Greenbelt Foundation Makes Pivotal Investment in
Natural Asset Inventories
$500K to be Invested, Helping Canadian Communities Prepare for
TORONTO, November 30, 2020—With significant support from a private donor, the Greenbelt Foundation is making its largest investment to date—over $500,000—in helping municipalities in the Greenbelt and across Canada shift to using nature to deliver critical community services, like stormwater management.
“Across Canada, natural assets—like wetlands, forests, and river valleys—are increasingly important for mitigating and protecting Canadians against the effects of climate change,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “Natural assets, which work together to deliver important ecosystem services like flood protection and improvements to air quality, need to be protected, included in municipal planning, and grown where possible.”
With this new funding, the Greenbelt Foundation will work with the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) to assist more than 30 new Canadian municipalities in achieving natural asset inventories, helping build nation-wide support for natural solutions to climate change and costly infrastructure needs. The Foundation and MNAI will complete the largest cluster of municipal natural asset inventories in the country. Inventories, which identify a given region’s natural assets, are the first step in achieving full-scale municipal natural asset management programs.
Canada’s built infrastructure (i.e. roads, sewer systems, etc.) requires an estimated investment of $5.3 billion per year in order to keep pace with the effects of climate change, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Community climate models reveal stark realities: increased flooding, extreme heat days, water pollution and drought, with a dramatic acceleration of these impacts between 2040 and 2050, overwhelming municipal budgets and posing threats to residential and commercial property.
By formally managing natural assets as we would traditional infrastructure, municipalities can position nature to provide the infrastructure their communities need at dramatically reduced cost—mitigating flooding, filtering and storing freshwater, and cooling the air. Natural assets are often more equipped than traditional infrastructure to provide key services in climate change scenarios. They also provide co-benefits, including capturing carbon and protecting biodiversity by protecting habitat.
Natural asset management programs also create much-needed local jobs, in fields such as planning, construction, stewardship, and monitoring. According to a US figure, the job creation resulting from investments in natural assets could be as high as 33 jobs per $1 million US invested. These jobs typically stay within the community, unlike some traditional infrastructure projects which are completed by large, outside companies.
“Durham Region has identified the considerable return-on-investment potential of natural infrastructure projects,” says Ian McIvey, Manager of Sustainability, Region of Durham, Ontario. “In addition to funding natural infrastructure programs, we request that the Government of Canada provide support to learn, understand, and quantify its benefits in the context of municipal asset management planning.”
Prior to this announcement, the Greenbelt Foundation was already one of Canada’s largest investors in municipal natural asset management, delivered through a partnership with MNAI that began in 2018.
“In order to mitigate the impacts of climate change, we need more of Canada’s approximately 3,600 local governments to develop inventories and take this first step to natural asset management,” says Roy Brooke, Executive Director of MNAI. “This project will more than double the number of local governments involved in natural asset management with MNAI, speed up the process, and help more communities continue to deliver the core services their communities rely on in a cost-effective and climate-resilient way.”
About Greenbelt Foundation: Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario’s Greenbelt is the world’s largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.
Media Contact: Michael Young, Communications Advisor
(416) 960-0001 x 311 [email protected]
About Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI): The Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) is changing the way municipalities deliver everyday services – increasing the quality and resilience of infrastructure at lower costs and reduced risk. MNAI provides scientific, economic and municipal expertise to support and guide local governments in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs and developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure.
MNAI is also developing guidance and tools that will eventually become norms, to ensure inventories are undertaken in ways that are comparable, effective and replicable, and ensuring the emergence of related curriculum and certifications.
Media Contact: Cheekwan Ho, Communications Manager
Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI) [email protected]