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Global Affairs Canada’s efforts to promote sustainable development abroad

The UN Sustainable Development Goals logo, including the colour wheel on a light grey background.

Good news: We’re finally getting close to achieving sustainable nuclear fusion! Bad news: It’s 2023 and significant issues, including climate change, poverty and inequality, still exist.

So, what does this mean for us at Global Affairs Canada (GAC)? It means we need to find the opportunities in the global challenges we are facing! Through our work, we are contributing to achieving the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In this article, you will learn about some of GAC’s efforts and how they are helping advance the SDGs so that no one is left behind.

Canada and the SDGs

In 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was appointed as one of the co-chairs of the UN Secretary General’s SDG Advocates group, which is made up of leaders from around the world. Dedicated teams throughout the government, have been raising awareness and engagement to advance the SDGs. Global Affairs Canada has been playing a key role in supporting the implementation and achievement of the SDGs both domestically and internationally. This includes funding and implementing programs and initiatives that align with the goals as well as collaborating with other countries, organizations and stakeholders to achieve them. Additionally, GAC provides policy and strategic advice to the Government of Canada on how to integrate the SDGs into Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance efforts.

What we are working on

Here are some initiatives that are part of GAC’s road map to a better world:

Sustainable Development Goal #14 (Life below water) icon with pictogram of fish underwater on blue background.
  1. Global Affairs Canada’s Environment team is on a quest to save the oceans from plastic pollution by increasing recycling and reducing the use of single-use plastics. This is done through initiatives such as the Ocean Plastics Charter, which aims to reduce marine plastic pollution, and the Global Plastic Pollution Partnership, which focuses on research, awareness-raising and capacity building to address plastic pollution in countries such as Vietnam and Brazil. Other activities include funding organizations to clean up plastic waste near water as well as supporting research on the impacts of marine debris and plastic pollution on marine ecosystems.
Sustainable Development Goal #5 (Gender equality) icon with men and women pictogram that also includes an equal sign in the middle, on a red background.
  1. In 2017, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy was developed by the Government of Canada to guide its international development and humanitarian assistance efforts. The policy is centered around the idea that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is a key driver of sustainable development and a necessary condition for achieving the United Nations’ SDGs. For instance, as of March 2022, GAC’s No Woman or Girl Left Behind project had helped 2,464 girls in Malawi and 3,011 girls in Sierra Leone, ages 10-19, receive family planning support and services.
Icon for Sustainable Development Goal 17 (partnerships for the goals) with a pictogram of 5 overlapping circles.
  1. Global Affairs Canada is also working on promoting an inclusive approach to trade to ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are more equitably shared with under-represented groups. For instance,  funding opportunities were recently offered to promote economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. This inclusive approach will help empower women, youth, people with disabilities and other vulnerable and marginalized groups through reduced trade-related gender discrimination and gender-based barriers.

To 2030 and beyond!

GAC will continue to advance efforts to achieve the SDGs in the upcoming years. However, this article has been just a glimpse into our activities! Want to learn more? Hear some of our employees abroad talk about their involvement in our latest GAC Files podcast series.

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