Building Momentum: A Progress Update on Canada’s Nature Protection Targets

Introduction and background

The interlinked nature and climate crises are among the most significant global challenges facing humanity. Action is urgently needed to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity, which is essential for maintaining the health of our planet and securing our own future. Canada has shown leadership by committing to protect at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030, which is a core component of the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This ambitious target recognizes the critical role of protected areas in conserving biodiversity and mitigating the effects of climate change.

To achieve the 30% target, federal, provincial and territorial governments must work together with Indigenous Peoples to change the course for nature in Canada. To succeed, all government departments must contribute to this shared goal.

Reaching the 30% protection target by 2030 is possible but will require sustained effort and coordination across all levels of government, working to support the vision of Indigenous Peoples, who have stewarded their ancestral lands for millennia.

This report looks at progress made by federal, provincial and territorial governments over the past two years towards reaching the target of protecting at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030.  To assess this progress, we not only reviewed additional areas protected on the ground, but also indications of progress towards this ultimate goal. We considered three criteria:

  1. Progress towards the target, including commitments, processes, policies or legislation to support implementation (eg. new ambitious protected area targets), agreements with partners to pursue feasibility studies etc.
  2. Support for Indigenous-led conservation, including IPCAs, through funding, legislation, policy, or other public commitments or mechanisms.
  3. Quality considerations, including whether protected areas and Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs) meet international and Canadian quality standards and have effective management practices in place.

Summary of findings

The federal government has made significant investments in nature conservation and has been leading the charge in taking action to stop further loss of biodiversity. Provinces and territories, who hold primary decision-making authority on land, have achieved varying degrees of progress, with some making ambitious commitments and advances over the past year, and others making little or no progress.

Across the country, Indigenous governments have consistently demonstrated their commitment to conserving their ancestral territories on land and at sea, designing innovative plans and initiatives that unite Western science with traditional Indigenous knowledge and wisdom. This commitment and leadership continues to be at the forefront of progress in protecting nature and will be central to halting and reversing biodiversity loss in Canada. However, more comprehensive and consistent support from provincial and territorial governments is critically needed.

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