Nature Canada

Nature on the Hill

An annual springtime event that brings together nature groups from across the country to talk with parliamentarians.

About the event

Nature on the Hill is an opportunity to showcase the strength of Canada’s nature community and spur the federal government to take action to halt and reverse the loss of nature. Delegates from nature groups have a chance to talk with MPs, Senators and Ministers about the issues that are most important to them.

Throughout the week of Nature on the Hill, nature groups representing a wide range of interests—from watershed alliances to birders to faith-based groups—participate in meetings with MPs, Senators and Ministers. The meetings are all in-person in Ottawa, but can sometimes be held in the ridings of an MP or Senator. That way, we ensure that voices from all corners of the country are brought to the table.

This year’s Nature on the Hill is happening April 29 to May 2, 2024. Find out how you can participate!

Hannah Dean, Director of Organizing at Nature Canada, addresses delegates to Nature on the Hill 2023

Why we’re doing this work

Democracy depends on the ability of citizens to voice opinions and priorities directly to our elected officials. While nature lovers across Canada work hard to protect and restore our natural spaces, they don’t always have an opportunity to talk face-to-face with decision-makers. Nature on the Hill offers the chance for nature lovers to become nature defenders… and speak with one voice.

One of Nature Canada’s core missions is to make nature (and nature advocacy) more accessible to diverse communities. That’s why we’ve sought out a wide range of participants in Nature on the Hill, including naturalist groups, faith-based organizations, land trusts and Indigenous groups from across the country. We consider the event to be one small but significant step towards reconciliation. And each year, we’re looking to make participation even more diverse.

“I think the strength of Nature on the Hill is bringing together people who might not always want to be part of policy discussions. The nature community is huge across the country, but we tend to prefer to walk in the woods rather than engage in these discussions. It’s really important that our voices are heard, especially now that we have this dual biodiversity and climate crises.”
— Jordy Thomson, Ecology Action Centre (Halifax, NS)

Nature on the Hill participants, including Nature Canada Staff, in 2023

Nature on the Hill 2024 (April 29 to May 2, 2024)

This year, it’s all about a biodiversity action plan.

“NatureCOP” (the U.N. Biodiversity Conference held in Montreal in December 2022) resulted in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This historic agreement commits signatory countries  to halting and reversing nature loss and protecting 30% of land and waters by 2030. Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault promised to deliver a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) to meet these goals. That’s why this year’s Nature on the Hill is so important. We want to ensure that cabinet ministers, parliamentarians and senior officials understand the importance of delivering a strong, workable NBSAP.

If you belong to a nature group, find out how you can participate in this year’s Nature on the Hill.

If you are a parliamentarian and wish to participate, please contact Simon L’Allier:

Nature on the Hill – A Timeline

April 8, 2019

In the first year of Nature on the Hill (“Nature Day”), fifty delegates from 36 nature organizations across the country participated in 46 meetings with MPs from all parties. Delegates were pleased to be joined by Hector the Shark, who came a long way to speak up for ocean protection.  We asked parliamentarians to double protection for nature in order to meet the government’s commitment to the United Nations Aichi Biodiversity Targets (to protect 17% of land and inland waters and 10% of marine and coastal areas by 2020).

One of the highlights was meeting with  Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson and presenting a petition asking for protection of the Laurentian Whale passage, with signatures of almost 8,000 Canadians. This valuable marine  area received full government protection just a few weeks later.

For many participants, it was their first time meeting with a federal politician, and they indicated in overwhelming numbers  that  they’d love to do it again. And so a tradition was born….

Nature Day participants (2019), including Hector the Shark,  gather in front of Centre Block on Parliament Hill.

February 4, 2020

In this first year of COVID, we were lucky with the timing. We managed to wrap up both Nature on the Hill (Feb. 4) and our Nature-Based Climate Solutions Summit (Feb. 5 and 6) before the pandemic was officially declared. At Nature on the Hill Day 2020, we continued to press for achieving the Aichi targets and for the long-term budget investments required to meet these goals. We also urged the government to follow through on its commitment to play an active role on the world stage to ensure adoption of the 30×30 goal.

February 16-19, 2021

In the second year of the pandemic, we switched to virtual mode… with all its challenges. Despite struggles with the mute button and cats walking in front of screens, the fully virtual Nature on the Hill was a great success, with delegates from over 65 nature groups participating. The week featured a “Green Pandemic Recovery” town hall with 1000 attendees, with guests Jonathan Wilkinson (Environment and Climate Change Minister) and Bernadette Jordan (Fisheries and Oceans Minister). We continued to press the budget issue, submitting over 20,000 letters from Canadians urging Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland to ensure protected areas would be  a budget priority.

Nature on the Hill 2021: the virtual edition

February 14-18, 2022  

The vision for this year: a nature-positive future.  Seventy-five nature groups convened with parliamentarians to ask for a comprehensive action plan— informed by Indigenous Peoples, experts and local communities—to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.  Our Nature Network partner, “For Peat’s Sake,” was featured on CBC News, and we held several roundtable discussions with VIPs and nature groups including Minister Guilbeault; Ron Hallman, the CEO of Parks Canada; and Tony Maas, a Senior Policy Advisor with the Prime Minister’s office.

And we started looking ahead to the U.N. Biodiversity Conference (“NatureCOP”) to be held in Montreal in December 2022, hoping aloud that Canada would show leadership on the world stage…

March 7-10, 2023

And yes, NatureCOP turned out to be a success. Negotiations at Nature CoP resulted in the Global Biodiversity Framework, which committed the signatories to protecting thirty percent of lands and waters by 2030. To meet the goals of the Framework,  Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault promised to deliver a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). We sent over 10,000 letters demanding that the government make good on its promise, and we’re still pressing decision-makers on this issue.  That’s why this year’s Nature on the Hill could be the most important one so far!

Send a Letter to Reverse Nature Loss

If you can’t join us on Parliament Hill, you can always let the federal government know that they need to keep their commitment to creating a National Biodiversity Strategy.

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.