Nature bill welcome, needs work to ensure Canada meets its targets

The biodiversity crisis demands immediate action, environmental advocates say

OTTAWA / Traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people—Leading environmental lawyers and advocates are welcoming the federal government’s proposed new Nature Accountability Act but say it doesn’t go far enough to ensure that Canada meets its international obligations to halt and reverse nature loss. 

The proposed Act affirms Canada’s commitment to contribute to the attainment of the targets and goals of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which Canada and other signatories agreed upon at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15). However, it does not enshrine those targets in law or actually require Canada to meet them.

“Canada took a leading role on the international stage in hosting COP15, helping secure global commitment to targets that could make it or break it for nature,” said Anna Johnston, Staff Lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law Association. “Now it’s time to walk the talk and make sure we actually meet those targets for land and waters. This law is a good starting place, but we need to put flesh on its bones.”

Tabled today in the House of Commons, the new law would require the federal government to make plans for meeting the global targets and publicly report on progress. But experts say that by failing to legally affirm the global targets as Canadian ones, and by allowing officials to produce vague documents, the law lets Canada off the hook for actually meeting its obligations.  

"Just like throwing a bucket of water on a burning house, Bill C-73 will do little to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030,” said Rodrigo Estrada Patiño, Program Director from Greenpeace Canada. “The legislation needs significant amendments to its current version to actually meet the goals and targets of the Global Biodiversity Framework, ensure they are met in decisions taken across government, and prioritize Indigenous rights and overall access to nature.” 

Advocates are calling on the federal government to work with other parties on amendments to strengthen the bill to ensure that biodiversity planning and reporting are credible, that laws and actions respect Indigenous rights and support Indigenous-led initiatives, and that federal decision-makers cannot undermine Canada’s ability to protect nature.  

“No country has ever fully met its targets under any previous international agreement,” said Josh Ginsberg, Director of the Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa. “This bill signals that the government is serious about reversing the trend and delivering for nature, but without stronger measures success is far from certain. The bill should require measurable domestic targets setting out what Canada must achieve and when. We need specific, legally enforceable reporting standards to produce results for nature.”


For more information, please contact:

Anna Johnston | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law

Marie-Christine Fiset | Head of Media, Greenpeace Canada

Josh Ginsberg | Lawyer, Ecojustice