Government of Canada takes action to restore and protect nature with commitment to introduce a nature accountability bill in 2024
December 9, 2023 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Nature’s survival and protection are paramount to humanity and all species on Earth. With over half of the world’s gross domestic product dependent on nature and its services, and with over two-thirds of species in decline, the natural world needs our help. This time last year, Canada stepped up to host COP15, the United Nations Biodiversity Conference, and played a key role in brokering the Global Biodiversity Framework. This Framework aims to safeguard at least 30 percent of the world’s land, fresh water, and oceans; halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030; and achieve full recovery for nature by 2050.
Today, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, alongside his ministerial counterparts from other countries, announced the Government of Canada’s commitment to introduce a federal nature accountability bill in 2024.
The bill would intend to establish an accountability framework for the federal government in fulfilling its nature and biodiversity commitments under the Global Biodiversity Framework. It would provide concrete steps from now until 2030 to implement these commitments at the federal level, which would include requirements to develop Canada’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and report on its implementation. Clear and accessible reporting would enable progress to be assessed and, where necessary, course corrections to stay on track with nature and biodiversity commitments.
While at COP28, Minister Guilbeault also shared other important commitments from the Government of Canada to support global nature protection, including:
- $440,000 over two years to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Environmental Outlook Framework Report. Canada’s contribution will go toward modelling and examination of policy interactions between the triple crises of climate change, biodiversity, and pollution. The project will provide important analyses and recommendations to assist in the domestic and global implementation of multiple biodiversity targets.
- Announcing that Germany, France, the European Commission, Norway, the United States, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Spain, Jamaica, the United Kingdom, Costa Rica, and Chad have joined the Nature Champions Network launched by Canada earlier this year to advocate for the rapid implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework goals.
- Canada is joining with the United States and Australia on a new initiative that will help decision makers account for the full value of nature when making plans and policies, called the Partnership of Cooperation on Natural Capital Accounting, Environmental-Economic Accounting, and Related Statistics.
As a large and biodiversity-rich country, Canada is driving global action through historic investments and ambition in international negotiations. The Government of Canada launched the largest campaign in Canadian history to conserve nature, backed by over $5 billion in investments, with a goal of protecting 30 percent of land and water by 2030 and conserving species at risk, in full partnership with Indigenous peoples.
“Last year, COP15 was a watershed moment for global efforts to reverse the alarming destruction of nature happening worldwide. We landed a deal that showed the world that action on nature was just as vital as action on climate, and that they are, in fact, inseparable goals. It is now up to every country to implement the commitments we set for ourselves. Canada is one of the first countries in the world to announce its intent to enshrine nature and biodiversity commitments into law, and I am encouraging my counterparts from other countries to do the same. There is more work to do, and all provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, businesses, and communities have a role to play. There is no time to lose—we must act now, and nature is counting on all of us.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“By recognizing the role that we play in the climate crisis, we can put ourselves in solution mode and build sustainable approaches to halting and reversing biodiversity loss. Canada’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and the federal biodiversity accountability bill will ensure we are on the right path to protecting invaluable aquatic ecosystems, including our oceans, fresh water, and coastal areas. The oceans are home to an immense web of marine life, and they sustain the majority of our planet’s biodiversity. More than ever, the time is now to work together to protect them for future generations.”
– The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The signing of the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework one year ago was a landmark in global efforts to halt the extinction crisis. Today’s announcement signals that the Government of Canada stands ready to press those words into action. We commend Prime Minister Trudeau and Ministers Guilbeault and Lebouthillier for their willingness to present a federal nature accountability bill to Parliament to ensure that the promise of the Framework will become the law of the land in Canada. An important step on a long journey.”
– Emily McMillan, Executive Director of Nature Canada
“Ecojustice applauds the government of Canada’s commitment to introduce a nature accountability bill in 2024. Canada plays a crucial role in the success of the Global Biodiversity Framework because we boast the second largest area of intact nature in the world. A strong Canadian law will help turn the tide of species extinction and ecosystem degradation."
“We look forward to a bill that sets effective and enforceable legal standards for plans to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve full nature recovery by 2050. We hope that Indigenous partners and knowledge are included in the development and implementation of the bill. Respecting Indigenous rights and jurisdiction is critical to the success of any effort to recover nature.”
– Josh Ginsberg, Lawyer, Ecojustice
“The Government of Canada's commitment to introduce a nature accountability bill in 2024 is to be commended. Cementing our 2030 objectives for nature in Canadian legislation is exactly the leadership we need at this juncture to give us hope for the future of bird populations, and indeed for all of the planet's biodiversity.”
– Patrick Nadeau, President and Chief Executive, Birds Canada
“A nature accountability bill will be an important tool to hold Canada to its commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and to keep us on target to protect at least 30 percent of land, fresh water, and oceans by 2030. We welcome opportunities to engage in the implementation of this legislation through the coming year and note the critical role of Indigenous nations in its success. CPAWS supports the creation of this important law, together with other elements of a strong biodiversity strategy, in 2024.”
– Chris Rider, National Director, Conservation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
“We applaud Minister Guilbeault’s announcement today that the federal government is formally committing to introducing a nature accountability law. Canada has shown great leadership in nature protection on the international stage, and a strong legal framework—one that ensures respect for Indigenous rights and authority and support for Indigenous-led initiatives—will help make sure that we turn that ambition into action when it comes to protecting the land, oceans, and wildlife that Canadians care about.”
– Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
“We are very pleased to hear the Minister’s commitment to a federal nature accountability bill in 2024. This bill will serve as an important tool to keep Canada on track to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.”
– Lisa Mitchell, Executive Director, East Coast Environmental Law
“The Global Biodiversity Framework agreed to in Montréal last year was historic. But without implementing transformative solutions to protect and restore nature, nature, well-being and communities will continue to suffer. That’s why we need an effective nature accountability law—to keep progress on track, while respecting Indigenous rights and titles and including Indigenous peoples at the forefront of decision making.”
– Jay Ritchlin, Director-General, Western Canada and Nature Programs, David Suzuki Foundation
Throughout 2023, Canada has worked toward the development of its 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, including:
- Consulting with Canadians regarding biodiversity priorities.
- Hosting a National Biodiversity Symposium and engaging Canadians in the development of the strategy.
- Hosting a federal-provincial-territorial meeting of environment ministers, where provinces and territories were called upon to join the federal government in supporting ambitious goals to protect nature and biodiversity. At this meeting, ministers discussed achieving the protection of 30 percent of land and water in Canada by 2030, understanding that it is central to address the current rate of biodiversity loss.
Cooperation and coordinated action with provinces, territories, and Indigenous organizations are essential to protecting nature in Canada. In the last year, the Government of Canada has signed historic agreements with the Yukon, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, backed by substantial investments, aiming toward the goal of 30 percent of protected land and water by 2030.
Canada has released a Milestone Document, which provides a framework for its 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, including initial implementation plans for the 23 Global Biodiversity Framework targets. Canadians are invited to share their thoughts on the Milestone Document until February 9, 2024.
The Nature Champions Network is a ministerial-level network launched by Canada that focuses on fostering international awareness and understanding of the Global Biodiversity Framework and keeping up the momentum to ensure that all countries deliver updated domestic biodiversity strategies by COP16.
The Partnership of Cooperation on Natural Capital Accounting, Environmental-Economic Accounting, and Related Statistics supports implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework, particularly Target 14, which specifies a need to ensure that the multiple values of biodiversity are integrated into decision making at all levels.
- Readout: Meeting of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Responsible for Conservation, Wildlife, and Biodiversity—Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers Commit to Collaborative Approach on Renewed National Biodiversity Strategy
- Minister Steven Guilbeault and Global Environment Counterparts Announce New Nature Champions Network
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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