Advancing Natural Infrastructure 2024 Forum
Hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, together with WaterSMART Solutions and the Natural Assets Initiative, the Advancing Natural Infrastructure 2024 Forum is a premier opportunity to discuss the state of play of natural infrastructure on the Prairies and shape the future of Prairie water infrastructure by working with nature.
Be part of the conversation as we bring together local leaders, champions, and experts to explore
- real-world examples of natural infrastructure on the Prairies
- practical guidance for implementation
- key paths for scaling.
This event is geared toward municipal leaders, infrastructure practitioners, planners, and watershed groups curious about how they can work with nature to support water infrastructure, climate adaptation, and more.
SOLD OUT - Registration is now closed for in-person attendance.
The Advancing Natural Infrastructure Forum 2024 is being held February 21 and 22, 2024 at the Alt Hotel Calgary University District at 482 McLaurin Street NW.
We're happy to announce that a few of our sessions—including our keynote by Joanna Eyquem from the Intact Centre on Climate Change Adaptation—will be streamed live.
Two Zoom streams will be available on Day One and Day Two of the forum. Please register at the following links to attend. The forum is being held in Mountain Time (MT), this converter can help you find the time in your time zone.
Advancing Natural Infrastructure Forum Day One Hybrid Participation
Join us virtually from 1:45pm - 4:25pm (MT) for:
Keynote Address: Accelerating the Natural Shift in Infrastructure and Adaptation
- Our Keynote Speaker is Joanna Eyquem from the Intact Centre on Climate Change Adaptation who will frame what natural infrastructure is and profile the latest developments in resilient infrastructure and climate adaptation in Canada and across the Prairies.
Natural Infrastructure for Water: Bright Spots
- Communities across the Prairies are turning to natural infrastructure to help manage stormwater and wastewater, reduce flooding, and support water security, while providing other benefits. This session will showcase leading efforts (“bright spots”) with demonstrable benefits for infrastructure, communities, and ecosystems.
Advancing Natural Infrastructure Forum Day Two Hybrid Participation
Join us virtually from 1pm - 2:15pm (MT) for:
Money Matters: Funding and Finance for Natural Infrastructure
- Funding is a critical enabler for implementing natural infrastructure initiatives. However, Prairie communities often lack clarity on available funding sources and how to access them. This session will provide a high-level overview of current and future funding programs, as well as showcase leading examples of successful Prairie projects implemented via unique funding models.
Day One • Feb 21, 2024 • 1–4:30 p.m.
- Welcome and opening remarks from co-hosts
- Opening invocation from Leonard Weasel Traveller (Piikani Nation, Blackfoot Confederacy)
- Forum Overview and Introductions
Keynote Speaker: Joanna Eyquem, Intact Centre on Climate Change Adaptation
Momentum for natural infrastructure is growing. Joanna Eyquem will frame what natural infrastructure is and profile the latest developments in resilient infrastructure and climate adaptation in Canada and across the Prairies.
Communities across the Prairies are turning to natural infrastructure to help manage stormwater and wastewater, reduce flooding, and support water security while providing other benefits. This session will showcase leading efforts (“bright spots”) with demonstrable benefits for infrastructure, communities, and ecosystems.
- Dimple Roy (IISD), Moderator
- Erica Yaholnitsky (City of Calgary, AB)
- Alvin First Rider (Blood Tribe Land Management)
- Jessie Best (City of Saskatoon, SK)
- Daniel Karran (Olds College, AB)
Day Two • Feb 22, 2024 • 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
- Welcome and opening remarks from co-hosts
- Remarks from Roger Ramcharita (Executive Director, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas)
- Day Two Overview
What is the business case for investment in natural infrastructure? This session will explore the value proposition of natural infrastructure for water management and how the challenges and barriers associated with making a strong business case for investment can be overcome.
- Kim Sturgess (WaterSMART Solutions)
- Mike Nemeth (Nutrien)
- Mathew Langford (EPCOR)
- Edwin Piñero (Ecometrics)
What tools and approaches are helping local governments, watershed stewards, and others design and implement NI? This session will focus on key practical considerations facing NI implementation at the local level, including asset management, design standards, governance, and planning.
- Roy Brooke (Natural Assets Initiative), Moderator
- Krista Quesnel (Parkland County, AB)
- Duane Nicol (City of Selkirk, MB)
Facilitated by Arete Initiative
This will be a facilitated session where conference participants will learn and work with each other to explore the state of implementation and key opportunities to scale natural infrastructure. Participants will leverage the learning that has occurred during the conference as well as their real-world experience. This session will be hands-on, and its output will be shared as a resource for natural infrastructure efforts post-conference.
Funding is a critical enabler for implementing natural infrastructure initiatives. However, Prairie communities often lack clarity on available funding sources and how to access them. This session will provide a high-level overview of current and future funding programs, as well as showcase leading examples of successful Prairie projects implemented via unique funding models.
- Scott Millar (North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance), Moderator
- Dustin Carey (Federation of Canadian Municipalities)
- Lynda Nicol (Manitoba Association of Watersheds)
- Mark Donner, (Alberta Innovates)
How do individual natural infrastructure projects add up to landscape-scale outcomes? Hear from leading practitioners working to design, implement, or evaluate natural infrastructure at landscape or watershed scales.
- Jen Pouliotte (City of Calgary), Moderator
- Craig Harding (Nature Conservancy of Canada
- Jeremy Hogan (Nature Conservancy of Canada)
- Kim Sturgess (WaterSMART Solutions)
- Michelle Molnar (Natural Assets Initiative)
- Ryan Macdonald (MacHydro)
Facilitated by Arete Initiative
This facilitated workshop aims to progress practical natural infrastructure initiatives by inviting participants to present and collaborate on projects at different stages of scoping and development. The session will be structured to enable all attendees to provide meaningful input
Group discussion and closing remarks from co-hosts.
The region we refer to as the Canadian Prairies is home to an incredible diversity of Indigenous cultures. Indigenous Peoples of the Prairie region are rights holders with robust knowledge and close connection to their traditional lands and with jurisdiction over their territories.
The region of focus for IISD’s Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS) initiative spans the traditional lands of over 200 Indigenous territories and homelands across the provinces we call Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Water is life and we have the responsibility to listen and learn to the learnings and knowledge held by those who have lived here for time immemorial.
The Advancing Natural Infrastructure 2024 Forum is being held on the traditional territories and homelands of the people of Treaty 7 in Calgary. We acknowledge the ancestral lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy, made up of the Siksika, Piikani, Amskaapipiikani and Kainai First Nations; the Îethka Nakoda Wîcastabi First Nations, comprised of the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Goodstoney First Nations; and the Tsuut’ina First Nation. These are also the traditional homelands of the Métis Nation of Alberta and the five Territories of the Métis Nation under the Otipemisiwak Métis Government Constitution.
At IISD’s NIWS, we uphold the agency and autonomy of Indigenous peoples, supporting their efforts to revitalize and engage with their heritage across traditional, contemporary, and future contexts. We offer respect to those who have long lived with and stewarded lands and waters across the Prairies and recognize the ongoing leadership of First Nations and Métis communities.
We encourage everyone to visit native-land.ca to learn more about traditional lands and treaties across the prairies.
About the International Institute for Sustainable Development:
IISD is an independent global think tank championing sustainable solutions to 21st-century problems. Established and headquartered in Manitoba since 1990, our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability through research, analysis, and knowledge products that support sound policy-making.
Natural Infrastructure for Water Solutions (NIWS) is a 5-year initiative by IISD and partners to scale up natural infrastructure on Canada's Prairies—for cleaner water and more resilient communities. IISD is at the forefront of promoting the adoption of natural infrastructure in Canada, advancing government, industry, and public efforts to make natural infrastructure a part of our sustainable future.
About WaterSMART Solutions
WaterSMART Solutions is a niche strategic and engineering consulting company with deep domain expertise and understanding of water in western Canada supported by robust technical skills. WaterSMART provides a unique combination of in-house integrated water management expertise, with access to a diverse external network of global and local leaders in the field. This powerful formula allows WaterSMART to identify, develop and execute water-related strategies and projects for its clients and partners spanning from strategic assessment and facilitation, to policy response and awareness, to technical solution development and application. WaterSMART has a successful track record of providing innovative water management solutions for key industries in the province and is an effective catalyst and champion for positive change.
About the Natural Assets Initiative
The Natural Assets Initiative (NAI) is a national non-profit organization that is changing the way local governments deliver everyday services by working with nature. Developed and led by NAI, natural asset management is a scalable, practical approach to managing nature’s services alongside engineered assets, increasing the quality and resilience of our infrastructure at lower costs and reduced risks. NAI provides scientific, economic and civic expertise to support and guide communities, governments, and watershed stewards in identifying, valuing and accounting for natural assets in their financial planning and asset management programs, and in developing leading-edge, sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure.
Thanks to our funder:
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