April 22, 2024

By: Malorie Bertrand

Many Canadians have experienced the positive mental and physical benefits of being in nature, such as strolling through a park or going for a dip in the sea. But we often forget these types of benefits when making decisions about conservation and development. To make a strong case for conserving and restoring our natural assets, we must consider the full value of nature’s social, environmental, and economic impacts.

Today, on Earth Day, we at the Smart Prosperity Institute (SPI) celebrate our beautiful planet by highlighting the work of our Land-Use, Nature, and Agriculture (LUNA) team. This team works to advance a prosperous Canadian economy that is inclusive and nature-smart. This economy recognizes the value of natural (for example grasslands) and working landscapes (for example farmlands) as drivers of resilience and community revitalization.

This year, the team is partnering with Nature United to advance a business case for investing in natural climate solutions (NCS) as an efficient and affordable way to grow Canada’s low-carbon economy and support community development. LUNA also recently contributed to the newly launched Nature Investment Hub (NIH), a solution space of Generate Canada. The LUNA team supports NIH's efforts to drive a fivefold increase in nature-based investments across Canada. LUNA's Invest in Nature report — the first link in the list of publications below — catalyzed the Hub’s creation.

The other side of the nature-smart economy coin is realizing the socio-economic and environmental potential of our working landscapes. This is why LUNA is partnering with farmers, governments, Indigenous communities, and the agri-food industry to push environmental progress. It is doing so while supporting a prosperous and innovative sector, flourishing farmer livelihoods, and ensuring our food system remains equitable and respectful of the needs of all. Currently, the team is working in support of the Stein-Nahatlatch Initiative, which aims to advance an Indigenous-led vision for a regional conservation economy. The team has also partnered with the CSA Group and Regeneration Canada to include more farmer voices in the transformation of regional food systems. 

We at SPI know that a thriving planet and its inhabitants are the pillars of true economic prosperity. From nature conservation, restoration, and land use, to agriculture and rural revitalization, here are five snapshots of our nature-based work that contribute to inspiring a prosperous and sustainable economy:


READ THE REPORT: Invest in Nature: Scaling Conservation Finance in Canada for a Nature-Smart Economy and Investing in the Future of Ontario’s Greenbelt

The public and private sectors are making great investments in Canada’s natural assets to harness their potential to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss, but it is not enough. These reports explore the barriers and opportunities to grow the country’s market for more investments in nature.


READ THE REPORTS ON NUNAVUT’S CONSERVATION ECONOMY: Inuit-led Economic Development: An Overview of Nunavut’s Blue Conservation Economy and Conservation Economies in Nunavut: Aviqtuuq Case Study

These reports explore the economic, social, environmental, and cultural value of Nunavut’s ‘blue conservation economy’ and identify conservation-based economic activities ripe for investment.


READ THE POLICY BRIEF: Protecting Northern Peatlands: A vital cost-effective approach to curbing Canada’s climate impact

Canada’s peatlands are critical carbon stores that must be better protected and maintained to help us meet our climate targets. Unfortunately, we do not know how disturbances to peatlands such as from industrial development or fires impact their ability to capture and store emissions. This brief discusses Canada’s need for better data and policy about emissions from boreal peatlands to meet our climate targets and offers practical policy and investment opportunities.  


READ THE GUIDEBOOK: Extending the Funding Canopy: A guidebook on estimating the economic value of nature-based solutions

Investing in nature conservation, restoration, and sustainable resource management should be part of a resilient economic recovery. There are barriers to public and private financing of these projects, including the issue that those who propose nature-based solutions (NBS) to problems like climate change or biodiversity loss lack the data to make the economic case for their projects. This guidebook aims to remove this barrier by helping NBS practitioners make the case.


READ THE REPORT: Carbon Offsets for Farmers

Canada’s farmers wear many hats, from land stewards and business owners to accountants and food producers. If they are interested in generating new income from their land with carbon offsets, it has to be easy and profitable for them to do so. This report is an overview of the carbon offsets landscape in Canada, giving farmers the information they need to decide whether to enter the market and how. SPI’s work on simplifying access to these markets and making it easier for farmers to enter them is ongoing, so keep an eye out for more on this topic.


Read more about our work on conserving and valuing nature and stay tuned for updates on our work with Nature United on the economic potential of natural climate solutions.

Malorie Bertrand

Director of Communications