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Canadian Biodiversity Strategy

Executive Summary

Biodiversity supports human societies ecologically, economically, culturally and spiritually. Despite the importance of biodiversity, however, ecosystems are being degraded and species and genetic diversity are being reduced at an alarming rate due to the impact of a growing human population and its efforts to satisfy its needs and desires. The global decline of biodiversity is now recognized as one of the most serious environmental issues facing humanity.

Recognition of the world-wide impact of the decline of biodiversity inspired the global community to negotiate the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Canadian delegation participated actively in the negotiations of the Convention, the Prime Minister signed it at the Earth Summit in June 1992 and, in December 1992, Canada became the first industrialized country to ratify it.

The three objectives of the Biodiversity Convention are:

  • the conservation of biodiversity;
  • the sustainable use of biological resources; and
  • the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits that result from the use of genetic resources.

These objectives illustrate the nature and breadth of the Convention. It is a global instrument which sets the stage for each nation to assess the adequacy of current efforts to conserve biodiversity and sustainably use biological resources and to determine how any gaps will be filled and opportunities realized.


A society that lives and develops as a part of nature, valuing all life, taking no more than nature can replenish and leaving to future generations a nurturing and dynamic world, rich in its diversity of life.


One of the key obligations for parties that have ratified the Convention is to prepare a national strategy. The Canadian Biodiversity Strategy is a response to this obligation and has been developed as a guide to the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in Canada. All of the strategic directions contained in the Strategy are relevant from a national perspective, but some elements of the Strategy may not be relevant in some jurisdictions. Federal, provincial and territorial governments, in cooperation with members of the public and stakeholders, will pursue the strategic directions set out in the Strategy, according to their policies, plans, priorities and fiscal capabilities.

Elements of the Strategy

The Strategy presents a Vision for Canada:

A society that lives and develops as a part of nature, valuing all life, taking no more than nature can replenish and leaving to future generations a nurturing and dynamic world, rich in its diversity of life.

In support of the Vision, the Strategy also presents a series of Guiding Principles that provide a foundation for implementing the strategic directions of the Strategy.

The Strategy provides a framework for action at all levels that will enhance our ability to ensure the productivity, diversity and integrity of our natural systems and, as a result, our ability as a nation to develop sustainably. It promotes the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of our biological resources, and describes how we will contribute to, and be involved with, international efforts to implement the Convention.

The Strategy has five goals, which are:

  • To conserve biodiversity and sustainably use biological resources;
  • To enhance both our understanding of ecosystems and our resource management capability;
  • To promote an understanding of the need to conserve biodiversity and sustainably use biological resources;
  • To provide incentives and legislation that support the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources; and
  • To work with other countries to conserve biodiversity, use biological resources sustainably and share equitably the benefits that arise from the utilization of genetic resources.

The Strategy recognizes that the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources and fundamental to Canada's indigenous communities. It describes mechanisms through which these communities will be able to develop their own understanding of, and response to, the Convention.

Proposed mechanisms for implementing the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy include:

  • the filing of jurisdictional reports -- within one year of the Strategy's approval -- on policies, activities and plans aimed at implementing the Strategy;
  • coordinating the implementation of national and international elements of the Strategy;
  • ensuring that there are mechanisms in place to permit and encourage non-government participation in the implementation of the Strategy; and
  • reporting on the status of biodiversity.

Successful implementation of the Strategy will be determined, in large measure, by the degree to which all parts of society adopt its vision and principles and contribute to achieving its goals. Ultimately, the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of biological resources will require the support and participation of individual citizens, local and indigenous communities, urban and regional governments, conservation groups, business and industry, and educational and research institutions.