International overview


This information from the Minister’s transition binder was current as of November 2019. We don’t update this page as it is part of the historical record.

The increasing global integration of economies, the ever growing movements of goods, people, capital, and information, and the fact that all countries share the same atmosphere and biosphere, mean that there are few environmental issues for which causes or solutions are exclusively confined within Canada’s territory. Canada cooperates with international partners to influence international decisions and find solutions to global environmental problems that affect Canadians and can have an impact on our environment and economy. This cooperation focuses on issues such as climate change, biodiversity and nature, conservation, harmful chemicals, marine litter, hazardous waste disposal, weather, ice, air pollution, ozone depletion, water scarcity, food waste, land degradation, ocean acidification and wildlife trade and trafficking.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) leads Canada’s international engagement on the environment, working closely with Global Affairs Canada to advance Canada’s interests through partners including multilateral institutions and civil society organizations, or directly with specific countries and regions.

Multilateral engagement

The United Nations (UN) and its institutions, bodies and agreements are a prime space for working with the international community on key issues related to climate change, biodiversity, pollution, chemicals management and weather. Other fora, in particular the Group of 7 (G7) and the Group of 20 (G20), also provide a platform for countries to shape collective environmental action.

Climate change

Climate change is one of the world’s most pressing global environmental challenges. ECCC engages in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other fora to discuss  tangible climate action by all countries. In particular, Canada has indicated that it wants real and transparent implementation of the Paris Agreement, which was agreed in 2015 and provides a framework to strengthen the global response to climate change. ECCC leads the policy development and Canada’s participation in discussions under the UNFCCC, with the support of several other federal departments, including Global Affairs Canada, which provides legal advice.

Canada also provides support for developing countries, in particular the poorest and most vulnerable, to implement the Paris Agreement. Global Affiars Canada is responsible for implementing the vast majority of climate finance, ECCC and Global Affairs Canada work closely together in identifying climate finance priorities for Ministerial consideration and in the tracking, monitoring, and communication of Canada’s climate finance.

ECCCalso engages in the work of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading body for climate change science, including by sharing the work and expertise of its scientists. The IPCC’s Assessment Reports directly influence all international discussions related to climate change and serve as an important driver of climate action.

Biodiversity and conservation

Canada has over 100 years of history of engaging with other countries for biodiversity conservation, signing the Migratory Birds Convention with the United States in 1916, among other agreements. Canada was the first industrialized country to ratify the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is the main international forum on issues related to biodiversity and conservation. The CBD Secretariat is hosted in Montréal. As a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)and the International Criminal Police Organization’s (INTERPOL) Wildlife Crime Working Group, ECCC is working with other countries to address issues related to the international trade and trafficking of wildlife. The CITES aims to ensure certain species are not threatened by international trade through an international trade permit system administered by ECCC. Additionally, Canada is a Party to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (the Ramsar Convention) and has designated 37 Ramsar sites under the Convention.

Air pollution

ECCC works with the international community through the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) to improve air quality, by addressing pollution from outside Canada’s borders that impacts the air quality in Canada. ECCC actively contributes to the Convention’s scientific and policy work, including by submitting annual reports on its emission of air pollutants.

Marine plastic litter

Marine plastic litter threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, contributes to climate change and represents a loss of material and economic value in the range of $80-120 billion per year.  Canada recognizes the importance of addressing marine plastic litter, and continues to advance momentum in several international fora (e.g., APEC, UN Environment Assembly, G7/G20, Arctic Council, World Economic Forum). As G7 President, Canada spearheaded efforts to address the issue of marine plastic litter and announced $100 million in funding to help developing countries prevent plastic waste from entering the oceans, address plastic waste on shorelines, and better manage existing plastic resources. ECCC is working with Global Affairs Canada to deliver on these funding commitments.

Hazardous and other waste

Canada is a Party to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The overall goal of the Basel Convention is to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects from the generation, transboundary movements, and management of hazardous wastes and other wastes. The Convention seeks to minimize the generation of hazardous and other waste, including hazardous recyclable materials, to ensure they are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner and as close as possible to the source. Canada is actively engaged in the strategic and technical work of this convention. In May of 2019,  Canada played a leadership role under the Basel Convention leading to the adoption of new amendments to control the transboundary movement of non-hazardous, non-recyclable plastic waste in support of global efforts to tackle marine litter.

Chemicals management

ECCC has played a key role in the development and implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in order to protect the environment and the health of Northerners through reductions in atmospheric mercury in Canada’s Arctic. This convention is the latest in a series of international chemicals management agreements which have helped Canada protect its environment by controlling the production, emissions, transboundary movement and disposal of chemical pollutants and waste. As well, through involvement with INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working Group, ECCC is addressing issues related to marine pollution and waste crime.

Meteorological services

Cooperation with other countries is essential in the provision of meteorological services, given that weather predictions beyond two days cannot be achieved without international data. For example, every day data is shared globally on a near-real time basis in order to support weather and environmental prediction models in many countries. ECCC cooperates with other countries through bodies such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Group on Earth Observations.

Other UN environmental fora

ECCC participates in the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), where UN Member States meet every two years to set priorities for global environmental policies and governance on the issues mentioned above and many others. ECCC also provides Canada’s contribution ($3.1 million per year) to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which helps countries take action on the environment and implement multilateral decisions made under several environmental conventions and agreements.

ECCC is also actively involved in the environmental work of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which provides evidence-based policy analysis, best practices and guidance to member countries on a broad range of international issues, including the environment.

Canada is the sixth-largest donor to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), providing CAD$ 229 million over 2018-2022. The GEF is an international partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, that supports activities in developing countries to produce global environmental benefits related to biodiversity, climate change, chemicals and waste management, and land degradation. The GEF also hosts the Least Developed Countries Fund established in 2001 by 194 parties to the UNFCCC. ECCC provides technical input and advice to Global Affairs Canada, the federal lead on the GEF.

ECCC also supports Canada’s participation on environmental issues under the G7 and G20, where the world’s largest economies can work together to help lead global solutions. Global Affairs Canada serves as the overall Government of Canada lead on both the G7 and G20. As part of its 2018 G7 Presidency, Canada placed an emphasis on working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy. During and following Canada’s Presidency, ECCC has led efforts to improve the health of the world’s oceans and seas, and help build coastal communities that are more resilient to environmental changes, including the impacts of climate change.

INTERPOL – The UN Environment Programme has determined that environmental crime is the fourth most valuable crime area worldwide, worth over $200B US per year. INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Programme coordinates multilateral collaboration on fighting wildlife, pollution, forestry and fishery crime. ECCC plays a leadership role in working groups as well as in organizing global and regional projects countering transnational organized environmental crime.  Other International bodies such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Customs Organization have enforcement policy and operational elements to their programs where ECCC contributes in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada and the Department of Justice.

Bilateral and regional engagement

ECCC, with support from Global Affairs Canada (particulalrly Canada’s Missions abroad), also cooperates closely with countries and regions to identify common environmental challenges and potential solutions, share information and best practices and promote Canadian interests in key sectors (e.g., the clean technology sector). It does so through key relationships, such as those with the United States, Mexico, the European Union (EU) and China.

U.S. and Mexico

The U.S. is a key partner for Canada in managing our shared environment. Canada and the U.S. share a history of successfully working together on environmental issues, such as transboundary air and water quality issues and the protection of wildlife. For example, Canada and the U.S. work together through the International Joint Commission (IJC) to address issues that may arise in relation to boundary or transboundary waters between the two countries. ECCC has a memorandum of understanding with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, implemented through a Cooperative Sterring Committee, to collaborate on weather, climate and other Earth Systems for the enhancement of health, safety and prosperity.

ECCC engages trilaterally with the U.S. and Mexico on environmental issues of interest across North America (e.g., Climate Change, Green Growth, Sustainable Communities and Ecosystems)  through the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). The CEC Secretariat is hosted in Montréal. Additionally, the Canada/Mexico/USA Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management provides a forum to address tri-national conservation priorities.

ECCC officials also work bilaterally with Mexico under the Canada-Mexico Partnership’s Environment Working Group, on topics ranging from climate change to addressing environmental impacts associated with the extractives sector, and nature conservation and biodiversity.

European Union

There are also several engagement mechanisms in place with the EU and its member states, such as the Canada-France Climate and Environment Partnership and the Canada-UK Partnership on Clean Growth and Climate Change, as well as climate and environment cooperation under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).


ECCC’s Minister participates as International Executive Vice Chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (China Council). ECCC has ongoing cooperation with China related to climate and environmental action.

Trade agreements

ECCC works with Global Affairs Canada to ensure that robust environment commitments are included and implemented in free trade agreements (FTAs), such as the:

Canada works to include core commitments in these FTAs to maintain strong environmental laws and high levels of environmental protection as trade relationships are developed. Canada also seeks to recognize the important role trade agreements play in facilitating market access for clean technologies, which guides ECCC’s engagement with our trading partners on clean technologies.

Annex – international environmental fora

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) leads Canada’s international engagement on environment and climate change-related issues through participation in numerous international fora and direct cooperation with key country partners. This document provides an overview of the key fora and cooperative relationships ECCC leads.

Climate change fora

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The UNFCCC was established in 1992 and includes participation by nearly all countries of the world. It sets an overall framework for international efforts to tackle the challenges posed by climate change. In 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a new agreement to strengthen the global response to climate change: the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement aims to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. The Agreement also contains goals to foster climate adaptation and resilience, and make global financial flows consistent with a pathway toward a low-carbon future. In pursuit of these goals, the Agreement establishes both individual and collective obligations for all countries. In December 2018, further implementation details (also known as the “Rulebook”) were agreed, which provide guidance on how to meet these obligations.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) are two international funding mechanisms closely linked through the UNFCCC, through which climate finance is delivered to help developing countries take climate action and meet their obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific body established in 1988 under the United Nations. Its Assessment Reports are internationally recognized as the most comprehensive and authoritative scientific assessments of climate change. The Assessment Reports describe changes in the climate, provide projections of future climate change, assess risks due to climate change, and highlight the implication of various climate policies. The IPCC also produces guidance for preparing national greenhouse gas inventories, which are used by countries to ensure a consistent, science-based approach when they report their emissions to the UNFCCC.

Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC)

Canada is a founding partner, active participant, and top donor to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC): an international, multi-stakeholder framework for concrete action to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), (methane, Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon and tropospheric ozone) that cause significant near-term climate change. Canada completed a two-year term as CCAC Co-Chair, and a third consecutive two-year term on the CCAC Steering Committee in October 2018, and remains a lead partner in working-level initiatives to reduce SLCPs from the agriculture, transportation, cooling, and municipal solid waste sectors.                                                                                                                                            

Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA)

The PPCA was jointly launched by Canada and the United Kingdom at the November 2017 UN Climate Change Conference (COP23). This initiative brings together governments, businesses, and civil society groups committed to the sustainable phase-out of unabated coal power. Since its launch, the PPCA has grown to over 90 members and is supporting international climate change efforts, including meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement, through proactive coal phase-out efforts. At COP24 in December 2018, Canada pledged $275 million to fund the Energy Transition and Coal Phase-Out Program at the World Bank. This funding will help developing countries to slow coal production, while scaling up energy efficiency and low-carbon energy alternatives.

Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA)

The GCA was launched in October 2018 with the aim of building collaboration and generating momentum on climate change adaptation issues across governments, civil society and the private sector through work in a number of thematic “action tracks”. The GCA is composed of 33 commissioners and 19 convening countries and is led by three co-chairs: Bill Gates (Co-founder, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Kristalina Georgieva (Managing Director, IMF) and Ban Ki-Moon (former secretary general of the UN). Canada is one of five key convening nations and has provided $7.5 million over 3 years to support the GCA. Canada is also playing a leadership role on the “nature-based solutions” action track.

The Commission recently released a report in September 2019 entitled Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience. The report calls for innovative thinking in three areas: Understanding of Adaptation, Planning for it, and lastly, Financing Action. The report calls for more to be done in the area of climate adaptation to content with the current and future effects of climate change.

Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC)

The CPLC is a voluntary initiative led by the World Bank that aspires to facilitate action towards the successful implementation of carbon pricing around the world. It brings together leaders from government, business, and civil society to support the introduction of carbon pricing, share experiences and enhance understanding of emerging practices in the implementation of carbon pricing. The CPLC was officially launched at COP21 in Paris in December 2015. As of 2018, CPLC comprises 32 national and sub-national government partners, 150 private sector partners from a range of regions and sectors, and 67 strategic partners representing non-government organizations, business organizations, and universities. Canada is a member of the CPLC and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change co-chaired the CPLC’s High Level Assembly until April 2019.

Key Environmental Fora

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Established in 1972, and located in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP is the principal UN body that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the UN system, and advocates for the global environment. The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is UNEP’s governing body, which meets every two years to make strategic decisions and instruct UNEP to act in priority areas. Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya is also Canada’s permanent Representative to UNEP, though ECCC is the policy lead.

UNEP’s areas of work are: climate change; chemicals, wastes and air pollution; ecosystem management; environmental governance; resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production; resilience to disasters and conflicts; and environmental monitoring and assessment. UNEP provides timely, scientifically credible, policy-relevant environmental analyses, data and information in support of decision-making. 

UNEP has been instrumental in developing major international environmental instruments. It hosts the secretariat of several multilateral environmental agreements, including the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the secretariat of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, both located in Montreal. UNEP also hosts the secretariat for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is one of the world’s largest public funders of projects and programs to benefit the environment. It is an independent multilateral financial mechanism, managed by the World Bank. GEF financing supports activities in developing countries to produce global environmental benefits in five areas: biodiversity, climate change, chemicals and waste management, international waters, and land degradation. The GEF is the designated financial mechanism for several legally-binding multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) important to Canada, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Canada is the sixth largest donor to the GEF, providing CAN $228.79 million over the current four year replenishment period (2018-2022). ECCC provides technical input and advice to Global Affairs Canada, the federal lead on GEF, on issues related to GEF programming and the GEF’s relations with the MEAs.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in 1992. It arose from a growing recognition that the diversity of nature is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. It aims to conserve nature, ensure nature is used sustainably, and its benefits are shared equitably and fairly. Canada is home to significant wild spaces and iconic wildlife and Canadians place high value in Canada’s natural spaces. For this reason, Canada was the first industrialized country to ratify the Convention in 1992, and is host of the CBD Secretariat, located in Montreal.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

International wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and involves millions of plant and animal specimens. CITES is an international agreement between countries to help ensure this trade is not harmful for the survival of species. Almost all countries in the world are members of CITES. Canada has been a Party to the Convention since its beginning in 1975 and is currently Chair of the CITES Standing Committee.


INTERPOL brings together environmental / conservation enforcement and police authorities from around the world to support international coordination with a focus on transnational organized crime. ECCC participates in the senior-level Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee as well as working groups on wildlife, pollution and forestry crime.

The UN Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987, in response to growing concern over the depletion of the ozone layer. It established measures for controlling and gradually phasing out the production and consumption of all ozone-depleting substances, and has proven to be a remarkable success, with the majority of ozone-depleting substances having been phased out worldwide.

Canada played a key role in negotiations leading up to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 2016, which established a phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases increasingly used as replacements for some ozone-depleting substances. The Ozone Secretariat, located in Nairobi, supports the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

In 1991, the Montreal Protocol established a Multilateral Fund in order to assist developing countries with the costs of phasing out ozone-depleting substances and HFCs. The Multilateral Fund Secretariat is headquartered in Montreal. In 2018, Canada contributed its assessed share of $9.8 million to the Multilateral Fund, and $1.1 million towards the administrative costs of the Secretariat in Montreal.

The UN Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal

The Basel Convention is a convention between 186 countries under the United Nations, which was agreed in 1992. The Convention controls the movement of dangerous wastes between these countries in order to protect the environment and human health. The signatories meet every year and discuss environmental issues, such as marine litter, management of electronic waste, and dangerous chemical substances. Canada is actively engaged in the work of this convention.

The UN Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

The Rotterdam Convention provides an early warning to countries on a broad range of hazardous chemicals in international trade that have been banned or severely restricted in other countries to protect human health or the environment. The information shared under the Convention enables governments to assess the risks posed by these hazardous chemicals and to make informed decisions on their future import. By facilitating information exchange, the Convention empowers countries lacking adequate infrastructure to monitor the import and use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.

The UN Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

The Stockholm Convention is an international treaty that aims to reduce levels of POPs—hazardous organic chemicals that remain in the environment for a long time—by eliminating or restricting releases of POP industrial chemicals and pesticides, unintentionally produced POP by-products and stockpiles, and POP wastes. Due to the tendency of POPs to migrate long distances and accumulate in northern climates, Canada continues to be particularly impacted by them and inhabitants of Canada’s North are at greater risk for exposure. Canada has therefore played a major leadership role in efforts to control POPs and in the development of the Convention, and was the first country to sign and ratify it in 2004.

The UN Minamata Convention on Mercury

The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a new international treaty that addresses all aspects of the life cycle of mercury, including requiring controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries. Mercury is toxic to human health and the environment, and airborne mercury pollution from other countries travels long distances and is deposited across Canada. Due to the adverse impacts of global mercury pollution on Canadians and their environment, Canada has and continues to play a key role in the work of the treaty.

The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Established in 1950, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a UN Specialized Agency focused on meteorological (weather) and hydrological (water) issues. WMO has 193 Member States and Territories, including Canada, which was one of the first signatories to the WMO Convention.

National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) around the world provide weather and climate information that help predict and prepare for weather, including severe weather, and other related events. WMO supports this work by, among other things, facilitating the exchange of data and information between countries, and fostering international collaboration to apply meteorology and hydrology to public weather services, agriculture, aviation, shipping, the environment, water issues and the mitigation of the impacts of natural disasters.

Other Multilateral Fora

Group of Seven (G7) and Group of 20 (G20)

The G7 is an informal group of seven of the world’s most industrialized nations, aimed at finding common ground to address pressing global issues. It includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. European Union representatives also attend meetings.

Working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy was a priority theme under Canada’s 2018 G7 Presidency. Key environment-related outcomes of Canada’s Presidency include the Charlevoix Blueprint on Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities, the Ocean Plastics Charter, the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter, the G7 Initiative on Earth Observation and Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA).

The G20 regroups twenty of the world’s largest economies: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. While the main purpose of the G20 is to engage on economic issues, in recent years, various G20 presidencies have included environmental and climate change themes to its work.

Arctic Council

The Arctic Council is the main intergovernmental forum for cooperation between the eight Arctic countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. The Council works to promote sustainable development and cultural well-being of Arctic populations. The Council’s work includes a significant focus on the protection of the Arctic environment, including the health of Arctic ecosystems, maintenance of biodiversity in the Arctic region and conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

In addition to the eight Arctic countries, six international Indigenous peoples’ organizations participate as Permanent Participants at the Arctic Council. The Council has also include 13 observers for “near” Arctic nations such as China, Spain, Japan, Germany, France and India.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Canada is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada is committed to multilateralism and works with the OECD and other multilateral organizations to advance international, rules-based, solutions to shared challenges. The OECD provides evidence-based policy analysis, best practices and guidance to its members on a broad range of international issues, including environment.

ECCC is actively involved in the OECD’s environmental work, representing Canada on the Environmental Policy Committee (EPOC), the primary steering group for the OECD Environment Programme, and a number of Working Parties that cover specific environmental policy themes. Currently, the OECD Environment Programme focuses on climate change, green budgeting, blue economy, green finance, water, circular economy, environmental performance reviews and environmental indicators. The OECD also deals with chemicals, economics of biodiversity, economic instruments, environmental aspects of trade, as well as development cooperation. The OECD has contributed environmental studies to assist Canada’s G7 2018 Presidency and concluded Canada’s Environmental Performance Review in 2017. Discussions are taking place on EPOC’s priorities for the Programme of Work and Budget for 2021-22.

Key Bilateral and Regional Fora and Bodies


The International Joint Commission (IJC)

The International Joint Commission (IJC) is a Canada-U.S. international organization that was created by the Boundary Waters Treaty. The IJC prevents and resolves disputes between the U.S. and Canada under the Treaty and serves as an independent and objective advisor to the two governments. The IJC rules on applications for approval of projects affecting boundary or transboundary waters and may regulate the operation of these projects. It assists the two countries in the protection of the transboundary environment, including through the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

The IJC has established more than 20 boards and task forces to help meet its responsibilities along the Canada-U.S. boundary. In Canada, many of the Board and task force members are drawn from ECCC scientists and experts.

Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA)

The GLWQA, originally concluded in 1972, is a commitment between the U.S. and Canada to restore and protect the waters of the Great Lakes. The Agreement provides a framework for identifying shared priorities and implementing actions that improve water quality.

Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement (AQA)

Canada and the U.S. signed the AQA in 1991 with the purpose of addressing the cross-border movement of air pollutants that cause acid rain. In 2000, the two countries added a focus on addressing ground-level ozone, a key component of smog.


Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)

The CEC is an intergovernmental organization created in 1994 by Canada, Mexico and the United States under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), a parallel agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The CEC mandate is to support cooperation among the NAFTA partners to address environmental issues. The Council of the CEC is the governing body and is composed of a cabinet-level official of each country. The Council of the CEC is required to meet at least once per year. The CEC Secretariat provides technical, administrative and operational support to the Council and is based in Montréal. Canada is the current Chair of the rotating CEC Council.

In 2019, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico contributed USD $2.55M each to the CEC budget. The CEC will continue to operate under the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (“new NAFTA”) and its parallel environmental cooperation agreement.

Other Bilateral Engagement

Canada-France Climate and Environment Partnership

In April 2018, Canada and France announced the Canada-France Climate and Environment Partnership. The Partnership represents a shared commitment to increase cooperation between the two countries to combat climate change, including through the Paris Agreement. Through this Partnership, Canada and France financially supported a training workshop for women climate change negotiators from sub-Saharan Africa, with Canada also financially supporting the participation of five of the negotiators at the December 2018 UN Climate Change Conference (COP24). A Canada-France seminar on carbon pricing also took place in May 2019 in Paris, France, where experts and academics participated in an exchange on various carbon pricing approaches.  

Canada-United Kingdom Partnership on Clean Growth and Climate Change

Canada and the UK collaborate through this partnership through seven areas: green finance, clean growth, adaptation, Mission Innovation, carbon capture utilization and storage, carbon pricing, and the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA). Progress has advanced most under Mission Innovation, a global initiative working to accelerate clean energy innovation; and, on the PPCA. Canada and the UK have also been working closely to advance their efforts on climate change adaptation, including by sharing information and lessons learn on domestic adaptation activities.

Climate Finance for Developing Countries

Canada is delivering $2.65 billion in climate finance to developing countries by 2020-21. This contribution will support the commitment Canada made under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord to work with partners to jointly mobilize, from a wide variety of sources, US $100 billion annually by 2020.

This investment targets developing countries seeking to transform to cleaner economic growth and build climate resilience. As part of this commitment, Canada is working with multilateral development banks and is contributing to several climate funds and initiatives to mobilize additional private investments.

The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (China Council or CCICED)

The China Council is a high-level international advisory body that provides China’s State Council (Cabinet) with independent policy advice on environment and development issues. Canada helped to establish the China Council in 1992, and has since been its lead international funding partner, currently providing $1.6 million per year. The China Council is currently composed of approximately 30 Chinese and 35 international members. An Annual General Meeting (AGM) is held every year.

Page details

Date modified: