Trudeau’s Mandate Letters Are a Win for Nature
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released mandate letters containing marching orders for thirty-eight cabinet ministers. These letters determine the objectives and key priorities he’s asking federal ministers to tackle during their term.
Besides outlining important challenges facing Canadians like the housing crisis and COVID-19 supports, this time, the letters contained nature-related objectives that have never been included before.
For the first time in history, government ministers were tasked with halting and reversing the collapse of nature–with a clear time frame to achieve this goal by 2030. “This is game-changing recognition of the urgency of the biodiversity crisis,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada.
In order to meet this important goal, the government must now create a 10-year action plan to ensure reversing nature loss becomes reality. As the letters reinforce, the plan must include the best science and incorporate Indigenous knowledge.
Many of the priorities laid out by the PM in these mandate letters are key to reaching the goal to halt and reverse nature loss–priorities Nature Canada laid out in our Nature Platform, during the 2021 election to encourage Canadians to vote with nature in mind.
It’s a clear sign that nature-lovers’ voices have been heeded and that decision-makers in Ottawa are paying attention.
Some key nature priorities outlined in the mandate letters include:
- Meeting Canada’s targets to protect 25% of land and ocean by 2025, and 30% by 2030
- Supporting new Indigenous Guardians programs and networks. As well as supporting Indigenous communities in establishing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)
- Working with Indigenous partners to better integrate traditional knowledge into fisheries and oceans planning and policy decisions
- New investments in coastal and ocean areas that absorb and store carbon, like wetlands and seagrass meadows
- Implementing a Natural Climate Solutions Fund and delivering on the plan to plant 2 billion trees across the country over 10 years to help reverse nature loss and fight climate change
- Protecting old-growth forests given their crucial role in fighting climate change and nature loss (including a $50M Old Growth Nature Fund for B.C), working with First Nations and local communities
- Creating at least one new urban park in every province and territory, with 15 new urban parks being created by 2030
- New investments to support community-led public greenspace projects with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and nonprofits
- Recognizing the “right to a healthy environment” in Canadian law and prioritizing the clean-up of contaminated sites in areas where Indigenous Peoples, racialized and low-income Canadians live
- Developing an environmental justice strategy and looking at the link between socio-economic status and exposure to environmental hazards and risks
Never before has a federal government put this level of urgency on addressing biodiversity loss, improving access to nature, or advancing reconciliation. And your voice was critical to making it happen.
Since the September election, thousands of Canadians have sent over 50,000 letters asking decision-makers for a plan to tackle these issues. The tenacity and support of the nature community engaged politicians at all levels with a message of hope for nature and the well-being of future generations.
But the work is not done yet. It is so important that decision-makers realize that nature lovers across the country are relying on them to follow through with these promises.
“To act on this commitment [to halt and reverse nature loss], the government will need to develop a comprehensive action plan with provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments. The plan must be grounded in science, Indigenous knowledge, and local perspectives,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada.
At Nature Canada, we are constantly inspired by the actions and dedication of the nature-lovers in our community. We look forward to working to ensure these ambitious priorities are implemented for the benefit of Canadians for generations to come in 2022 and beyond.
Subscribe to our email updates and visit our campaigns to learn more about how you can add your voice towards a Canada that conserves and protects wildlife and natural spaces from coast to coast to coast.