Canada is Sorry. Canada apologizes for not living up to its land conservation promises

Canada is doing what it does best—apologizing—in an awareness campaign for the non-profit collaborative Outside Thinkers that acknowledges the country’s continued failure to honour its global commitment to critical environmental protection. 

The ads take the form of an apology from the fictitious Gord Burton, the self-appointed Deputy of the Canadian Bureau of Foreign Apologies. They acknowledge Canada’s failure to uphold its promise to permanently protect 17% of its land by 2020 as part of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Approximately 10.6% of Canada’s land was already protected when it became one of 195 countries around the world to make the commitment to the Aichi Targets in 2010, but that number has risen to barely 11% in the nine years since then. Canada ranks a lowly 124th among countries that signed the initial agreement, and is last among the G7 nations.

Outside Thinkers wanted to call out Canada’s foot-dragging on this key issue and urge Canadians to push for further action. The campaign is led by a 90-second video showing Burton seated at his desk, outlining the original promise and pointing to some of the more than 100 countries that have exceeded Canada’s achievements.

“I want to personally apologize to every country in the world because we are letting them down,” he says, before urging Canadians to take action quickly because he’s already booked what will likely be an expensive Uber trip to Equatorial Guinea.

The campaign also features a series of videos apologizing to countries that have done a better job than Canada of preserving their biodiversity, such as Andorra, Brazil, Chad and Hungary. In addition, a series of influencer videos direct apologies to notable environmental advocates, such as noted Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

The second phase arrives just days after the annual G7 Summit in France, which included climate change as one of its key areas of focus. It also follows the Canadian government’s pledge of $175 million towards 67 conservation initiatives in every province and territory, as part of Canada’s Nature Legacy initiative.

Outside Thinkers is encouraging people to spread the messages via social media and visit the website for the Canadian Bureau of Foreign Apologies ( to send a letter to their local provincial politicians.

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