Phase 1 of ACT's work on building biodiversity health while achieving low carbon resilience in a changing climate took place from 2017-2018, and examined ways local governments can collaborate across their borders through transboundary municipal ecosystem governance to support biodiversity survival in a changing climate, while gaining benefits for both adaptation and emissions reductions.
Climate change impacts such as flooding and extreme heat are projected to increase in British Columbia over the next few decades and will be extremely costly for cities to manage. As well, species are struggling to adapt to changing weather patterns and climate extremes combined with the impacts of human development. Planning for resilience while reducing emissions is more important than ever.
Restoring and maintaining ecosystems to respond to these issues is cheaper than using hard infrastructure and has multiple benefits. Ecosystems can absorb and store both flood waters and carbon, and increase resilience while reducing emissions at the same time in other ways as well, such as reducing the impacts of extreme heat and therefore the need for air conditioning. Ecosystem presence has also been shown to increase property values, contribute to physical and mental health, and help other species survive both climate change and the impacts of human development.
Experts are beginning to attribute value to ecosystems at the level of capital assets, acknowledging the benefits provided by water bodies, forests, aquifers and foreshores and the extraordinary costs that would be required to replace them. Cities stand to gain the most from ecosystem benefits, given the localized effects of climate change. But many ecosystems cross municipal boundaries, and cities often lack the capacity for collaboration that is essential to restore and maintain ecosystem health, resulting in fragmentation and loss of these values and benefits. However, cities can achieve these goals and enjoy the benefits by partnering with neighbouring cities and community members to ensure ecosystem health.
A Case Study of Transboundary Municipal Ecosystem Governance