Recent News

Bill C-73 sparks hope for nature and biodiversity protection

By Jenna Brunt

On June 13, 2024, the federal environment Minister introduced Bill C-73, the Nature Accountability Bill.  Bill C-73 not only sparks hope for nature’s protection, but changes the course of environmental law, being the first ever proposed law in Canada aimed at safeguarding biodiversity. 

Bill C-73 compels Canada to recognize its commitment to protect nature and biodiversity in alignment with its international commitments under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (as agreed to at COP15) and requires the establishment of a national biodiversity strategy and action plan. Among the targets set out in the Biodiversity Framework are to:

  • protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030 (Target 3)
  • require conservation decision-making that fully and equitably respects the cultures and rights over lands, territories, resources and traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples (Target 22)

This bill has been called a ‘game-changer’ for environmental law and offers a critical opportunity to hold Canada accountable for fulfilling its nature and biodiversity commitments.  It also serves as a starting point to advocate for the inclusion of Indigenous legal traditions, given the long-overdue need to recognize Indigenous laws relied upon by First Nation communities who have declared protected areas over their lands and waters. 

It is widely recognized that Canada’s nature and biodiversity are in crisis, with a million species at risk of extinction over the next few years, according to scientists. While the introduction of this bill marks a significant step forward in protecting and restoring Canada’s natural environment, without proper implementation and enforceability, nature and biodiversity will remain in a dangerous decline. Much work remains to ensure the targets set out in the Global Biodiversity Framework are upheld. This includes:

  1. Requiring ecosystem-based targets to ensure all ecosystems are both represented and protected on a sufficient scale to ensure their ecological integrity; 
  2. Directly citing Canada’s 30% by 2030 target and also establishing interim targets to ensure appropriate progress is made towards 2025 and 2030 biodiversity protection goals;
  3. Enabling the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas legal designations to advance the equitable inclusion of Indigenous peoples in conservation decision-making; 
  4. Improving accountability and transparency measures, including reviews by the Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development and Parliament regarding the sufficiency of Canada’s actions to implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework;
  5. Ensuring adequate resourcing, including conservation financing solutions that ensure economic development funding for First Nations engaged in protecting lands and waters.

We need your support! This is the first opportunity we have to galvanize the urgent and transformative action required to address the biodiversity crisis, and ensure comprehensive legal measures are in place to effectively halt and reverse biodiversity loss in Canada. Achieving this goal will require leadership and a vocal public, acting in concert to influence outcomes, so that we can change course and successfully reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050.

Please share this article with your friends and family and encourage them to sign up for updates, including action alerts. Your ongoing support will help establish a Nature Accountability Act that effectively protects the full diversity of native ecosystems across Canada. Let’s keep the momentum going!

This article was also published in Law360 on June 19, 2024.
Photo of a river on Vancouver Island, BC (credit to: Jenna Brunt)

Scroll to Top