Global Environment Facility Assembly offers Canada a chance to build on COP15 success and turn nature pledges into reality

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Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA]:

As Canada prepares to welcome representatives of 184 countries to Vancouver this week for the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), it has a critical opportunity to build on the momentum of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework established at COP15.

“This is the moment for Canada to follow through on the leadership it showed during COP15 and set the bar for what it will take to turn biodiversity pledges into reality: finance, accountability, Indigenous sovereignty, and international cooperation,” said Pratishtha Singh, Senior International Policy Analyst at Climate Action Network Canada, who will attend the GEF Assembly and will be available for media interviews.

The Seventh GEF Assembly will run from August 22-26, while Canada will also host a Ministerial on Nature on August 23. The Assembly will include the launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, announced at COP15 in Montreal last December and approved by the GEF council in June. No country has announced a contribution to the fund yet; Canada should be the first one to do so, setting a high bar as host and galvanizing momentum.

The Assembly also offers Canada an opportunity to commit to an accountability framework to ensure that it follows through on its biodiversity targets, similarly to Canada’s Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act for greenhouse gas emissions. After more than a decade of missed global biodiversity targets, legislation is crucial to hold governments to account on their promises to protect and restore nature, and advance conservation efforts that center Indigenous rights, leadership and decolonization. Last month, the European Union passed its landmark nature restoration law. Canada could be the next to introduce a Nature and Biodiversity Act – a proposal for which Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault voiced support last year. By doing so, Canada would set an example for other countries in the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People to follow, cementing the legacy of COP15 and translating its ambition into real wins for species and ecosystems.

GEF delegates must ensure that their plans follow and respect the leadership and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples, who are often criminalized for defending their lands and critical ecosystems. Nature-Based Solutions and carbon markets risk leading to land grabs and greenwashing; real and just solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises require Land Back.

On the diplomatic front, Minister Guilbeault’s upcoming trip to Beijing on the heels of the GEF Assembly signals that both Canada and China seek to build on the common ground they established in Montreal. After the disappointing outcomes and growing distrust at major international climate events this summer – the Bonn climate talks, Paris Financial Pact Summit, and G20 climate ministerial – nurturing the Canada-China collaboration on the environment could help unblock progress in the lead-up to COP28.

Shane Moffatt, the Head of the Food and Nature campaign, Greenpeace Canada, said:

“The Canadian government must now turn promises made at COP15 in Montreal into reality.  Domestically, this means swiftly passing new legislation to ensure that targets are achieved and increasing support for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). Globally, we need to avoid greenwash like carbon offsets being used to fund nature protection while providing much more funding for the Global South where people are most exposed to the impacts of nature destruction.”

Josh Ginsberg, lawyer at Ecojustice, said:

“This summer’s record-breaking heat and wildfires underscores the urgent need for action to tackle the dual climate and biodiversity crises. Ecojustice applauds the leadership Canada showed at COP15, including Minister Guilbeault’s support for enshrining Canada’s 2030 nature target in an accountability law.

“We urge the government to follow through on these ambitions by developing a legislative framework, in ethical cooperation with Indigenous leadership, that binds Canada’s nature targets to a clear timeline and puts Canada on a course to restoring abundance in nature and ensuring a livable world for generations to come.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Dina Ni, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada, +1(416)820-2148

Vicky Coo, Communications Lead, Climate Action Network