Canada’s 2023 Voluntary National Review at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
United Nations New York, New York July 19, 2023
Distinguished guests, fellow countries, it is an honour to be here today. I am pleased to be joined by a very strong Canadian delegation.
I would like to take a moment to applaud the United Nations for its continued work and for challenging all of us to advance the SDGs. And thank you Mr. President for having us here today.
As you saw in the video, Canada is a diverse and beautiful country. And yet increasingly, we are experiencing the impacts of the climate change and other crises, as are all countries.
Since adopting the 2030 Agenda, Canada has built a strong foundation to work on advancing the SDGs.
Now we’re at the halfway mark. And today, I am presenting Canada’s second Voluntary National Review.
As a country, we’ve made important progress; but there is more to do.
We evaluated progress towards achieving all 17 SDGs, with a focus to advance five priorities for Canada: poverty reduction, education, gender equality, climate action and partnerships.
As part of our ongoing commitment to Indigenous Peoples, Reconciliation is a priority for the Government of Canada. And it’s a crosscutting theme across all SDGs. And we are committed to working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance the SDGs.
I am proud to be leading the country’s efforts in reducing poverty and in achieving high quality, affordable early learning education.
On SDG 1—No Poverty, we’ve made significant progress.
Through programs like the Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security pension, the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors, and the Canada Pension Plan, we’ve exceeded our interim target of a 20% reduction in poverty rates.
In 2021, there were close to 2.3 million fewer Canadians living in poverty compared to 2015, including 650,000 children, and 11,000 seniors.
While the poverty reduction numbers are impressive in just the last 7 years, new challenges and pressures have presented themselves, such as global inflation, high housing prices, and global economic instabilities resulting from the pandemic and war in Ukraine.
Internationally, Canada is committed to doing its part to end global poverty. We have increased our international assistance, especially for women and girls, because we know that improving circumstances for women and girls lifts everyone up.
In fact, Canada’s 10 Year Commitment to Global Health and Rights, supporting SDG 3 – Ensure Healthy Lives, includes $1.4 billion annually for global health programming including $700 million dedicated to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Canada recognizes that SDG 4 – Quality Education, drives progress across all 17 goals: quality education is linked to poverty reduction, helps to reduce inequalities, foster intolerance, and more peaceful societies.
We have made advances under this goal. Canadian education outcomes are among the highest in the world.
I am particularly proud of the historic Canada-wide early learning and childcare system we are creating that is already providing affordable, inclusive and quality early education for children.
These investments are also helping to advance SDG 5 – Gender Equality - by giving women and their families more flexibility in their choices, and removing barriers for mothers to participate in the workforce if they so choose.
In fact, Canada recently achieved the highest level of female workforce participation in our history in part because of increased access to affordable child care.
The pandemic disrupted education for learners around the world and those living in extreme poverty, particularly girls and persons with disabilities.
We must continue to address issues of access, quality, equity and accountability in global education.
Our international contributions are guided by priorities for action identified in Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy, including the Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada is proud to be the top OECD donor for the share of aid supporting gender equality.
Through these efforts we have supported more than 4 million girls and women, and over 1800 women’s rights organizations.
As Minister responsible for leading Canada’s effort on the SDGs, I am happy to report on two key Goals that require sustained collaboration: SDG 13—Climate Action and SDG 17—Partnerships for the Goals.
Canada is taking steps to combat climate change that will drive progress across several interlinked SDGs. Canada is investing in clean energy, creating green jobs, and moving towards green and climate-resilient infrastructure and low carbon transportation.
In 2022, we released the most comprehensive emissions reduction plan in Canada’s history and have followed that with a very recent national strategy on climate adaptation.
We have protected 13.6% of Canada’s terrestial area, including 12.7% of protected areas, and 14.7% of our marine territory, with an objective to protect 30% of both by 2030.
Internationally, we know that the Global South is hardest hit by climate change. During the 2021 G7 Leaders’ Summit, Canada announced a five-year funding commitment for low and middle-income countries affected by climate change.
Doubling our International Climate Financing, this funding commitment will support the transition to sustainable, low-carbon, climate-resilient, and inclusive development.
Partnerships are at the heart of delivering the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs. Today’s High-Level Political Forum is a great example.
Prime Minister Trudeau, as co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates group, is encouraging everyone to come together to accelerate progress on the SDGs.
Our VNR highlights initiatives by stakeholders and partners from coast to coast to coast to advance the SDGs. We have provided funding towards programs to help local and regional groups and Indigenous organizations raise awareness about the SDGs and work towards achieving them.
This has in turn created a number of opportunities for everyone to participate in advancing the SDGs.
Accountability and transparency are critical. To that end, Canada will lead the comprehensive review of the Global Indicator Framework. We will also conduct our own review of the Canadian Indicator Framework and will draw on more data sources to reduce gaps in reporting on the SDGs.
So in conclusion, we are hoping that Canada’s second VNR will generate dialogue and allow us to collect meaningful feedback that will inform our next steps as we continue to advance the SDGs at home and abroad.
Thank you. Miigwetch.
For information (media only):
Office of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould
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