The impact of environmental degradation and climate change threatens the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals. The poor in developing countries are especially vulnerable and the least able to adapt to the effects of environmental degradation. There have been only modest improvements and many setbacks in meeting the targets of this goal. Progress on this MDG is extremely varied in terms of both geographic region and individual targets. Global deforestation—mainly the conversion of tropical forests to agricultural land—is slowing, but it continues at a high rate in many countries.
The world met the MDG safe drinking water target five years ahead of schedule. But 783 million people still do not have access to safe drinking water—83 percent of them living in rural areas. In 2010, an estimated 2.6 billion individuals still lacked access to basic sanitation and 1.1 billion people had no sanitation facilities at all. Deforestation continues relatively unabated, and biodiversity continues to decline. Greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change continue to increase, and there is increased migration to urban areas, threatening the modest progress made in reducing the number of urban slums. Improvements to slums are not keeping up with the growing number of urban poor: the absolute number of urban residents living in slums increased from 767 million in 2000 to 863 million in 2010.
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 such as desertification and climate change. CIDA protects and enhances biodiversity through its food security programming by supporting sustainable seed banks and agricultural research.
Over the last five years, CIDA spending on environmental sustainability has totalled approximately $725 million, while annual spending for biodiversity has averaged $20 million during the same period. Between 2010 and 2014, Canada has committed $238.4 million to the Global Environment Facility, which marks a 50 percent increase over the previous contribution. CIDA is also working closely with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international partners to improve the integration of environmental considerations into development planning and decision making, especially through tools like strategic environmental assessments.
Stronger capacity to address global environmental challenges: In Haiti, with CIDA support, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is helping communes in the Nord-Est department to build resilience in the face of climate change. As of 2011, thanks to better management practices, communities are saving around 10 percent of their budget for maintaining and operating new equipment provided by the project. Watershed development, soil conservation and reforestation are all helping reduce soil erosion and vulnerability to flooding.
Improved community conservation and increased access to safe water and sanitation: CIDA is providing the African Development Bank with $36 million to strengthen water supply and sanitation in rural areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa. As of June 2011, the project had provided 33.54 million people with access to clean drinking water and 21.29 million with access to sanitation services. It has also built the capacity of local governments and communities in 19 countries to manage water services more effectively, including the establishment of some 39,000 water, sanitation and hygienic education committees.
Enhanced management of natural resources: In Ethiopia, CIDA supports a food-for-work program run by the World Food Programme that allows participating households to receive food rations in return for working on initiatives such as tree planting and building structures to reduce soil erosion and retain water. To date, CIDA has enabled more than 149,000 farmers to rehabilitate agricultural land. Overall, the project successfully supported natural resource management, increasing productivity in food-insecure communities, and building household and community resilience to unforeseen setbacks.