A Strategic Plan for Biodiversity was adopted in 2010 at the Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Canada, the European Community, and another 195 member states are Parties to the CBD. The plan includes 20 biodiversity targets, known as the Aichi Targets, to be achieved by 2020 in order to reverse the global decline of biodiversity. Aichi Target 11 focusses on the conservation of biological diversity through protected areas and other measures:
- By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape.
Parties were urged to develop their own national targets in support of the strategic plan using Aichi targets as a guide. In 2015, Canada adopted the “2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada”, a set of 19 targets covering issues ranging from species at risk to sustainable forestry to connecting Canadians to nature. Canada’s land and freshwater conservation target (also called Canada Target 1), which is aligned with the numeric component of Aichi Target 11, states:
- By 2020, at least 17% of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas of Canada, are conserved through networks of protected areas and other effective area-based measures.
On April 11, 2016, federal, provincial, and territorial deputy ministers responsible for parks agreed to establish a steering committee through the Canadian Parks Council that will outline a pathway to achieving Canada’s land and freshwater target.
In February 2017, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for protected areas and biodiversity conservation committed to work together on expanding Canada’s collection of protected and conserved areas under an initiative known as Pathway to Canada Target 1. For its part, Quebec, although it does not participate in the implementation of the Pathway initiative, will contribute to the pan-Canadian effort by achieving an identical target for the creation of protected areas on its terrestrial territory and its inland water by 2020.
It is well understood that many governments, Indigenous groups, communities, and organizations across Canada have a significant interest and/or stake in the outputs from the process and that the solutions associated with achieving Canada’s land and freshwater conservation target will only be found through collaboration and collective action within and amongst those groups. Accordingly, Ministers who oversee parks, wildlife, conservation and biodiversity from the federal, provincial and territorial governments are seeking advice from a National Advisory Panel (NAP), with members who represent a broad spectrum of perspectives.
The NAP consists of individuals appointed by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Minister for Alberta Environment and Parks. Individuals were selected based on merit and drawn from a balanced and broad spectrum of perspectives, including Indigenous groups, conservation non-governmental organizations, industry, academia and youth. Members were selected from a field of nearly 150 Canadians who responded to the Ministers’ December 23, 2016 call for expressions of interest.
Members of the NAP will serve as individuals bringing their expertise, knowledge, and perspectives, rather than acting solely as representatives of, or advocates for, their current affiliation. Members will balance the principle of transparency with confidentiality of discussions where appropriate.
The purpose of the National Advisory Panel is to provide practical and innovative recommendations reflecting a broad spectrum of perspectives and based on the best available science and traditional knowledge on how governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians could collectively achieve Canada’s land and freshwater target through a coordinated and connected network of protected and conservation areas throughout the country that could serve as the cornerstone for biodiversity conservation for generations to come.
The NAP will produce a report that will be publicly available and submitted to ministers responsible for parks, protected areas and biodiversity conservation. The report will provide recommendations on how Canada can achieve the quantitative and qualitative elements of the terrestrial and inland water components of Canada Target 1. The recommendations will focus on the following elements:
- Canadian criteria for protected area categories and other effective area-based conservation measures that are credible, clear, and consistent with internationally recognized approaches so that we can account for progress toward achieving the target;
Representation of Canada’s diverse ecology in protected areas and other effective conservation measures;
Equitable management of protected areas from a local community perspective;
Management effectiveness of protected areas and other effective conservation measures;
Areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services;
Connecting protected and conservation areas and integrating them into the wider landscape.
This work is being supported, in part, by an Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE), which will provide recommendations on how Indigenous protected and conservation areas could be realized in Canada. The work of the ICE will be grounded in and reflect the principles of the overall initiative, including: reconciliation, respect, inclusiveness and collaboration, transparency, innovation and creativity, and evidence-based decision making grounded in science and traditional knowledge. Its recommendations regarding Indigenous conservation areas will be grounded in the following principles, to be defined through the work of the Circle, and incorporated in the final version of the ICE report: jurisdictional solutions, capacity development, financial support, and prioritizing matters of importance to Indigenous communities such as cultural sites and keystone species.