Canadian organizations  

International Organizations

In addition to taking action within its own borders, Canada is also involved in international organizations and agreements to preserve diversity throughout the world.

The following list, arranged in chronological order, contains just a few of the more important ones, and more can be found in the timeline.

International Organizations and Agreements

1909 Boundary Waters Treaty [link]
Created the International Joint Commission [link], which was established to prevent or resolve disputes and assist Canadian and American governments to share common water supplies, most importantly the Great Lakes, in an equitable and responsible way. The Commission's primary responsibilities are the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty [link], the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement [link], and the Air Quality Agreement [link].

1916 Migratory Birds Protection Convention
Because migratory bird habitat spans more than one country, international co-operation is required to protect them. This treaty was negotiated between Canada and the United States to halt the extinction of migratory birds and to establish regulations for their cross-boundary protection. However, the original Migratory Bird Law only acted to protect birds which where deemed important or useful for humans, such as songbirds and insect-eating birds. Birds considered pests, such as hawks, owls, and crows, where not protected by the act.

1971 Ramsar Convention [link]
RamsarOfficially called The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, this convention was originally focused on wetlands conservation to save waterfowl, but has now expanded its scope to include conservation of wetlands. The RAMSAR convention, which now involves 121 countries, takes steps to preserve wetlands of international importance and to find ways to use this resource wisely and sustainably

1971 UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Program [link]
MABThe Seville convention establishes the framework for a global network of nature preserves, with a key difference when compared to most nature preserves. These reserves are intended to explore new ways of integrating conservation, development, and scientific research, to help humans live in harmony with nature. MAB reserves include an area of strict environmental protection, a "buffer" zone which synthesizes conservation and human use, and a transition zone which allows for human use which does not have a detrimental effect on the protected area. Canada has six MAB reserves and another has been proposed.

1972 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage [link]
Natural HeritageThe UNESCO World Heritage Convention established a network of protected sites of natural significance (World Heritage Sites); sites which posses "outstanding physical, biological, and geological features; habitats of threatened plants or animal species and areas of value on scientific or aesthetic grounds or from the point of view of conservation." As of May 2000 160 countries have signed the convention, and there are 630 sites worldwide. The convention also prepared a list of World Heritage Sites in danger and provided for the establishment and protection of these sites. Canada currently contains 12 World Heritage Sites.

1972 UN Conference of the Human Environment [link]
An earlier version of the 1992 Rio Conference (see below), this conference declared that humans are part of the environment as well as affecting it and being affected by it. It resulted in an action plan that focused on environmental assessment and environmental management.

1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement [link]
Amended in 1978 and 1987, this agreement between Canada and the United States originally dealt with attempts to reduce eutrophication (specifically, phosphorus loading) of the Great Lakes. Since then, it has expanded to include toxic substances as well.

1973 Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) [link]
CITESThis 152-country convention bans commercial international trade of endangered species and their derivatives, and monitors trading of species which might become endangered.

1980 World Conservation Strategy
This forerunner to the International Convention on Biological Diversity was developed with the goal of stimulating countries to implement national conservation strategies.

1982 World Charter for Nature (UN) [link]
This resolution called for nations to recognize the vital role that nature plays in making our society possible and called on nations to preserve and promote conservation.

1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [link]
This convention dealt with issues of sustainable fishery catches and conservation of both aquatic species and habitats.

1986 North American Waterfowl Management Plan [link]
Waterfowl Management Plan(US and Canada, Mexico joins in 1994) Distresed by the declining numbers of waterfowl (which includes geese and ducks), Canada and the United States created this plan, which aims to protect the wetlands and upland territories that waterfowl need. The eventual goal is to return waterfowl populations to their level in the 1970s.

1988 Diversity United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
The second Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity met in November 1988 to explore the need for an international convention on biological diversity. This group, convened by the UNEP Governing council, was charged with the responsibility of assessing whether a convention on biological diversity was needed and what form such a convention might take. The group found that, although biodiversity issues were addressed individually in other UN conventions, the piecemeal nature of this method did not adequately address global concerns about biodiversity. Their advice was heeded, and resulted in the convening of the 1992 "Earth Summit" (see below).

1989 UNEP's Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts
This group met to prepare an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The experts were to take into account "the need to share costs and benefits between developed and developing countries" as well as "ways and means to support innovation by local people".

1991 Announcements for the Program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) [link]
CAFFThe Program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) was established to address the needs of arctic species. A large circumpolar region is included in CAFF.

1992 Agenda 21 [link]
Agenda 21 is an agreement between more than 178 states and UN organizations outlining goals for environmental action and sustainable development in the twenty-first century. This farsighted agreement made suggestions on social and economic dimensions, natural resources, and strengthening the voice that traditionally marginalized groups have. Agenda 21 was signed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, see below).

1992 The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) [link]
Also know as the "Earth Summit" or "Rio Summit," this UN conference held in Brazil was the source of declarations including The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests, The Convention on Biological Diversity, and Agenda 21. The day that the convention came into force, December 29th, 1993, is now International Biodiversity Day.

1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (the Rio Conference, the Earth Summit) [link]
This convention, signed by many countries at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 (UNCED, see above), is a legally binding international agreement which commits its signatory countries to developing an action plan to preserve biodiversity and allows for international co-operation to achieve this goal. The major objectives of the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.Canada was the first industrialized country to ratify the convention.


Canadian organizationsLegislation