Remarks at the opening ceremony of COP15
Today, we are welcoming the world here to Montréal, here to Canada. Our country represents many things around the world. Every day we work hard to be an example of openness and diversity. We have athletes and artists who excel on the international stage; we have workers and scientists who allow us to innovate and advance. But above all, when people around the world think of Canada, they think of our landscapes and our abundance of nature.
Canada is the Atlantic and the St. Lawrence Valley.
Canada is the Rockies in the West with their magnificent snowcapped peaks, the Arctic in the north, vast and full of unexpected life, the ancient forests of British Columbia and the maple trees of Quebec, between which you find the living skies of the Prairies. Nature is a part of who we are, and we're here today at COP15 to make sure it remains part of who we will be for generations to come.
I don't have to tell any of you here this afternoon that nature is under threat; in fact, it's under attack. I've been speaking for just a few moments so far, but in these couple of moments, we've lost globally as much as 136 soccer fields worth of trees; and that's just one example. The job we're doing as a world just isn't good enough. It's as simple as that.
Canada stepped up, on just a few months’ notice, to have this nature COP held here in Montreal so that together we find solutions. The clock is ticking, and we knew this conference couldn't wait until some other time.
We are facing a biodiversity crisis. This is a crisis that is just as real and as dangerous as the climate crisis. It is a major issue that cannot be relegated to the sidelines, because we are all connected to nature. Our cities need clean water and our farms need bees. Marshes protect our communities against flooding, and tens of trillions of dollars of the global economy depend on nature. We must act, and we must act now.
For our part, Canada is making record progress on its commitment to protect 25% of our land and 25% of our waterways by 2025, and 30% by 2030. And 30% was not chosen at random. According to leading scientists, this is the critical threshold to avoid the risk of extinction and to ensure our economic and food security, among other things.
And 30% is perfectly feasible. In Canada, we have increased the amount of protected marine and coastal areas from less than 1% in 2015 to more than 14% today. At the same time, we have also protected several hundred thousand square kilometres of land, which, to give you an idea, is equivalent to the size of Italy. And when big countries like Canada take action, it really makes a difference.
As we make historic progress on our commitment to protect 30% of our land and waters by 2030 in Canada, we're also protecting iconic species, from the Western bumble bee to orcas, and we're doing all this work in partnership with Indigenous peoples. You see, in some ways, Canada is a young country at only 155, but of course we recognize and embrace that Indigenous peoples have lived on and cared for these lands since time immemorial. All of our work on protecting nature must be reflective of Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and in true partnership in order to advance our shared journey of reconciliation.
Progress, protection and partnership, that's what we're focused on delivering. And tomorrow I'll be talking about some of what's next for Canada, but we're gathered today because this isn't work we or any one country can do alone.
The world's five biggest countries, Russia, Canada and China – the two countries involved in hosting this meeting – the U.S. and Brazil, represent over 50% of the world's forests. Canada has the world's longest coastline, Russia has the world's largest boreal forest, and the world's largest wetland, the Pantanal, is primarily in Brazil. That's a big responsibility for big countries, and progress is being made, no doubt, but of the world's five biggest countries, none of us is yet at 30% of both our land and waters protected.
Now, we don't have to get all the way there by tomorrow, but by 2030, we all really do. By 2030 we must halt and reverse biodiversity loss.
And a key part of doing that is protecting 30% of the world's land and waters. Every leader must be telling their negotiators to bring this ambition to the table as we reach a final framework here over the next two weeks.
For our part…
For our part, today I can share that in our role as host location, Canada is committing another $350 million in international biodiversity finance.
This is $350 million in new money that will be invested in international funding for biodiversity, in addition to the more than $1 billion that we have already pledged to combat the effects of climate change on biodiversity loss. Minister Guilbeault will tell you more about this, but the point is that we continue to act globally.
My friends, we will all be working together during the summit, and we must achieve results. Our citizens are counting on us. Citizens like Jean-Marc, who wrote to me through Nature Canada. Jean-Marc lives a few hours from here in Gatineau. He told me that he is counting on us to be leaders in biodiversity, for example, to protect birds, because he cares about that.
I also got a letter from a young woman, Maria, on Canada's West Coast, who said that we need to act right now to protect our wilderness and ecosystems. Jean-Marc and Maria are right. Canada is welcoming you here because we expect action, we're challenging ourselves and we're challenging you.
Now, there are lots of disagreements between governments, but if we can't agree as a world on something as fundamental as protecting nature, well, nothing else matters.
Until we agree that we should stop species from going extinct, until we agree that our water should be clean and our air should be clean, until we agree that it matters that forests, grasslands, jungles endure, we cannot guarantee a future for our kids.
This is not the time to ask whether we should act, or whether we should be ambitious; this is the time to say how we are going to do it. We have a beautiful, extraordinary planet, and this is the time to focus on what we are going to do together to ensure its future.
Thank you very much, everyone.