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Braiding United Nations Global Agendas

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through the Canadian Mountain Network

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” — Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987)

Advancing sustainability is the foundation for today’s leading framework for international cooperation – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the SDGs provide a global framework for a more sustainable future, Canada cannot achieve holistic and inclusive sustainable development without centering on Indigenous leadership and working in collaboration with Indigenous peoples. 

The UN SDGs do not address the connection of Indigenous knowledge and culture to sustainable development. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous peoples, which Canada only recently adopted. Therefore, both UNDRIP and the SDGs are necessary frameworks for ensuring sustainable development.

Given the global significance of Canada’s iconic mountain regions and beyond, the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN) is committed to advancing the SDGs and UNDRIP through the braiding of Indigenous and Western knowledges.

To that end, CMN has released a series of landmark reports, prepared in collaboration with Vancouver Island University’s Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute.

Read the new reports here:

Report highlights

image braining SDGs

These reports highlight and share CMN’s research approach, which consists of braiding Indigenous and Western knowledge systems in ways that align with the overarching spirit and intent of the SDGs and UNDRIP. Furthermore, these reports illustrate the impacts and potential of braiding Indigenous knowledge and Western science in Canadian mountain systems and beyond to accelerate Canada’s capacity to deliver on its international commitments.

CMN recognizes there is continuous work to be done to respectfully braid Indigenous and Western ways of knowing and doing in the advancement of sustainability and sustainable development. CMN is grateful to play a role enabling and uplifting Indigenous voices and knowledge to advance reconciliation through research in Canada. 

The process for SDGs going forward has got to have Indigenous Peoples sitting at the forefront of those tables, at every level, from the United Nations right to local communities.

–Norma Kassi, Principal Investigator, CMN

Mountain Diagram SDGs

Working towards UNDRIP and the SDGs in Canada concurrently creates more space for Indigenous Peoples to contribute through self-determination and free, prior, and informed consent, and for non-Indigenous Canadians to take steps towards reconciliation—both of which are inextricably linked to advancement of collective wellbeing and sustainable development. One of the Principles of Reconciliation put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada requires that both Indigenous knowledge systems and the land be integrated into the reconciliation process.

This is the first funding source that is so aware and sensitive about Indigenous rights and respect for participants. It's  empowering to attend meetings where this space is created, and hopefully this continues to be the way of the future. All of this aligns with UNDRIP.

–Catherine Lambert, Knowledge Co-Leader, CMN

stargazers SDGs

By supporting Indigenous-led conservation efforts, we can uphold our commitment to human rights and reconciliation while enhancing biodiversity outcomes.

We depend on Indigenous Peoples' knowledge of their land as they know what's happening. We have hope that young people can find their way forwards and can continue being stewards of the land, water, and wildlife in their regions.

- Leon Andrew, Principal Investigator, CMN

Project Overview

Throughout 2019 and 2020, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI) conducted a review of CMN’s alignment with the SDGs. Through interviews with Principal Investigators of the research initiatives funded at that time, MABRRI identified the preliminary ways in which CMN’s work aligns with the SDGs. Work undertaken in 2021 and 2022 expands on this by focusing on the interconnectedness of sustainable development frameworks such as the SDGs and Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy, with human rights instruments such as UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. As braiding Indigenous and Western knowledge systems is at the core of bringing these frameworks and instruments together, highlighting how various CMN research and knowledge mobilization initiatives approach braiding knowledge is a main focus. 

The methodology for this project includes:

  • Review of literature, government policies and commitments, and CMN strategies

  • Interviews with network members of CMN’s funded initiatives

  • Data analysis and preparation of deliverables for public dissemination and to the Government of Canada

CMN 2022 Knowledge Sharing Summit Presentation

Project Team

  • Jenica Ng-Cornish, Project Coordinator, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute, Jenica.Ng-Cornish@viu.ca

  • Courtney Vaugeois, Project Coordinator, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute

  • Anna Lawrence, Senior Research Assistant, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute

  • Jocelyn Benji, Junior Research Assistant, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute

  • Courtenay Miller, Student Research Assistant, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute

Technical Advisory Committee

To maintain accountability in MABRRI’s work, this project is being guided by a Technical Advisory Committee, with experts in sustainable development, human rights of Indigenous Peoples, and governmental processes.

Learn more and get involved through the links below:

UN Sustainable Development Goals website – Mountain connections

Government of Canada Sustainable Development Strategy

International Institute for Sustainable Development – Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Hub

Government of Canada Funding for Projects Related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

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