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Healthy environment, healthy economy: Can’t we have both?

“We have to rebut the myth that there is a conflict between economic and environmental health.” –UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon

Yesterday, joined by over 500 organizations, citizen groups and businesses representing millions of individuals across the country, CPAWS took part in the national Black Out Speak Out campaign to speak out on behalf of nature and democracy – two core Canadian values currently under threat.

Our government has introduced sweeping changes to environmental legislation in a massive omnibus budget bill that puts our natural resources at risk in favour of fast-tracking potentially destructive industrial development projects. There is little to no opportunity for proper debate of these changes within Parliament, and there are no efforts being made to include the Canadian public in the decision-making process.

Ironically, the United Nations has chosen “The Green Economy: Does It Include You?” as the theme for today’s internationally-celebrated World Environment Day. Most of us here in Canada are forced to answer that question with a resounding “No!”

A green economy is described as one which “results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” In other words, a green economy is one which emphasizes a healthy balance between the economic and environmental aspects of development, and one which is socially inclusive.

In a country like Canada, where our natural landscapes and democratic rights are core components of our national identity, we should be falling over ourselves to support the notion of a green economy. We should be setting a higher standard of environmental regulation not only for our own benefit but also for the sake of other countries which look to us as world leaders.

On days like today, when people the world over are celebrating the wonders of their surrounding natural environment, we are reminded of the importance of protecting these wonders and we retain the hope that our government will recognize how deeply these issues resonate with all Canadians. The overwhelming support for the Black Out Speak Out movement is only the tip of the iceberg. We can expect to see the momentum of this movement carry through to all sectors of society.

It is not wishful thinking to believe that where there is a will, there is a way – and there’s no doubt in our minds that there is indeed a will. Along with all Canadians, we share a deep love for our natural and wild spaces and we want to see them protected for future generations.

From everyone here at CPAWS, we would like to extend   thanks to all of our supporters and to everyone who has joined the Black Out Speak Out movement – together, our voices are louder than ever and we know we’ll achieve great things.

Happy World Environment Day everyone – enjoy it!