Linking a Changing Climate with a Changing Traditional Diet: Mobilizing Knowledge for Adaptation (2017-2021)
Yukon communities and First Nations have expressed urgent concerns that changes in the climate are negatively impacting traditional food availability and compelling residents to turn to alternative food choices, which are often nutritionally inferior and expensive (Council of Canadian Academies, 2014). The Yukon food system (which is made up of a mix of market, locally produced and harvested traditional foods) is and will continue being, impacted by climate change, thus planning for the future is imperative for taking advantage of adaptation opportunities and to mitigate, where possible, the climate change threats to health and wellbeing. Advancing sustainable food systems is a way to promote food security and adapt to, and mitigate against, climate change. It is estimated that only 2% of foods currently consumed by Yukoners are locally produced, with limited data available to assess the contribution of traditional harvested foods in Yukoners’ diets. Communities across the North are calling for more northern-based and northern-bred climate change adaptation initiatives/strategies, led by communities. There is also a desire for more knowledge sharing between communities about what is working and how to build from it.
Goal and Objectives:
This project has two main phases; in Phase 1, a literature scoping review was done to explore the impacts of climate change on traditional and local food consumption in the Yukon. This was conducted to identify existing baseline data and methodologies of interest to inform future work and help scope future phases of this project. A number of indicators and methodologies of key Yukon dietary studies were analyzed; however, it was decided that a follow-up to these studies, using the same methodologies was not realistic within the current scope of the project. As such, the goal of the project has shifted from characterizing changes in diets to characterizing adaptation, mobilizing existing knowledge and evaluating promising practices in order to inform policy areas and community action for climate change adaptation.
The second phase of this project, we will seek to answer two questions:
How are communities adapting their food systems to climate change?
What else is needed to ensure food security and traditional food security?
Building off of previous projects, two inventories of climate change and food systems initiatives are being developed, which will be available to the public through two virtual mapping applications online (see Healthy Living Inventory). These maps will help to mobilize stories and information and will be analyzed to identify gaps in programming/services as well as promising projects. The inventories and stories will be shared with communities through community workshops and through development of other knowledge products in the hopes of inspiring community action; they will also be shared with policy makers and partners across the North to help inform future policy, funding areas and programs for climate change adaptation and food systems development in the North.
We are partnering with the Government of Yukon's Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (Agriculture Branch) and Department of Environment (Climate Change Secretariat) on this project. A steering committee was also set up to guide the project from the outset. Members of the steering committee include our partners, our internal team at AICBR, two academic experts in nutrition and Indigenous food systems at McGill University, a climate change researcher at Yukon College, and the Yukon First Nations community liaison at the Council of Yukon First Nations.
Funding & Support:
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's Climate Change Preparedness in the North Program
Esri Canada and the K-12 Education Team