Canada’s international commitments on climate and biodiversity

Halting and reversing global biodiversity loss has become a stated goal but this will only be achievable globally with much greater support for developing countries, who hold most of the world’s biodiversity. A study on conservation finance called for a doubling of biodiversity assistance to developing countries.

Canada and other developed countries are active parties to resource exploitation in developing countries as consumers and investors. And the financial and economic benefits of protecting 30% of the world’s natural ecosystems exceeds the costs by a factor of at least 5:1.

Canada has shown leadership with its commitment to spend $5.3 billion over five years to help developing countries with climate adaptation and mitigation. Will the government show this same leadership on biodiversity? Canada’s earmarking of 20% of its climate finance for nature-based solutions that benefit biodiversity is laudatory. This, along with Canada’s support for the Global Environment Facility, goes some way toward meeting our responsibility. But Canada needs to do much more, especially since some important conservation needs are not addressed well through nature-based solutions. These include the problems of illegal wildlife trade, invasive species, lack of funding for protected areas and destructive fishing practices

When Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meet in Montreal in December 2022, Canada should emerge as a leader along with donor countries (Norway, France, Sweden, Germany) in combined domestic and international biodiversity spending in relation to Gross National Income. This would mean annual spending of $2.1 billion, with $600 million in international biodiversity aid, on top of Canada’s domestic spending of about $1.5 billion. How funds are applied is important. Preventing further loss of tropical ecosystems is vital for biodiversity and for climate adaptation and mitigation. Canada’s migratory birds are being impacted by habitat loss at their wintering areas and migration stopovers in Latin America and the Caribbean, and that can be addressed. Conservation organizations that partner with Indigenous peoples—key conservation allies in developing countries—are achieving conservation gains on a large geographic scale. Similarly, gains can be made in empowering local communities for forest and fisheries management.

In addition to ramping up international biodiversity spending, Canada also has an obligation to increase international climate finance to developing countries. The Green Budget Coalition maintains that an annual contribution of $3.5 billion represents Canada’s fair share of the $100 billion commitment from industrial countries, based on our responsibility for cumulative global emissions.

Recommended Investments:

  • $2.4 billion over four years in international assistance for biodiversity [GAC, ECCC]
  • $14 billion over four years for international climate finance [GAC, ECCC]