Since time immemorial, First Nations have emphasized the importance of living in balance with Mother Earth.

National Climate Strategy Central to our culture, language, and livelihood is a deep connection to the Land, Water, and Environment.

In 2016, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Elders’ Council released an Elders’ Statement on Environment and Climate Change, acknowledging the climate crisis. In the face of government inaction, an increasing number of First Nations have taken matters into their own hands, calling for rapid de-carbonization to meet the target of the Paris Agreement. This landmark statement by the AFN Elders Council laid the foundation for AFNs climate action, representing the guiding vision of the AFN National Climate Strategy.

The escalating impact of climate change led First Nations-in-Assembly to pass a range of mandates and resolutions, amplifying the importance and centrality of First Nation approaches to climate action. Since 2016, eleven such climate-related resolutions have been passed.

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In July 2019, First Nations-in-Assembly passed Resolution 05/2019, Declaring a First Nations Climate Emergency.This resolution mandated the AFN to organize National Climate Gatherings and develop a National Climate Strategy.

Since then, the AFN began its journey to develop the first National Climate Strategy, facilitated through two National Climate Gatherings, national and regional webinars, and two surveys. The first National Climate Gathering was held to discuss the Climate Strategy and the First Nations Climate Lens was held in March 2020 in Whitehorse, Yukon, on the territory of the Ta’an Kwächän and the Kwanlin Dün. In 2022, the AFN hosted the second National Climate Gathering in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on the traditional unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaq, and Peskotomuhkati peoples.

Watch the video: 2nd AFN National Climate Gathering Overview – Preserving our Environment, Lands, and Waters for Future Generations

Alongside these gatherings, the AFN National Climate Strategy has been discussed regularly with the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACE). These discussions occurred during weekly video conferences, in-person meetings, and presented during Dialogue Sessions held at the AFN Annual General Assemblies and Special Chiefs Assemblies. Members of the AFN Secretariat have also been analyzing federal and international climate legislation, regulation, policy, and programs. To finalize AFN National Climate Strategy, the AFN held a series of additional webinars with the ACE, the AFN Secretariat, and representatives from the AFN Knowledge Keepers’ Council, and the AFN National Youth Council. Over one thousand First Nation experts, leaders, youth, men, women, and 2SLGBTQIAA+ individuals, Knowledge Keepers, professionals, and allies from coast-to-coast-to-coast have participated in this process.

Watch the video: 2nd AFN National Climate Gathering – Youth-led Climate Solutions

In July 2023, AFN passed Resolution 36/2023, Urgent and Transformative Climate Action through the AFN National Climate Strategy, endorsing the AFN National Climate Strategy and reaffirming the declaration of a First Nations Climate Emergency from Resolution 05/2019. Resolution 36/2023 also endorses the AFN National Climate Strategy and its seven key priority areas of action. Additionally, it urges federal, provincial, and territorial governments to work directly and in full partnership with First Nations rights and title holders to implement self-determined First Nations climate priorities, including



Path to the National Climate Strategy

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The AFN National Climate Strategy First Nations Climate Leadership offers an opportunity to re-operationalize First Nations legal systems and assert First Nations jurisdiction.

It means holding all levels of government accountable for their commitment and obligations under the Paris Agreement and creating space for First Nations to lead the way with decarbonization plans.

The AFN National Climate Strategy is developed with distinct objectives:

  • To uplift First Nations’ rights, self-determination, and knowledge systems within federal, provincial, and territorial climate action.
  • To promote First Nations-led solutions to the climate crisis, grounded in their rights, self-determination, and knowledge systems.
  • To advocate for urgent and transformative climate action aligned with the First Nations-in-Assembly Declaration of a First Nations Climate Emergency.

Furthermore, AFN National Climate Strategy ensures that First Nations governance, laws and priorities breathe life into the Government of Canada’s climate plans committing to “position Indigenous climate leadership as a cornerstone of a strengthened climate plan.”

Download the AFN National Climate Strategy


The National Climate Strategy introduces seven priority areas:

  1. Prioritize First Nations Knowledge Systems, health, languages, cultures, and spiritualities.
  2. Recognize, respect, and position First Nations Inherent jurisdiction and right to self-determination as central to climate decision-making at all levels.
  3. Address capacity needs to support First Nations governance and their role as climate leaders.
  4. Ensure First Nations self-sufficiency in food, water, and energy.
  5. Close the natural and built infrastructure gap.
  6. Ensure First Nations are equipped to mitigate, prevent, respond, and recover from all emergencies.
  7. Leverage the Climate Lens to reform federal, provincial and territorial legislation, regulation, policy, and programs.

Each priority area coincides with a specific goal, a set of objectives, and a detailed list of strategies and actions. Altogether, the strategy presents 108 strategies and actions, each complimented with recommendations for implementation partners.

To achieve the vision set forth in the AFN National Climate Strategy, federal, provincial, and territorial governments must work directly and in full partnership with First Nations rights and title holders to implement self-determined First Nations climate priorities. This includes providing sufficient and sustainable funding for each First Nation.

First Nations Climate Lens Key Elements of the National Climate Strategy

First Nations Climate Lens

Underpinning the Climate Strategy is the First Nations Climate Lens. This tool is designed to transition away from the overemphasis on ‘technological solutions’ and ‘market-based mechanisms’ towards a framing that emphasizes the centrality of First Nations’ rights, self-determination, and knowledge systems. 

The Climate Lens contains four concentric circles – Natural Law, Worldviews, Lived Reality, and Context. Together, they bring into focus First Nations climate solutions. These solutions call for systemic change and a revitalization of a value system that is grounded in deep reciprocal relationship with the Land and Water.

Artist Acknowledgement

Eruoma Awashish is an Atikamekw Nehirowisiw mother and artist who is committed to her nation. She works in a variety of mediums, including painting, installation, performance, video, silkscreening and traditional dance. Awashish grew up in the community of Opitciwan. She is now established in Pekuakami (Lac-Saint-Jean), and her studio is located in the Ilnu community of Mashteuiatsh. She holds an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts from the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.

National Climate Strategy Resources These are our latest reports, resolutions and other documents on the subject of National Climate Strategy. To see more documents on this topic, and all other public AFN documents,

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