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Canada’s delegation to UNPFII forging a new path forward on Indigenous climate leadership

Press Release

From: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

April 19, 2023

Indigenous leaders from around the world came together today in New York City for the 22nd session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). Leadership gathered as part of an ongoing international dialogue on Indigenous rights and Indigenous Peoples’ contributions addressing the most pressing and urgent global issues, including climate change. The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, PrairiesCan and CanNor, led Canada’s delegation to UNPFII, accompanied by a delegation that included Indigenous youth and Elders, and representatives from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada.

This year’s session, “Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change: a rights-based approach,” provided a timely opportunity to amplify the voices of Indigenous youth and climate leaders while highlighting climate action rooted in Indigenous knowledge, rights, customs, and legal traditions.

To emphasize the important contributions of Indigenous youth to climate leadership, Minister Vandal hosted a side event with young Indigenous climate leaders from British Colombia, Yukon and Nunavut, where they shared the important work taking place in their respective communities, such as the Yukon First Nations Climate Action Fellowship’s Reconnection Vision and Action Plan and the work of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami’s National Inuit Youth Council.

Indigenous Peoples have always been strong, responsible stewards of the land, air and water and are uniquely positioned to lead the way using Indigenous knowledge systems and science. They are already leading the way toward a more climate-resilient future through climate monitoring, adaptation solutions, and the transition to clean energy. Canada recognizes that Indigenous climate leadership must be the cornerstone of our domestic response to climate change, and that more must be done to support Indigenous Peoples who continue to play this role.

The Government of Canada has committed to co-developing an Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda, including distinctions-based strategies for self-determined climate action. The Agenda will help to set the long-term vision for Canada’s partnership with Indigenous Peoples on climate, in a way that respects rights, ensures access to predictable and equitable funding, and supports collaborative decision-making on climate change.

Canada will continue to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis governments, representative organizations, and communities to convene conversations, workshops, and gatherings to discuss their visions for climate leadership.

The Government of Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing Indigenous climate leadership, encouraging increased Indigenous participation in United Nations forums, and supporting Indigenous communities as they work toward their climate goals.


“Indigenous Peoples are already leading our collective response to climate change, in Canada and across the globe. Throughout my travels across the North and Arctic, I have seen firsthand the innovative, community-led energy projects being developed and implemented by Indigenous Peoples, especially by the younger generation, who have much at stake in our response to climate change. As an Indigenous member of the federal cabinet, it was a pleasure and honour to lead Canada’s delegation at this year’s session, where we have the honour to learn from Indigenous youth who are leading the response to the climate crisis in their communities. By working together in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, we are taking necessary action to fight climate change, create economic prosperity, and build a strong, healthy, sustainable future for all.”

The Honourable Dan Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for PrairiesCan and CanNor

“Attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) makes clear the plight of indigenous peoples across the globe, and that we are all unified in the goal of bringing to reality an equitable and just world. While my focus is primarily climate change during my time at the UNPFII, the overarching themes at the conference reverberate with many of my personal priorities, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to participate.”

Brian Pottle, President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami National Inuit Youth Council

Quick facts

  • The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is a high-level advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Forum was established on July 28, 2000, with the mandate to support Indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health, and human rights.
  • Canada’s Northern and Arctic regions are warming at approximately three times the global average, and Indigenous and Northern communities are on the frontlines of climate change due to their geographic location and relationship to the land, waters, and ice. Supporting Indigenous leadership and co-developing solutions to climate change in Northern communities for First Nations, Inuit and Métis is central to advancing the reconciliation journey and self-determination.
  • Budget 2022 committed $29.6 million over three years, starting in 2022–23, to co-develop an Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda and distinctions-based strategies for self-determined climate action.
  • As part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Budget 2016 and 2017 invested $220.6 million to create five climate change adaptation and mitigation programs at Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) serving Northern and Indigenous communities. These include:
    • the Northern REACHE Program;
    • the Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring Program;
    • the Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program;
    • the First Nation Adapt Program; and
    • the Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Climate Policy Program.
  • Together, these programs are supporting hundreds of Indigenous and Northern communities to identify areas of concern, assess their vulnerability to climate change impacts, plan adaptation and mitigation measures, create local economic opportunities, and build the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to enhance their climate resilience.
  • Canada’s recently launched National Adaptation Strategy has committed $50 million over five years, starting in 2023–2024, to enhance support for these programs.
  • Budget 2023 committed $1.6 billion over five years, starting in 2023–24, to implement Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy, which is currently being finalized with input from provinces, territories, National Indigenous Organizations, and other stakeholders.
  • Budget 2023 also committed $1.1 billion over seven years, starting in 2023–24, to conserve and protect nature in Canada and around the world, including $800 million to support up to four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives.
  • Launched in 2019 and developed with Indigenous representatives and six territorial and provincial governments, Canada’s Arctic and Northern Policy Framework is a long-term vision for the Arctic and the North to reflect the priorities and perspectives of Arctic and northern people, including climate action.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Kyle Allen
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs and Minister responsible for PrairiesCan and CanNor
[email protected]

Media Relations
Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
[email protected]


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