April 25, 2019 – Montréal, Quebec
Nature is our most precious resource-yet it is increasingly under threat from climate change, industrial activity, and habitat loss. Since 1970, the world has lost approximately 60 percent of the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
The Government of Canada is working to double the amount of nature protected across Canada’s lands and oceans and has launched the $1.3 billion Nature Legacy-the single-largest investment to protect nature in Canadian history. Canada’s leadership is essential to reverse the drastic loss of animals, plants, and habitat worldwide because it is home to the second-largest remaining wilderness area, one fifth of the world’s fresh water, and the world’s longest coastline.
This global biodiversity crisis requires a coordinated and sustained global response. That’s why-today, in Montréal-Canada welcomed global leaders from government, business, foundations, Indigenous communities, and non-governmental organizations for an inaugural Nature Champions Summit. The meeting, co-hosted by Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, and Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson, kicked off a global year-long push to chart an ambitious, shared path toward protecting the world’s nature.
The Summit’s participants included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who provided a keynote address to participants; environment ministers from countries leading the way in protecting nature, such as Costa Rica, Norway, and the Seychelles; Indigenous leaders; prominent conservation advocates such as Harrison Ford, filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau, and National Geographic Chief Scientist Jonathan Baillie; businesses including BlackRock, Kering, and Salesforce; and philanthropists including the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, the Schad Foundation, the Metcalf Foundation, the Moore Foundation, and the Wyss Foundation.
Summit participants committed to working together as part of a high-ambition coalition to accelerate the protection of nature, promote new solutions, and inspire ambitious action for global nature protection.
Minister McKenna concluded the Summit by highlighting three specific outcomes:
International call to action – The Summit resulted in a global call to action, recognizing that protecting nature has important intrinsic value, supports strong economies and communities, and is a critical tool for fighting climate change and adapting to its impacts. The call to action includes commitments to increase the amount of nature protected worldwide and mobilize new resources to support that goal; address the root causes of biodiversity loss; and ensure global economic, cultural, political, and social decision-making reflect the critical need to protect nature.
Canada’s leadership – Ministers McKenna and Wilkinson committed to continue Canada’s leadership on protecting nature at home and abroad and work in partnership with provinces, territories, and Indigenous Peoples to achieve the Government of Canada’s goal of doubling the amount of protected nature in Canada by 2020. Through initiatives such as the recently established Edéhzhíe Protected Area and Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area, Canada has already protected 1.66 million km2 of land and ocean-an area bigger than Quebec.
New global research – Minister McKenna announced that Canada will join international partners and the World Economic Forum in supporting new research into the economic opportunity of nature protection. The study will explore the connections between climate change, biodiversity, forests, oceans, and land use; examine the economic value that nature provides; and outline the opportunities for financing conservation globally.
Canada continues to make swift progress toward our 2020 goal of protecting a total of 2.3 million km2 of land and ocean. Earlier this week, the federal government announced the intent to establish four new national wildlife areas: one on Isle Haute, Nova Scotia; and three in St. Lawrence islands, in Quebec. Minister McKenna pointed to significant progress being made toward establishing new national park reserves in Thaidene Nëné and the South Okanagan-Similkameen, and the intent to establish new protected areas in Eastern James Bay and the Magdalen Islands-in partnership with provinces, territories, and Indigenous Peoples. She also highlighted programs such as the Indigenous Guardians and Indigenous-led conservation areas, such as Edéhzhíe in the Northwest Territories, which will help preserve Canada’s natural places and wildlife for future generations.
At the Summit, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson, reinforced Canada’s commitment to protecting our oceans by adopting new protection standards for federal marine protected areas and other effective conservation measures. These new standards will help better protect sensitive and important areas in our oceans from the potentially harmful effects of industrial activities. As part of this commitment, Minister Wilkinson announced the designation of the Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area, off the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, as the first federal marine protected area to apply these new standards.
The Nature Champions Summit kicked off a series of global meetings focused on building momentum toward 2020, when leaders representing 190 countries will come together for the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in China. Next month, G7 environment ministers will gather in France, where nature protection will be a central theme, and highlights from the Nature Champions Summit will be brought forward by Minister McKenna.
“Nature is under threat around the world. That’s why Canada’s leadership counts. We are proud to be working with governments, Indigenous Peoples, businesses, foundations, and civil society to urgently increase the protection of the world’s nature and wildlife. Together, we can build the momentum and global cooperation required to protect the healthy natural world we value and depend on.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Preserving our oceans and marine life is a global priority that requires immediate action. The discussions held at today’s summit have put forward innovative ideas to address our collective challenge. Canada has taken a strong leadership role in oceans management by helping to shape international guidance on conservation and adopting high standards of protection here at home. Together with our partners, we remain committed to achieving clean, healthy, and productive oceans, now and for the benefit of future generations.”
– Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
More protected areas in Canada announced this week:
- Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area, off the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador
- A national wildlife area on Isle Haute, Nova Scotia
- St. Lawrence islands project (three national wildlife areas) in Quebec
- Montréal greenbelt in Quebec
- Preserving land in significant watersheds and improving capacity for Indigenous-led conservation in New Brunswick
- Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area in Nova Scotia
- Georgian Bay Land Trust protected area in Ontario