Canada marks World Environment Day by protecting nature from coast to coast to coast

News release

June 5, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

Today, people around the globe will honour World Environment Day—an annual event dedicated to raising awareness and protecting the environment. This year’s theme is “Biodiversity.” As Canadians continue to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of how important nature is to our well-being. Protecting our natural surroundings is vital to our health, the economy, and our efforts to combat climate change.

To mark World Environment Day, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, today announced over 60 conservation projects under development across Canada. These projects, funded through the Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge initiative, will conserve Canadian nature and are available to view on the map of Challenge projects. These projects will conserve biodiversity; protect species at risk; and enhance the ecological integrity, connectivity, and size of Canada’s vast network of protected areas. Nearly half of these projects are Indigenous-led, with the purpose of working toward creating Indigenous protected and conserved areas. By working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, the projects announced today will also create jobs and support local economies across Canada.

Climate change continues to present a long-term threat to our health and well-being, and protecting nature is an important part of the solution. Nature-based climate solutions, such as protecting nature and planting trees, have the potential to provide over 30 percent of global climate solutions.

Together, these projects move us closer to our goal of protecting 25 percent of Canada’s lands and 25 percent of its oceans by 2025. In partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous Peoples, individuals, and the private sector, we can protect our natural environment for generations to come.

Canadians are and will continue to be at the centre of the Government’s environment policies. When the world begins to recover from COVID-19, the Government of Canada will explore policies that will help the economy recover while creating conditions for new green jobs, protecting nature, and fighting climate change.


“As Canadians, we are fortunate to have an abundance of nature in our backyards: A gift that comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility to protect it. Caring for our precious forests, oceans, lakes, and rivers is our shared responsibility. On World Environment Day—and every day—let’s do our part to protect our natural legacy for generations to come.

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Nature-based solutions offer immediate and effective answers to the climate problem. Allowing nature to thrive, restoring ecosystems, and protecting all species on our planet are crucial to safeguarding human health and protecting the planet. I congratulate the Government of Canada for its leadership in tapping into the power of nature to combat the climate crisis.”

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

“Indigenous Nations are at the forefront of managing and caring for lands and waters across the country. Partnerships between Indigenous Nations and Canada support this conservation leadership, and together we can meet our shared goals to protect nature and the climate.”

Valérie Courtois, Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative

“COVID-19 has highlighted how the Government’s ambitious goals to protect land and ocean are more vital than ever to ensure Canadians’ long-term well-being. The projects supported by the Nature Fund demonstrate what is possible—and what we will need so much more of to ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery for all.”

Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada

“Canada has long been a global leader in conserving nature. By investing in Indigenous-led conservation in collaboration with philanthropy and other sectors, Canada is continuing to lead with new models of stewardship. We are protecting our environment while supporting equitable prosperity and healthy communities across the country.”

– Cathy Wilkinson, Strategic Advisor to the International Boreal Conservation Campaign

“The pandemic has demonstrated beyond any doubt just how important nature is to Canadians. The Government of Canada’s ongoing progress on nature conservation and its renewed commitment to ambitious land and ocean protection goals are more important than ever. CPAWS is dedicated to continuing to work with the federal government and with Indigenous, provincial and territorial governments, and other partners to deliver on these commitments, on the ground, across Canada.”

Alison Woodley, Senior Strategic Advisor for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Quick facts

  • Through Budget 2018, the Government invested a historic $1.3 billion to protect Canada’s nature, including the establishment of new protected and conserved areas as well as new Indigenous protected and conserved areas.

  • The $175 million Target 1 Challenge initiative, which is part of the Canada Nature Fund, supports Canada’s Target 1 goal of conserving 17 percent of our land and fresh water by the end of 2020. Canada has committed to going even further, protecting 25 percent of our land and fresh water by 2025.

  • These conservation projects are occurring in every province and territory.

  • Canada has almost one third of all land-based carbon storage: A vital element of action on climate change. Creating new protected and conserved areas and restoring lands are among the lowest-cost measures for climate change mitigation.

Associated links


Moira Kelly
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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