Y2Y among Canadian environmental groups call for ambitious global and national action to save nature - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

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Y2Y among Canadian environmental groups call for ambitious global and national action to save nature

Trip through B.C.'s Columbia Headwatesr in August 2020. Photo: Nadine Raynolds

In the leadup to the UN’s COP15 (NatureCOP) in Montreal, Y2Y is among 17 Canadian environmental organizations calling on Canadian and world leaders to deliver a win for the future of people and the planet by landing a new global deal to save nature, and committing to a national action plan to achieve this at home.

Nature loss is an environmental and social issue that threatens the health of people and the planet alike. Global wildlife populations have plummeted by nearly 70 percent in the last 50 years due primarily to habitat loss while communities continue to lose access to life-sustaining resources including food, clean air to breathe, and drinkable water.

Following COP27 in Egypt, the connection between climate change and biodiversity loss — two of the biggest crises we currently face — is finally being recognized.

Climate change is one of the top three drivers of biodiversity loss, while biodiversity loss makes ecosystems increasingly vulnerable to climate change. With each crisis exacerbating the other, solutions are needed to address both simultaneously and quickly — before it’s too late.

“We all want a future that includes nature. That can start with Canada’s leadership at COP15. It should continue with commitments and funding of key solutions such as implementing 30×30, increasing landscape connectivity and supporting Indigenous-led conservation,” says Jodi Hilty, president and chief scientist at Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. “Canada is already home to models that work, including the large landscape vision in the Yellowstone to Yukon region — we need more such ambition.”

Implementing an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework and Canadian Biodiversity Action Plan can transform the world and halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. A whole-of-government and whole-of society approach is needed for both these plans to deliver the transformational change needed to live in harmony with nature and address the environmental injustices that harm nature and people.

“Protecting at least 30 percent of land and ocean globally and in Canada is a critical and achievable step towards halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. Canada can achieve this important target and demonstrate true global leadership if federal, provincial and territorial governments all recognize and prioritize support for Indigenous-led conservation across the country,” says Sandra Schwartz, national executive director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Many of the opportunities to protect land and ocean in Canada are led by Indigenous Peoples, and supporting Indigenous-led conservation is an essential part of reconciliation. Respecting the sovereignty and leadership of Indigenous Peoples and supporting Indigenous-led conservation must be at the centre of any plan to save nature.

There is an urgent need to halt and reverse nature loss now for the future of people and the planet. NatureCOP is a historic moment where global leaders must agree on a new plan to ensure the full recovery of nature and sustain healthy societies into the future. Canada must take action at home to do the same.

“Canada is already home to models that work, including the large landscape vision in the Yellowstone to Yukon region — we need more such ambition.”

Y2Y’s Dr. Jodi Hilty

To achieve this, the Global Biodiversity Framework and the Canadian Action Plan must include requirements to:

  • Recognize and respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights, knowledge, and conservation leadership
  • Effectively protect at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030 in well-connected networks of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, ensuring
  • Indigenous rights are respected
  • Strengthen actions to recover species at risk and restore degraded ecosystems
  • Sustainably manage resource-based and extractive industries including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and mining across the entire land and seascape
  • Put biodiversity at the forefront of decision-making across governments and societies
  • Strengthen accountability measures to support implementation, including creating stronger laws in Canada
  • Invest adequate financial resources, including repurposing subsidies harmful to nature, and
  • Promote equitable access to nature for all people.

The Government of Canada has already made ambitious commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss in our country, including by protecting 30 per cent of land and ocean by 2030 and supporting Indigenous leadership in conservation. Now we need a commitment to an ambitious action plan for all levels of government in Canada to deliver on these promises.

Canadian environmental groups are calling on the Government of Canada to seize this historic moment at NatureCOP by showing leadership at home and globally by committing to an ambitious new plan and action to stop nature loss and support a healthy, sustainable environment across our society.