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The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health emergency — it has also led to massive economic disruption, exposing striking inequities in our society. This means that a strong recovery will require much more than a vaccine: it will demand measures that restore health to our society, our economy, and our planet.

The federal government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild better as it tries to drive an economic recovery with billions of dollars of new spending. However, the first step in planning for this recovery should be to acknowledge that not all was well before COVID-19 hit. We must get serious about responding to the combined climate and biodiversity crisis that was already hitting us hard before the virus struck.

A Green and Just Recovery

Adopting the principles of a Green and Just Recovery will help build the foundation for a healthier relationship with our planet and a much healthier future for all of us. This should include enhanced efforts to shift to renewable energy, protect nature’s capacity for resilience, and strengthen social safety nets for those most vulnerable.

The call for a Green and Just Recovery resonates with Canadians in every province. Many Canadians say they want to see a federal recovery plan built around a cleaner, smarter future. And many have expressed deep concern about environmental challenges that are already here: massive storms and wildfires, disappearing nature and wildlife, and extreme heat. These problems could, in short order, pose just as much of a threat as a novel virus. Canadians are also increasingly concerned about how we’re collectively drowning in plastic and other waste and increasingly inundated with toxic chemicals.

Working together for positive change

That’s why we created the One Earth One Voice initiative — to help Canadians call for the change we need. One Earth One Voice is calling for federal action that sets us on the path to:

  • A just transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy
  • The protection and restoration of land, freshwater, and ocean ecosystems, along with the wildlife that call these places home
  • The growth of a circular economy and an end to single-use plastics
  • The replacement of toxic chemicals used in agriculture, consumer goods, and manufacturing with safer alternatives
  • The development of accessible, affordable, and healthy communities and transportation networks
  • A future that prioritizes social and racial justice, economic equity, and well-being, built in partnership with Indigenous peoples and the communities most exposed to environmental harm

Many of the organizations involved in One Earth One Voice have outlined concrete steps that can be taken right now to achieve these goals — steps that will not only help our environment, but that will also generate new jobs and business opportunities.

But we need to get moving. Already, the EU has made plans to use billions of dollars of recovery spending to drive action on climate change and other environmental challenges — what the EU Commissioner has called “our man on the moon moment.” Canada needs a similar mission focus to ensure we don’t miss out on the multiple economic and social benefits of building a recovery that’s good for us — and the planet.

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