Canadian Environmental Protection Act: related international agreements

Canada sees before it an ever more diverse, expansive and complex international environmental agenda. This international agenda has emerged as a result of an acknowledgment that domestic actions are often not sufficient to protect a country's citizens or the global environment. This creates the need for international cooperation, often through the vehicle of international agreements.

International environmental agreements are negotiated by the federal government on the basis of positions developed through consultations conducted with provincial, territorial and aboriginal self-governments and Canadian stakeholders.

Once the final agreement has been negotiated, countries may sign within a specified time frame, and if they wish to become bound as a party, they may then ratify the agreement. The agreement enters into force once a minimum number of parties has ratified, as stated in the agreement. It is also possible to accede to a convention, which is a one-step approach to becoming bound once the agreement is closed for signature.

In Canada, the federal government has the authority to negotiate and enter into international agreements. Cabinet approval is required to sign, ratify or accede to a new agreement. Generally, signature indicates the party's intent to consider ratification in good faith. Canada typically does not ratify until all legal measures are in place domestically to ensure the agreement's implementation at the time of entry into force. In some cases, this means developing and introducing new regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999) or other existing legislation to comply with requirements of the agreement.

Page details

Date modified: