Dear Prime Minister:
Canada’s expansive, diverse natural bounty is our greatest national asset. Protecting and stewarding this abundant natural habitat is a responsibility incumbent upon all Canadians. For this reason, when we launched the Smart Prosperity Initiative in 2016, we identified conserving and valuing nature as one of five key actions for building a stronger, cleaner economy.
As a diverse group of leaders from business and civil society across Canada, we congratulate you and your government for making real progress on coordinating a national effort to address climate change and move towards a low carbon, competitive economy. We urge you to advance an equally timely agenda to support the protection of nature and biodiversity.
The scale of Canada’s natural endowment is staggering. Our Great Lakes and inland waters hold 20% of the world’s surface freshwater. We have 24% of the world’s wetlands, 25% of the global temperate rainforest area, and 33% of the world’s boreal forest. Canada holds almost one third of the global land-based carbon storage – a critical component in the fight against climate change.
This rich diversity of natural habitats is vital for many reasons: it makes an invaluable contribution to Canadians’ health, well-being and national identity; it is integral to Indigenous communities’ economic and cultural sustainability, rights, and ways of life; and it provides irreplaceable habitat for thousands of wildlife species. But that biodiversity is at risk. Half of Canada’s wildlife species are declining, with populations falling by an average of 83% since 1970. We can – and must – take action to halt this decline.
Conserving nature is also a smart economic investment. Every year, Canadians spend over $40 billion on outdoor activities in nature. Our marketable natural resource assets alone are worth an estimated $750 billion, according to Statistics Canada. And their full value is much higher – providing vital ecosystem services like water filtration, stormwater management, carbon sequestration and crop pollination that support economic sectors and communities in every corner of the country.
With its rich natural heritage, Canada can play a global leadership role in conservation. Our respective organizations have contributed directly to nature protection in many ways: donating oil and gas permits to help create protected areas, setting aside private land for habitat and wildlife conservation, funding and leading large-scale conservation work across Canada, and adopting certification schemes and best management practices for natural resources. And we are prepared to do more.
There is a critical window of opportunity right now for Canada to ramp up its efforts to conserve nature, protect endangered wildlife, and meet our international commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity – including protecting at least 17% of our lands and inland waters and 10% of our coastal and marine areas by 2020. Doing so will involve a range of conservation measures, from basic science and citizen engagement, to habitat restoration, stewardship, co-management and protection. It also will require effective processes for impact assessment and species-at-risk management, which provide the certainty needed for development to go ahead in a responsible, timely and sustainable manner.
As Canada celebrates 150 years, the time is right for the federal, provincial and territorial governments, working with Indigenous communities, the private sector, philanthropists and civil society, to make an historic investment in conserving our natural habitats, protecting species at risk, and securing the natural capital that is the foundation of our health, wealth and well-being. We are ready to assist in any way we can. Together as Canadians let’s stand up for nature.
Meredith Adler, Executive Director, Student Energy
Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey and company
Ross Beaty, Executive Chairman, Alterra Power Corp; Chairman, Pan American Silver Corp
John Coyne, Vice President, Legal & External Affairs and General Counsel, Unilever Canada
Michael Crothers, President & Canada Country Chair, Shell Canada
Arlene Dickinson, CEO, Venture Communications
Richard P. Eno, CEO, BioAmber
Stewart Elgie, Smart Prosperity co-chair; Professor of law and economics, University of Ottawa
Phil Fontaine, Special Advisor, Royal Bank of Canada, Former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations
Greg Kiessling, Executive Chairman, Bullfrog Power
John Lounds, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada
David Miller, President and CEO, WWF-Canada
Lorraine Mitchelmore, Smart Prosperity co-chair; CEO, Field Upgrading; Former President & Canada Country Chair, Shell Canada
Merrell-Ann Phare, Founding Executive Director, Centre for Indigenous Resources
David Runnalls, Board Chair, Pembina Institute
Jean Simard, President and CEO, Aluminium Association of Canada, and co-founder, SWITCH
Vicky Sharpe, Founding President and CEO, Sustainable Development Technology Canada
Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President Sustainability & External Affairs, Teck Resources
Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada
Rick Smith, Executive Director, Broadbent Institute
John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO, RBC
Kirsten Tisdale, Managing Partner Government and Public Sector, EY (Ernst & Young)
Scott Vaughan, President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development
Annette Verschuren, Smart Prosperity co-chair; CEO, NRStor; former CEO, Home Depot Canada
Rob Wesseling, President and CEO, The Cooperators
Galen Weston, President, Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
The list of organization and community leaders is growing – add your name!
Amir Azhari, President and CEO, AOMS Technologies
Kody Baker, CEO VeloMetro Mobility
Rick Bates, CEO, Canadian Wildlife Federation
Benoit M. Bedard, Co-Founder, Amotus Solutions
John Cook, President and CEO, Greenchip Financial Corp.
Stephen Cornish, CEO, David Suzuki Foundation
Judith Cullington, Principal, JCA Judith Cullington & Associates
Emily Dutton, Officer, Treasurer, Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity
Ted Ferguson, President, The Delphi Group
Mike Gerbis, CEO, GLOBE Series
Karla Guyn, CEO, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Éric Hébert-Daly, National Executive Director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council
Anuraga Jain, CEO, EcoSolar Solutions
Joanna Kerr, Executive Director, Greenpeace Canada
Todd Latham, Director, Canadian Water Summit
Vanessa LeBourdais, Executive Producer, DreamRider Productions
Cameron Mack, Executive Director, Wildlife Habitat Canada
Thomas McAuley-Biasi, Chair, Emerging Leaders for Biodiversity
Silke Nebel, Principal, Science to Action Consulting
Michael Keating, Founder, The Sustainability Report
Devon Page, Executive Director, Ecojustice
Thomas F. Pedersen, Chair, Canadian Climate Forum
Tim Penketh, CEO, TheFutureEconomy.ca
Kim Perrotta, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
John Purkis, Director, The Natural Capital Lab
Paul Rak, President VeriForm Inc
Terry Rees, Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations
Jill Roberts, Principal, The Writing Department
Louis Roy, President, OPTEL Group
Thomas J. Sawyer, General Manager, Sunfish Intuitive Inc.
Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature
Albi Sole, Executive Director, Outdoor Council of Canada / Conseil canadien de plein air
Florent Thevenin, Director, TheFutureEconomy.ca
Laurie Thomson, Chair, Chisholm Thomson Family Foundation
For more information, please contact: