Global environmental sustainability depends on intact and healthy ecosystems. However, many of the Earth's ecosystems have been stressed or degraded, some to the point where they cannot recover.
The poor, who depend most directly on their natural environment for food, shelter, and income, are the first to feel the effects of environmental deterioration. Forced to live on marginal lands, the poor are at greatest risk from external factors such as climate change. Without financial resources or the knowledge to manage vulnerable resources in a sustainable way, they are often forced to degrade their lands in order to survive, thus contributing to the problem and perpetuating their poverty.
The global community has been collaborating to preserve the environment for more than 30 years, reaching agreements and achieving some progress in key areas such as carbon emissions, desertification, organic pollutants, and biodiversity. As a party to the related conventions, Canada is obligated to help its developing country partners implement them.
Increasing environmental sustainability is one of Canada's crosscutting themes for international development and a Millennium Development Goal.
Canada assesses all of its development assistance activities for potential risks and opportunities with respect to environmental sustainability and works with its partner countries to ensure that they have the capacity to do the same. This includes enhancing partners' abilities to manage natural resources and address issues like desertification and climate change.