Stepping up action

Connecting people to nature, connecting the world with Canada.
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Canada aims to conserve at least 17% of its land and inland waters by 2020.
Climate change is real. It is here. And it cannot be wished or voted away.

Canada is proud to host this year’s World Environment Day. The United Nations General Assembly first designated June 5 as World Environment Day 45 years ago. Today, it remains a chance to connect with our environment and each other, and to continue to build a more sustainable world for our kids and grandkids.

With Canada celebrating its 150th birthday this year, it’s especially fitting that we will host this year’s World Environment Day. We’re offering free admission to our national parks, marine conservation areas, and historic sites throughout 2017. There’s never been a better time to visit Canada and discover all our beautiful country has to offer.

This year’s theme for World Environment Day, “Connecting People to Nature,” reminds us of the intricate links between land, water, air and all living things. In Canada, nature is all around us. We’re the second-largest country in the world, with the longest coastline in the world, one of the largest supplies of fresh water on the planet, and roughly a quarter of the world’s wetlands. From rainforests along British Columbia’s Pacific coast, to permafrost and tundra in the Arctic, to the hills and lakes of the Laurentians and the red sandstone of Prince Edward Island, our natural landscapes shape who we are as a country. We are blessed to live in such a vast and beautiful land, and this year’s World Environment Day theme highlights both how important access to nature is for people, and how vital healthy ecosystems are to our global quality of life.

World Environment Day challenges us to leave a cleaner world for our children and grandchildren. Climate change is real. It is here. And it cannot be wished or voted away. That is why our government has taken real, concrete action to address climate change, and to protect our clean air and water.

Last year, we introduced the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Developed in partnership with the provinces and territories, and in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, it is Canada’s plan to grow a cleaner, more innovative economy that reduces emissions and protects our environment, while creating good, well-paying middle class jobs.

We also launched the groundbreaking Oceans Protection Plan, which will vastly improve our marine safety and ability to conserve the precious ecosystems of our oceans. With Indigenous and Northern partners, we’re exploring how to protect the future of the Arctic Ocean’s “last ice area” where summer ice remains each year.

Meanwhile, we’ve committed to conserve at least 17 per cent of the country’s terrestrial areas and inland waters by 2020, and to protect and restore our abundant coastal and marine ecosystems by 5 per cent by the end of this year. We’ll also continue working with federal, provincial and territorial governments to better protect species at risk, and to support recovery efforts and habitat conservation.

I am proud of the work our government is doing – together with partners in Canada and around the globe – to address climate change and build a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future. It was an honour to join with leaders from 194 other parties last year to finalize the historic Paris Agreement, which outlines ambitious actions to combat climate change, adapt to its effects, and collectively build a sustainable world. Canada is committed to working with the global community to protect the environment we all share.

While these domestic and international actions mark significant steps to care for our planet, more needs to be done. As the Paris Agreement kicks into action, we must all increase our actions and ambition. In Canada, we recognize the unique contributions that Indigenous Peoples, young Canadians, and communities across our country can make to create concrete and local solutions to respond to climate change, while building a cleaner, more innovative economy. We know we must all step up.

Together, and only together, can we preserve the clean air and water we share, and pass a planet on to our kids and grandkids that is better than how we found it. ▲