Canada to prioritize protecting land and ocean to address biodiversity loss

CPAWS applauds Speech from the Throne re-commitment to protect nature in partnership with Indigenous Peoples

November 23, 2021, traditional unceded Algonquin Territory/Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) welcomes the federal government’s commitment in today’s Speech from the Throne to protect our land and ocean through strengthened partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and respecting traditional knowledge, reaffirming Canada’s strong commitment to address the interconnected crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. In the words of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General, “our Earth is in danger”, and “we cannot afford to wait.”

The Speech signals the federal government’s continued commitment to deliver on Canada’s goals of protecting 25% of its land and ocean by 2025 and at least 30% by 2030. This follows on earlier federal government nature commitments that include creating 10 new national parks and 10 national marine conservation areas, establishing 15 new national urban parks across the country, and helping protect Old Growth Forests in British Columbia. The federal government has also promised to take a whole-of-government approach to conserving nature, including putting in place a “biodiversity lens” as part of the government-wide climate lens currently under development. This would help ensure all federal departments take impacts on nature and climate into account in decision-making.

Implementing conservation commitments in ways that advance reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Canada is essential. Federal investment in Indigenous-led conservation and stewardship programs such as Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), land use plans, and Indigenous Guardians are key to our collective success in conserving nature.

On the international stage, the Climate COP-26 that recently took place in Glasgow highlighted the importance of tackling the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss in an integrated way. At the upcoming Biodiversity COP-15, in Kunming, China next spring, Canada must play a leadership role in ensuring the new Global Biodiversity Framework delivers the ambitious, transformational actions needed to save nature – our life support system.

“Our 2021 Report Card shows that action by provinces, territories, and municipalities is key for Canada to meet its nature goals at home,” says Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS National Executive Director. “Budget 2021 set out the largest investment in nature protection in Canada’s history. Swift and effective implementation of this funding, with a focus on supporting action at the local and regional level, including by Indigenous governments, is required to protect and restore the habitat needed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and tackle climate change.”

With our 13 regional chapters from Yukon to Newfoundland and Labrador, and a national office located in Ottawa, CPAWS is looking forward to continuing to work with governments at all levels, Indigenous Nations and organizations, and other partners to deliver on these significant commitments to land and ocean protection, nature-based climate solutions, and natural infrastructure in ways that effectively conserve biodiversity and help tackle climate change.


  • Read The MPA Monitor, our recent ocean report on how well-protected and well-managed Canada’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are. Half the area Canada is counting towards marine protection targets was assessed; the majority was found to be weakly protected.
  • Read our Report Card on Canada’s progress in protecting its land and ocean. It found that more action is required by provinces and territories to save nature and keep Canada’s protected areas pledge to the world.
  • CPAWS is a member of the Green Budget Coalition (GBC), which is a group of 23 leading environmental organizations in Canada that analyze environmental sustainability issues and provide fiscal and budgetary recommendations to the federal government. Read the Coalition’s Recommendations for Budget 2022, including putting a biodiversity lens in place for nature conservation, increasing connectivity in land and ocean protected area networks, and committing permanent funding for protected areas ($1.4 billion per year in permanent funding increasing to $2.8 billion per year by 2030-31 for managing terrestrial and marine protected areas).
  • The protection of land and ocean is critical to halting the worldwide loss of wildlife habitat, which is the number one cause of population declines for species, in Canada and around the planet. In Canada, more than 600 species are listed as at risk of extinction.
  • Evidence shows that a minimum of 30% and up to 70% or more of land and ocean ecosystems need to be protected to sustain a healthy planet and secure essential ecosystem services for people. CPAWS’ long-standing goal of protecting half of Canada’s land, freshwater, and ocean is well-supported in the literature.
  • Effective Marine Protected Areas are a key component of a strong Blue Economy. Recent studies show that protecting 30% of the ocean in effective and well-managed MPAs can restore ocean health and produce an economic return on investments of ten to one.
  • On November 18, 2021, CPAWS was one of 200 nature groups in Canada who signed an open letter to the federal government about prioritizing the protection and recovery of nature, as promised during the last federal election.
  • In September 2021, Motion 101 was approved by an overwhelming majority at the World Conservation Congress hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Motion 101 recognizes the need to conserve at least half the planet to successfully tackle the biodiversity and climate crises. Its approval signals momentum for a dramatic scale-up of land and ocean protection.
  • In June 2021, Leaders of G7 nations, including Canada, approved a Nature Compact in which they commit to a global mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, including by protecting at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030 in their own countries, and to championing 30X30 as a global target.
  • In October 2020, Canada joined the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) of Nature and People, made up of 70 countries championing the 30X30 target.
  • Also in October 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined more than 90 world leaders in signing the Leader’s Pledge for Nature, which includes commitments to put nature and climate at the heart of COVID-19 recovery strategies and investments.
  • In June 2020, Canada joined the Global Ocean Alliance and committed to protect 30% of its ocean by 2030. This commitment was reiterated when Canada joined the HAC.
  • Visit our Successes webpage for highlights from our conservation work over the past fiscal year.


The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only charity dedicated to the protection of public land, freshwater and ocean with a strong national and regional presence across the country. Working in a way that respects the sovereignty and leadership of Indigenous nations, we are focused on conserving nature to respond to the dual crises of accelerated biodiversity loss and climate change. Our vision is that at least half of land, freshwater and ocean in Canada is permanently protected to sustain nature and people for current and future generations. For more information about CPAWS and the work we do to safeguard Canada’s natural heritage, visit Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Donate today. Take action.


For more information, please contact:

Tracy Walden
National Director, Communications and Development, CPAWS