Statement by the Honourable Steven Guilbeault on the opening of the high-level segment of COP15


December 15, 2022 – Montréal, Quebec

“A little over 50 years ago, a brilliant Canadian artist, Joni Mitchell, sent us a message in a song saying that we had “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” We listened to her music and sang along. But did we really understand her message?

“We must live in harmony with nature, not dominate it. Time is running out.

“At COP15 here in Montréal, there are several key issues we need to land to reach an ambitious global biodiversity framework.

“Canada is urging the world to take a good look at what the science says we need to put in place before it is too late. We need clear targets and actions that address the key direct drivers of global biodiversity loss. We need to make the protection of 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030 the unifying target for the world, the same way as 1.5 degrees is for climate action.

“These are the minimum thresholds for the survival of nature, the climate and humanity. The ultimate goal? Nothing short of nature’s full recovery by 2050. And to do that, the framework needs to address both of the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

“Many countries here at COP15 have made it clear that “30 by 30” must be supported by an increase in funding with improvements in the predictability, transparency, comprehensiveness and accessibility of its distribution. Canada is listening, and we are working with like-minded nations to address these issues and concerns.

“To achieve our goals, we need to mobilize and realign all sources of financing towards supporting developing countries and being nature positive. It is time to come together. Canada is ready to engage on discussions on the scale of funding to reflect in the global biodiversity framework.

“We are also ready to engage on maximizing the potential of the Global Environment Facility, also known as GEF, as the financial mechanism for this Convention. GEF brings experience and adaptability to bear. Let’s consider how we can leverage the history of this important financial mechanism for greater biodiversity action.

“This is why Canada has contributed its share of the historic Eighth Replenishment of the GEF. Canada’s contribution makes us the GEF’s 7th largest donor.

“We will also respond to the call from developing countries for help in creating sustainable finance solutions through the United Nations Development Programme’s BIOFIN Program.

“And last week we announced $350 million to advance biodiversity action in developing countries, in addition to the $1 billion already committed for projects supporting nature and climate together.

“We understand that direct assistance is a foundational part of the equation. However, we should not limit ourselves to this. We need to unlock private and philanthropic support, development bank modernization and subsidies realignment. This needs to be a whole-of-society effort. Stronger planning, reporting, and review systems will clearly track our global progress, strengthen country implementation and hold countries accountable to commitments.

“All of this, as Canada has been demonstrating throughout this COP, must be done in full partnership with Indigenous peoples. Success relies on full engagement. And it demands that we act with the urgency that is required.

“Joni Mitchell’s song repeats “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?”

“Species decline is not inevitable and it is not a one-way street. If we continue to dominate nature, it will be at our own peril. We know what is at stake. The fight to protect nature has never been more urgent. We can change course.

“We can come to a consensus and achieve a strong framework, here in Montréal. Let’s mark a historic moment for nature. Let’s stop paving paradise, and protect what we have before it is gone. It won’t be easy. It won’t happen on its own. But it is within our reach.”


Kaitlin Power
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)

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