Canada Target 15

By 2020, Aboriginal traditional knowledge is respected, Goal Cpromoted and, where made available by Aboriginal peoples, regularly, meaningfully and effectively informing biodiversity conservation and management decision-making.


About the Target

Indigenous peoples have long played a leading role in land stewardship. Indigenous Knowledge (IK), built upon generations of relating to, observing, understanding and living off their land, is critical for identifying and adapting to changing environmental conditions. IK is comprised of diverse perspectives that should be considered across the distinct Indigenous groups (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) and within communities.

Many Indigenous nations, communities and individuals have accumulated knowledge that is relevant to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources. This knowledge may relate to harvesting resources, planting crops, using natural herbs and other material for medicinal purposes, and understanding changes that have occurred to local biological features and landscapes. IK can make important and beneficial contributions to conservation planning and decision making.

IK and western science can play complementary roles in supporting more effective biodiversity conservation and management in Canada.

Canada Target 15 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

  • Aichi Target 18 - By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels


2018 Interim Progress Assessment

On track to meeting target at an insufficient rate iconCanada is making progress, but at an insufficient rate to meet this target by 2020. While it is difficult to assess progress towards Canada Target 15 in a comprehensive manner, mechanisms have been identified across the country that can or are being used to integrate IK into decision-making.

Since 2014, the Government of Canada has compiled information on mechanisms, processes and procedures in place to integrate IK into decision-making. The most recent assessment found 147 discrete mechanisms illustrating the breadth of situations in which IK is explicitly recognized. These include wildlife management boards, species assessment and recovery strategies, as well as environmental impact assessment, legislation, policies and processes.

A scoping study, including case studies to assess mechanisms and governance structures through which IK can inform biodiversity conservation and management decision-making, was completed to support reporting on progress towards Canada Target 15. Please see the supplementary report on Canada Target 15, appended to Canada’s 6th National Report, for the full suite of case studies. Notable examples include the IK Subcommittee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which helps to acquire and integrate IK into COSEWIC‘s status assessment process; and, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

A key mechanism for incorporating IK into decision making is the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, whereby partners work together to combine knowledge and understanding of wildlife managers, users, and the public to make decisions concerning the management of wildlife in Nunavut. Established in 1994, this co-management board’s mission is to conserve wildlife through the application of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (the Inuit term for Indigenous Knowledge) and scientific knowledge for the long-term benefit of all Nunavut residents while fully respecting Inuit harvesting rights and priorities.

The case studies suggest that Canada is increasingly developing methods to include IK in biodiversity-related decision-making. At the same time, additional work is needed to ensure Indigenous perspectives are reflected and that knowledge holders themselves participate in decision-making processes.
Indigenous languages also play a key role in the maintenance and acquisition of IK. As such, trends in linguistic diversity and the number of speakers of these languages are considered in measuring progress towards this target.

The 2016 Canada Census suggests that there has been an increase in the number of speakers of Indigenous languages among First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations. However, this increase has not kept pace with growing population sizes, suggesting an overall decrease in the percentage of Indigenous peoples able to speak their languages. More comprehensive information on these trends will be available with the release of results from the most recent Aboriginal Peoples Survey conducted by Statistics Canada.

The Government of Canada is taking significant action to support the preservation and revitalization of Indigenous languages. For example, in 2016, the government announced that it will enact an Indigenous Languages Act to preserve, promote and revitalize these languages. In 2017, the Government of Canada committed to invest $89.9 million to support Indigenous languages and cultures through community-based projects. Funding will also be provided to support the digitization of Indigenous languages and oral histories.

Canada participates internationally in a number of relevant discussions and activities that support the Aichi targets. This includes efforts led by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a partnership between Canada, Mexico, and the United States, which aims to foster conservation, protection and enhancement of the shared North American environment. The CEC recently created a roster of experts on Traditional Ecological Knowledge to provide advice to the Council on opportunities to apply this knowledge to the CEC’s operations and activities.


Go back to Canada's Goals and Targets