In municipalities across Canada, infrastructure is aging, capital costs are rising and service delivery is strained by growing populations. Ecosystems are in decline and climate change is exacerbating these challenges. Local governments are looking for ways to better manage their nature and the valuable ecosystem services nature provides.
One way is to include nature as an asset in financial accounts along with infrastructure like sidewalks and roads. Natural assets that provide services like flood control and water filtration haven’t been considered on equal footing or included in asset management plans — until now.
Where we are now
The Foundation is a founding member of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative. Pilot projects across Canada are beginning to demonstrate that natural assets — like wetlands and floodplains — can be more cost-effective and resilient than conventional engineered infrastructure. They are finding less depreciation and risk and more secondary benefits from natural assets.
Local governments are seeing advantages of considering nature on equal footing with engineered assets like sidewalks and roads. For the first time, natural assets are appearing in financial accounts and asset management plans. Communities are finding a way to consider nature as a tool to prepare for climate change and the onset of more severe and intense flooding and other challenges. The hope is that an eco-assets approach will help give municipalities information to make better decisions by factoring in the value of nature.
1 in 5
One in five Canadians faces some level of flood risk, and 1.8 million households are at very high risk.
The 2013 Alberta floods alone cost more than $6 billion.
Canadians personally shoulder about $600 million each year in losses related to flooding.
Natural asset management is proving its value in the field
While Canada focuses on efforts to reduce climate change, there’s growing recognition that we can’t meet our climate change goals without finding ways to adapt. A natural assets management approach has the advantage of addressing both mitigation and adaptation, taking us to the next level of policy solutions.
Environmental Economist and Policy Analyst
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Municipal Natural Assets Initiative: City of Grand Forks, British Columbia
While Canada focuses on efforts to reduce climate change, there’s growing recognition that we must also find ways to adapt. The City of Grand Forks, which made headlines recently for devastating floods, has done so by managing natural asset benefits provided by the Kettle River floodplain.
Municipal Natural Assets Initiative: Town of Oakville
While Canada focuses on efforts to reduce climate change, there’s growing recognition that we must also find ways to adapt. The Town of Oakville, which is losing green space to development, considered the Maplehurst remnant channel in relation to natural asset conversions.
Municipal Natural Assets Initiative: City of Nanaimo, B.C.
While Canada focuses on efforts to reduce climate change, there’s growing recognition that we must also find ways to adapt. The City of Nanaimo has found that a marsh conservation area provides stormwater detention benefits commensurate with engineered infrastructure.