based infrastructure was created that provides an opportunity for the sharing of resources and tools and networking between nature-based practitioners. 

This project has four main stages:

  • Public survey of opinion on nature-based climate solutions to gage the support for and understanding of nature-based climate solutions of residents of New Brunswick

  • Engagement sessions with municipal staff, elected officials, and community leaders throughout the province to share resources and information and get input. 

  • The creation of a Cost-Benefit Analysis tool to support decision making

  • Piloting the tool in two contrasting communities and providing training for staff



 

This work is funded in part by Infrastructure Canada and the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund.



 © 2018 NBEN / RENB