Two hundred Canadian wildlife organizations remind the Trudeau government and all federal parties that “Canada must solve the climate and biodiversity crises together or risk solving neither.”
“We are at a particularly important point in global history, both in climate and in nature. And I think we’re possibly at a tipping point, ”said Sandra Schwartz, national executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), one of 200 organizations that wrote a open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for a comprehensive biodiversity plan.
“[The letter] it was really to remind the government that there are many Canadians who care deeply about this issue and want to make sure the federal government lives up to its commitment, “he said.
Especially in light of the fires and floods that have devastated BC, Schwartz says this decade may be the most important in reversing biodiversity loss and therefore “we better get it right this decade.”
“We were excited when we saw the last federal budget, which invested huge amounts of money, billions of dollars, in protecting nature,” he said.
The 2021 budget committed $ 4.1 billion to the protection of nature, including increasing protected and conserved areas, enhancing protections for species at risk, and partnering with indigenous peoples through programs such as Indigenous Guardians.
Schwartz says these commitments will help work toward Trudeau’s pledge to conserve 30 percent of Canada’s land and oceans by 2030, but “they won’t get us there all the way.”
“We lack an overall strategy and then a commitment to communicate the progress we are making,” said Gauri Sreenivasan, director of policy and campaigns for Nature Canada.
She says we need to establish a biodiversity baseline, establish how progress will be measured and reported, and identify the key actions that are being taken to make these electoral promises meaningful.
The letter highlights five key areas the federal government should focus on: a commitment to protect 30 percent of the land and oceans by 2030, indigenous-led conservation and rights, restoration of degraded ecosystems, biodiversity. urban and environmental justice, and achieve a nature-based climate. correct solutions.
Two hundred Canadian wildlife organizations, including @NatureCanada and @cpaws, sent an open letter to @JustinTrudeau urging the feds to create a comprehensive biodiversity strategy. #cdnpoli
It says nature-based climate solutions cannot be seen as a substitute for direct reductions in fossil fuel emissions and must be carefully implemented to maximize climate and biodiversity benefits.
Schwartz says the two billion tree program is an example of a federal initiative with the potential to protect and restore nature and aid climate goals, but emphasizes that all programs must be well designed and transparent.
A recent CPAWS analysis of marine protected areas (MPAs) found that most of Canada’s MPAs are weakly protected, revealing a gap between Canada’s conservation ambitions and reality.
Another CPAWS report in June revealed more loopholes, ranking provinces, territories and the federal government in their conservation efforts. Quebec stood out as a leader, but Ontario and Alberta were seen to have actively undermined conservation.
In response to the open letter, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault issued a statement to National Observer of Canada recognizing that “the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss are inextricably linked” and highlighting the federal government’s commitment to halt and reverse the loss of nature by 2030 and achieve a full recovery of nature by 2050.
“I welcome the urgency conveyed by the more than 200 environmental and social justice organizations that signed this open letter to the Prime Minister. As a lifelong former activist and environmentalist, I thank these organizations for their advocacy and work to keep our government’s commitment to the fire. I am firmly committed to delivering on our promises and creating a cleaner and healthier future for generations to come, “Guilbeault’s statement reads.
This letter also comes at a time when cross-party collaboration is possible, Sreenivasan said.
“Canadians of all political persuasions and from all over the country are only witnessing the catastrophic destruction of nature … through extreme weather from the floods in BC to the fire,” he said. “… So when we have this kind of pan-Canadian sense of the urgency of being impacted on nature by our inaction, we also have a political environment that allows for some cooperative action.”
Many federal parties have voiced their support for biodiversity and conservation, and Sreenivasan believes that progress can be made, particularly due to strong commitments on the electoral platforms of the NDP and Bloc Québécois.
“The federal government cannot reverse species loss alone. It is going to require a kind of effort from the whole of society, involving the communities, the private sector and the provincial governments, ”he said.
Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer