Interview with Julianne Bossé – Climate Change Advisor, Department of International Organizations and Global Issues, Ministry of International Relations and Francophonie – Quebec
nrg4SD: When the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted, Québec already had an interesting sustainable development policy with a view to 2020. How was that policy related to the current Sustainable Development Goals? And from the medium-term review of this policy, is there an intention to make a more systematic incorporation of the SDGs into the existing policy?
Québec: During the elaboration of the 2015-2020 Government Sustainable Development Strategy (GSDS), the Government of Québec was following international negotiations on what would become the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDGs). The various themes raised then inspired the design of the GSDS, but since the GSDS was mainly drafted in 2014, it was too early to draw conclusions on the more practical aspects of their implementation. However, it is possible to link each focus and goal of the GSDS to one or more SDGs, thereby contributing to the achievement of these targets.
The Government of Quebec will table its third government strategy for sustainable development in 2020 or 2021. The SDGs will then necessarily be an integral part of the future strategy. The mid-term report on the GSDS, scheduled for late 2018, will provide the material to begin this process. Furthermore, in an effort to move towards a more sustainable society, departments and agencies subject to the Sustainable Development Act will be encouraged to revise their sustainable development action plans to improve and adapt their actions in accordance to the emerging issues that directly affect them.
nrg4SD: Last May it was the 25th anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Québec, home of the CBD Secretariat. Could you briefly tell us, what actions are being taken by the Government of Québec to protect biodiversity and how do they collaborate in the fulfilment of the Aichi Targets?
Québec: Québec has long been committed to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which it was formally implemented in 1992. To achieve this, we have chosen to anchor the goal of biodiversity protection in Québec’s major sustainable development policies:
- In responding to the Aichi Targets, Québec adopted the Government Biological Diversity Guidelines in 2013, which have been strengthened by the Government Sustainable Development Strategy 2015–2020.
- Also of note is the 2013–2020 Climate Change Action Plan, whose priorities have notably made it possible to update the tools used to evaluate, protect and manage biodiversity and ecosystems. Through this Action Plan, the Government of Québec was able, for example, to invest 3.3 million dollars in the implementation of a biodiversity monitoring network that makes it possible to detect and measure the effects of climate change on Québec’s biodiversity and ecosystems.
- The Plan Nord, a project of considerable magnitude, whose goal is the sustainable economic development and conservation of Northern Québec, aims at protecting 20% of this territory, which will enable Québec to reach by 2020 the goal of 17% of land and internal water protected areas set by Aichi Target 17.
- Québec is also committed to reaching the international protection target of 10% of its marine environment by 2020. This commitment was reconfirmed in the 2015–2020 Action Plan of Québec’s Maritime Strategy. To this end, Québec works with the Government of Canada, with which it has signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2018 for facilitating the designation of protected marine areas within its territory and achieving the Aichi Target.
- In June 2017, Québec strengthened its conservation measures covering bodies of water with the Act Respecting the Conservation of Wetlands and Bodies of Water, which aims at nothing less than zero net loss in these sensitive environments.
- In March 2018, Québec modernized its pesticide oversight regime, which promises important gains in protecting public health, the environment and all pollinators, including bees.
- Since June 2018, Québec has a new Water Strategy 2018-2030 which provides an inclusive vision for 2030, as well as broad guidelines for achieving integrated, sustainable, equitable water resources management and protecting or restoring aquatic ecosystems.
These are but a few examples of concrete initiatives on which Québec counts in pursuing its biodiversity conservation efforts and reaching the Aichi Targets by 2020.
nrg4sd: One of our nrg4SD’s flagship projects is the Visiting Experts Program, which aims to create and strengthen collaboration between southern and northern members for the development of skills and mutual learning. As part of this program, Québec received a government representative from Gossas (Senegal). How does Québec assess this experience and what has your region learnt from this collaboration?
Québec: The Government of Quebec has been pleased to participate in the Visiting Experts Program and to have welcomed Mamadou Touré to Quebec City from January 15th to February 9th. The welcoming of Mr. Touré was an interesting opportunity to share Quebec’s expertise in the area of climate change and consolidate the relations that Quebec has with the department of Gossas.
During his trip, Mr. Touré built rapport with Quebec companies, institutions and organizations in the fields of clean technologies, renewable energies, sustainable forest management, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change. This was not only an interesting opportunity to interact with Québec’s experts in the field, but also, and particularly, to explore partnership opportunities for the implementation of a project aimed at improving the department of Gossa’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The various stakeholders were all very satisfied with the meetings and the relevance of the information exchanges. The Government of Québec has indeed benefited from these exchanges. Mr. Touré’s knowledge of climate change efforts in the West African context has contributed to deepening the knowledge and to strengthen Québec’s practices in the field of international climate cooperation. The Visiting Experts Program has certainly fostered partnerships and networking between the various actors from Quebec and Senegal involved, in order to encourage innovation, the development of new technologies and to improve existing practices.
nrg4SD: The SBSTTA 22, was celebrated in July this year in Montreal, in which a debate on possible scenarios for biodiversity in 2050 and integration between the Aichi Targets and the SDGs took place. What actions is Québec developing for the integration of these agendas?
Québec: The Government of Quebec’s Guidelines for Biodiversity, adopted in 2013, are structured around three issues that each reflect the dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, economic and social). They aim to ensure that biodiversity is taken into account when planning and implementing government actions. In addition, the 2015-2020 Government Sustainable Development Strategy specifically provides for the development or modification of measures to contribute to the implementation of the Guidelines for Biodiversity. Each ministry and governmental body concerned is responsible, according to its expertise, for the actions it intends to take in order to implement the Guideline. The ministries need to have targets and indicators and appropriate accountability. For example, they can report on their consideration of the Guidelines in their strategic planning, sustainable development action plans and annual management reports. To this end, a pictogram has been developed by Quebec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the fight against Climate Change (MDDELCC) to facilitate the identification of the concerned measures. Note that in the 2016-2020 Sustainable Development Action Plan of the MDDELCC, one action provides for the preparation of a report on the inclusion of Guideline by ministries on the basis of the reporting that will be made in their respective Action Plans for Sustainable Development.
nrg4SD: This year the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) will take place in December in Katowice, Poland. Québec is a member of RegionsAdapt and has contributed to reporting their efforts in adaptation in the RegionsAdapt 2017 Report. What new milestones have been achieved so far this year? How is Québec prepared to contribute to the discussions during the COP24?
Québec: The Government of Québec is continuing its efforts to adapt to climate change. It continues to undertake the commitments and actions needed to strengthen the resilience of Québec society to climate change in order to reduce their negative impacts and take advantage of the opportunities that come with them.
- Over the past year, the Québec government has adopted a new water management strategy (Stratégie québécoise de l’eau 2018-2030). The strategy is based on three successive action plans that will define the specific measures to be implemented for sustainable spatial planning, adaptation to climate change, innovation and risk management, through better water management.
- A new hydroclimatic atlas (atlas hydroclimatique) was launched which presents a synthesis of the impact of climate change on the Southern Québec future water regime, in order to support the actors in the field of water in the implementation of measures for adapting to climate change.
- The government continued to strengthen its work with municipalities by launching a program to support Québec municipal organizations (Municipal Climate Program – Phase 2) in the development of innovative projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec and increase the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change.
- In addition, Québec launched a new program to improve rainwater drainage in municipal settings using sustainable management practices (Programme de soutien aux municipalités dans la mise en place d’infrastructures de gestion durable des eaux de pluie à la source. It supports local municipalities in order to promote the implementation of sustainable source rainwater management infrastructures to reduce the volume, flow rate or pollutant load in runoff water; and to support the dissemination of best practices.
- The Atlas of Québec population vulnerability to climate hazards was also officially launched. In partnership with Ouranos and the National Institute of Public Health of Québec, the overall goal of this project is to offer an interactive online atlas mapping the vulnerability of the population to heat waves and floods for southern Québec municipal organizations professionals.
At the international level, the Government of Québec is continuing its solidarity commitment to combat climate change in the most vulnerable countries. Nine new climate cooperation projects were supported at the end of the second call for projects of the Programme de coopération climatique internationale. Led by Québec organizations from the private sector, international cooperation and research institutes, together with partners from Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Senegal, Morocco, Ivory Coast and Benin, the nine projects will contribute to the adaptation of these countries to the impacts of climate change and support their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through technology transfer and capacity building. The selected projects will be carried out in the sectors of renewable energies, energy efficiency, agriculture, forestry, waste management, research and adaptation.
Finally, the Government of Québec will be present at COP24, to share, among other things, these new initiatives, which promote synergies between the research community and local partners, including municipalities and businesses, and which will help advance adaptation in Quebec over the next few years.