Green and just recovery

Together, we’re working towards a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that will put us on the path to a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all.

Let’s re-imagine our communities and build back better

After months of disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, many people feel they want to get back to “normal.” But “normal” means continued climate disruption and species extinction, growing inequalities, increased pollution and health risks and the possibility of further new disease outbreaks.

“Normal” wasn’t working for most people or the planet.

We can do better.

Together we can overcome these crises and reimagine our communities, economy and ourselves to create a sustainable, resilient, equitable future.

The funds that the government invests to spur economic recovery may be some of the largest of our lifetime — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build back better.

Together, we must reimagine our communities, the economy and our relationship with nature to co-create a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all.

Ian Bruce, Acting Executive Director

Urge Ottawa to support a just, green recovery

Call on government now to ensure that our COVID-19 recovery sets Canada on track to an equitable, sustainable future.

Sign the petition now

Three pillars of a green recovery

Bear near the water in nature

1. Protect and restore nature

Nature conservation should be central to Canada’s recovery from COVID-19. Canada’s ecosystems — forests, wetlands, grasslands, oceans, lakes and rivers — and the biodiversity they support provide people who live here with clean air, safe water, healthy food and opportunities for work and play. They are the basis of our economy and well-being. They are fundamental to the rights and title of Indigenous nations and have inherent value as an integral part of the world we inhabit.

As the country with the second largest territory, Canada harbours diverse ecosystems and can lead the world in nature-based climate solutions. We can support natural infrastructure, create and maintain wildlife habitats and areas of high ecological value, and reform industries that interact with nature.

Wind farm on mountains by the water

2. Act on climate

Putting our economic recovery investments to work to ensure a better future and stable climate for all people makes good sense. We have the opportunity now to create sustainable jobs, diversify our economy, reduce carbon pollution, improve resilience against future risks and shocks, and set Canada on track to thrive in a more affordable, safe, equitable, low-carbon future.

We can invest in:

  • Ensuring homes and buildings waste less energy and run on clean energy.
  • Reducing carbon pollution and congestion by bolstering transit, active transportation (like walking and cycling), electric vehicle use and adoption of smart growth planning principles to create more complete, livable communities.
  • Enabling more communities to generate renewable energy.
  • Supporting Indigenous priorities in housing, mitigation and adaptation efforts.
  • Training more workers for clean economy jobs.
  • Ending fossil fuel infrastructure expansion and subsidies.

The pandemic shows that if we act together for the collective good, we can flatten the curve of crises and improve resilience for all.

Like COVID-19, the climate crisis needs a mass collective effort.

Girl sitting in the forest with sunlight

3. Transform the economy

This pandemic crisis has shown that our current economic system isn’t working. An economy that measures success by GDP growth deepens inequality, pushes humanity toward ecological and social collapse and fails us in times of need.

We can achieve transformative, lasting change if we align our economic systems with putting people and the planet first by:

  • Adopting a guaranteed universal basic well-being support framework.
  • Localizing and circularizing the economy to a zero-waste model.
  • Formalizing a system of national well-being accounts.
  • Establishing a well-being-focused budgeting and governance framework.
  • Accelerating meaningful nation-to-nation reconciliation.
  • Ensuring equitable flows of assets and financial wealth to reduce inequality and enhance long-term well-being.

By transforming our economy, we can reverse the concerning trends in inequity, unhappiness, loneliness, injustice, environmental degradation, species loss and climate risk.

A green, just recovery movement is growing

As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must seize opportunities to rise up, come together and support those most affected. We must create resilient, green societies to help us persevere and better respond to crises. That’s why we’re working in coalition with many groups throughout Canada to maximize our impact when advocating for a sustainable and equitable future for all.

Our partnerships

Six principles for a just recovery

Along with hundreds of other organizations throughout Canada, we believe that as we rebuild from the pandemic, we have the opportunity to address the pre-existing crises of ecological degradation, climate change, colonialism, social inequity and human rights abuses by ensuring that all investments and initiatives for a COVID-19 recovery uphold the following principles for a just recovery for all:

  1. Put people’s health and well-being first. No exceptions
    Health is a human right and is interdependent with the health and well-being of ecological systems.
  2. Strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people
    Focus relief efforts on people – particularly those who are structurally oppressed by existing systems.
  3. Prioritize the needs of workers and communities
    Support must be distributed in a manner consistent with Indigenous sovereignty, a climate resilient economy and worker rights, including safe and fair labour standards and a right to unionize. Improved conditions for essential service workers must be maintained beyond this crisis.
  4. Build resilience to prevent future crises
    We cannot recover from the current crisis by entrenching systems that will cause the next crisis.
  5. Build solidarity and equity across communities, generations, and borders
    In a globalized world, what happens to one of us affects all of us.
  6. Uphold Indigenous Rights and work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples
    A just recovery must uphold Indigenous rights and include full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, in line with the standard of free, prior and informed consent.

Green Strings: Principles and conditions for a green recovery from COVID-19 in Canada

Clear guidelines for government investments are needed to ensure the COVID-19 recovery is a green one. “Green strings” are key principles, criteria and conditions that should be attached to all economic stimulus and recovery efforts. These were developed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and endorsed by Canada’s leading environmental groups (including the David Suzuki Foundation) that collectively represent close to two million people.

Read the Green Strings report

Green Budget Coalition recommendations

The Green Budget Coalition brings together 24 leading Canadian environmental organizations to present analyses of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada and to make a consolidated annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.

Many of the Green Budget Coalition’s Recommendations for Budget 2020-2021 can help maintain momentum toward a low-carbon economy and protecting biodiversity, and can be scaled up to employ tens of thousands of Canadians while charting a course to recovery that transforms the Canadian economy to be sustainable and resilient.

The Green Budget Coalition’s April 2020 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides input on how to align economic stimulus measures with core environmental objectives.


Nature conservation: a letter to the prime minister

Nature conservation must be central to Canada’s COVID-19 recovery. There are many benefits to restoring wildlife habitats and degraded ecosystems; protecting natural infrastructure; expanding protected territory; supporting Indigenous stewardship of lands, fresh water and oceans; and providing environmental-protection incentives to farmers. These measures can boost the economy, increase biodiversity, address climate change and improve citizen well-being.

Investments in improving the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture and forest management and rebuilding Canadian tourism can also help reboot the economy with positive biodiversity outcomes.

More than 230 organizations have united in an appeal to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by signing a letter urging the government to focus on nature-positive measures for Canada’s post-emergency period. The group includes large national organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation, Nature Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, as well as local naturalist clubs and floral societies, fly fishers and others throughout the country.

Read the letter to the prime minister

Science and Learning Centre