Environment Canada Failed to Provide National Biodiversity Leadership

Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and General Counsel

“Environment and Climate Change Canada has failed to provide national leadership to conserve Canada’s biodiversity,” says Julie Gelfand, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

The Environment Commissioner’s Spring 2018 audit report focused on federal performance with respect to six of the nineteen so-called Aichi Targets developed in 2010 under the Convention for Biological Diversity.

In her report, Gelfand said that “Environment and Climate Change Canada has focused its leadership efforts on attending international meetings on behalf of Canada.” “(T)he Department narrowly defined its role as Canada’s National Focal Point… “The Department’s priorities and efforts as National Focal Point did not include working with federal, provincial, and territorial partners to identify specific actions and initiatives required to achieve Canada’s biodiversity targets.” “(T)he Department did not establish an overall plan to meet Canada’s 2020 biodiversity targets . . . We also found that the Department did not define the actions and initiatives needed to achieve the targets.”

Nature Canada is not surprised by the findings of the Environment Commissioner, given recent reports that populations of half of Canada’s wildlife species are shrinking, and populations of shorebirds and insectivore and grassland birds are falling rapidly.

However, Nature Canada is encouraged by Environment Minister McKenna’s so-called “Pathway” initiative to work with provincial and territorial governments to establish protected areas representing 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater (which is one of these Aichi targets).  Nature Canada is also encouraged by the 2018 federal budget, which set aside $1.3 billion over five years to protect natural areas and species at risk.


For more about the Commissioners report, read the following, Federal government not doing enough to manage risk of fish farms, environmental watchdog says, from Susan Lunn at CBC News.

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