Speech for The Honourable Steven Guilbeault Minister of Environment and Climate Change Stockholm+50 National Statement Stockholm, Sweden June 2, 2022


President, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to be joining you here in Stockholm.

I would like to thank the Governments of Sweden and Kenya and the United Nations Environment Programme Secretariat for your leadership in making this 50th anniversary celebration such an inspired moment for us all.

1972 welcomed the Stockholm Declaration, which, for the first time, focused international attention on the vital relationship between a healthy environment, development and poverty.

There, Maurice Strong called on participants to “build the new vehicle of international cooperation that will…provide the optimum environment for human life on Planet Earth.”

Maurice Strong was a great Canadian.

The Stockholm Declaration was the first step of fifty years of multilateral cooperation.

Canada played a strong role encouraging new vehicles to drive multilateral environmental action forward.

…vehicles such as the Montreal Protocol, to overcome a global environmental threat, the thinning of the ozone layer.

And the Arctic Council, which put the Arctic environment and people at the forefront of circumpolar cooperation.

And more recently, co-leading, with Germany, the Climate Finance Delivery Plan.

And assisting the talks that set the stage—and mandate—for a new, legally binding, international agreement to end plastic pollution.

Canada remains an engaged, good-faith advocate for international cooperation…including by co-chairing the Powering Past Coal Alliance and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework process.

We all understand that we’re living in a time of cascading global challenges.

  • The brutal, unprovoked, and illegal war of aggression waged by Russia against Ukraine…
  • Humanitarian crises around the world, which are fueled and worsened by extreme weather events.

It is only through our cooperation that we are able to overcome the greatest environmental challenges of our time—the triple crises of climate change, rapid biodiversity loss, and rising pollution.

Indeed, my colleagues, what is at stake goes well beyond matters of environmental cooperation and extends to the foundations of our communities and our social order.

If we are unable to find common cause for a liveable world, within the rules-based international order, then what do we have left?

It’s clear that more needs to be done, and that governments alone cannot get us there.

In our formal UN language, we often use the term “stakeholders” or “non-state actor,” or “constituency.”

But on the 50th Anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration, I think we need new language and a new paradigm for how we describe these participants.

Civil society, organizations, all levels of government, youth groups, faith groups—these are not just stakeholders, they are partners of government.

These partners are challenging us, they are emboldening us, and demanding action, and they are also key to implementation.

And their voice matters not just on the margins—but they are right in the centre of the action—with governments—shoulder to shoulder.

I am encouraged by the range of partners here at Stockholm+50, especially the youth.

We also need to ensure the meaningful, robust engagement of Indigenous Peoples around these tables.

It fills me with hope that, 50 years on, we are hearing that same slogan, “Only One Earth”, across the globe on World Environment Day, this Sunday.

This celebration is an opportunity for shared optimism as we continue working together to accelerate a safer, healthier, and more prosperous future for everyone

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