We have come together as members of unions, environmental and social justice organizations to form a common front of civil society groups for the building of a green economy in Canada. In so doing, we realize we are living in one of those critical moments of history wherein urgent decisions and actions must be taken that will ultimately affect our destiny as a people, a nation, and the planet itself.
Like most of the world, Canadians continue to experience the turbulence of an ongoing global economic crisis. It is increasingly evident that the current economic model is broken. Any economic recovery based on a simple return to the old status quo would risk being a feeble and jobless one. At the same time, this economic crisis both augments and is compounded by an environmental crisis, highlighted by the alarming advance of climate change and global warming that now threatens civilization and global ecosystems. In turn, this environmental crisis is further reinforced by an emerging energy crisis in which our societal addiction to fossil fuels is now threatened by diminishing conventional and cheap oil supplies. What’s more, our economy and society are seriously plagued by an equity crisis of increasing poverty marked by growing gender, race and class disparities.
We believe the time has come to chart a new model and direction for Canada’s economy. This country can no longer afford an economic model that treats the natural environment and human beings as disposable goods. Instead, Canadians need to rethink our manufacturing processes, the way we use and generate energy, and the ways we construct our buildings. We need to rethink the way we transport ourselves, move goods, use water, fuel industries, and heat our homes and businesses. In doing so, we also need to break our addiction to fossil fuels and overcome the poverty and inequalities that plague our society. In short, we need to build a green economy that transforms the mode of production and consumption in our society, makes existing jobs more environmentally sustainable, and simultaneously creates new decent paying, full time, safe and healthy green jobs in all sectors of society, to address the pressing economic and social inequalities of our time.
Although both the public and private sectors have key roles to play in building a green economy for the future, we maintain that governments and publicly-owned institutions must now take the lead, since they alone have the tools to marshal resources of the magnitude and speed necessary for this kind of economic transformation. Through public sector-led investments and infrastructure, sound regulation and targeted incentives, governments can stimulate the private sector to play a key role in greening the major industrial sectors of the economy - such as manufacturing, resource, transportation, and construction industries. Moreover, much of the impetus for creating green jobs is going to come from local and regional economies where people live and work in closer relationship with their environment.
As civil society organizations, we are committed to make every effort to inspire Canadians to join in building an economy aimed at providing good green jobs for all, so that current and future generations can meet their needs while living in harmony with each other and the ecosystems that support human life and prosperity. To advance this transition to a real green economy, we will vigorously advocate concrete proposals and organize campaign activities designed to meet the pressing environmental, energy and equity challenges of our times. In doing so, we will make use of all the educational tools at our disposal, not only to inform and animate our members and the public at large, but to cultivate a broad-based movement for a green economy in this country and in solidarity with like-minded movements around the world.
It is only by progressively developing, step-by-step, a new economic model in Canada - one which is clean and sustainable, just and participatory - that we have any hope of contributing to the building of a better world in the 21st century and protecting the biosphere for succeeding generations to come.