The Government of Canada has released its national strategy 'Towards Canada’s 2030 Agenda', outlining the Government’s approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The strategy proposes 30 concrete federal actions to advance the SDGs in Canada, ranging from enhancing federal leadership and SDG policy coherence, building awareness of the Goals among Canadians, prioritizing reconciliation and the 2030 Agenda, and investing to open new financing streams for the SDGs. These actions are supported by a Canadian Indicator Framework, which identifies specific indicators and targets to track SDG achievement and progress in Canada. The strategy is also supported by $50 million in funding dedicated towards supporting SDG implementation throughout the country.
Canada ranks among the best in the world for progress on the SDGs (ranked 20th), and is on track to fully achieve two of the 17 SDGs (SDG 4 - Quality Education and SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy). Despite this relatively good performance, Canada requires major progress on a number of fronts, most notably SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13 - Climate Action. As in other high-income countries, high levels of CO2 emissions, pollution and waste, and threats to biodiversity represent major challenges for Canada to overcome. No country in the world is currently on track to achieve all of the SDGs by 2030.
Canada's SDG performance in 2019
Canada’s national strategy comes at a time when many Canadian organizations are already mobilizing around the SDGs. The British Columbia Council for International Cooperation recently released the 'Movement Map' detailing the more than 11,600 organizations across the country already working on various elements of the SDGs. The Community Foundations of Canada’s 'Alliance 2030' digital SDG story-telling platform boasts more than 1,500 members in just over one year. The Global Compact Network of Canada is building the capacity of the Canadian private sector to embrace sustainable business practices, counting over 100 of Canada’s largest corporations as network members. Canadians are already clearly demonstrating that they are ready to embrace the economic, social, and environmental transformations underpinning the SDGs and well on their way to answering the nationwide call to action issued by the Government of Canada in the new national strategy.
From the future of our energy sector, to ensuring clean drinking water in Indigenous communities, to housing shortages in our cities, Canada faces a number of big challenges that must immediately be addressed. The SDGs provide a framework to unite Canadian voices and ensure that the most vulnerable are not left behind. The SDGs act as a guiding light from which diverse groups can compare approaches, align efforts, and monitor outcomes towards a better Canada. The Government of Canada’s new national strategy is an important step in unifying the country around the SDGs and helping adapt these big ambitious global goals into a distinctly Canadian context.
Students gather at the University of Waterloo to talk about the SDGs on campus. Photo credit - Yoshi Matsuzaki