Statement for World Environment Day: Biodiversity, the foundation of life on earth

OTTAWA – Biodiversity is the theme of the 2020 United Nations World Environment Day. “With one million plant and animal species facing extinction, there has never been a more important time to focus on the issue of biodiversity,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

A recent study published in the Journal Nature cautions that while most species can survive warming temperatures in the short term, many will not be able to endure higher temperatures in the long-term threatening the sudden collapse of ecosystems. 

“Most Canadians now accept the science of climate change, but the crash in biodiversity is not as well understood,” said Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “Scientists are warning that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. The last one was 65 million years ago. Human activity is the cause of the current mass extinction and is also the cause of climate change. Global warming is accelerating the biodiversity crisis. These threats are intertwined.

“Species extinction and ecosystem degradation are as big a threat as climate change. We depend on the functions of the natural world to pollinate our crops and purify the air we breathe. Biodiversity is our foundation. If we ignore the damage that foundation will collapse."

In 2018, the Indigenous Circle of Experts issued a report and recommendations: “We Rise together, Achieving Pathway to Canada Target 1 through the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) in the spirit and practice of reconciliation.”  Across the country, Indigenous nations are advancing conservation initiatives and Indigenous leaders are embracing conservation on a grand scale to protect and rehabilitate ecosystems.

“I am inspired by the work being done by Indigenous communities to set up and manage IPCAs across Canada,” said Green caucus critic for Crown-Indigenous relations and Indigenous services, Jenica Atwin (MP, Fredericton). “IPCAs are a critical piece of the preservation puzzle when it comes to biodiversity and maintaining the health of Canada’s ecosystems. Recognizing Indigenous land protectors is part of improving the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada, a relationship that is key to climate justice.”

In Nova Scotia last month, Supreme Court Justice Christa Brothers stated that the province has failed to live up to its obligations to protect species at risk and ordered the minister of lands and forestry to fulfil those duties. 

“I welcome Justice Brothers’s recent ruling,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Nature won and now we need to insist on action. It was appropriate of Justice Brothers to quote the Lorax by Dr. Seuss ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ Wise words as we encourage all orders of  government to implement robust environmental protections and vigorously ensure they are adhered to, so as to protect biodiversity from coast to coast to coast.” 

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Rosie Emery

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