Canada and the Green Transition: Perspectives on the Way Forward

Chapter 4: Environmental Activism and Strategies for the Green Transition

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Key Messages




  • There are a wide range of perspectives within the environmental movement in Canada regarding the roots of environmental decline, the necessity of a Green Transition and how deeply our economic, social and political systems need to change
  • Mainstream perspectives held by well established, national eNGOs, that are more closely connected to government through politics and funding, are however less likely to push for transformational change to decision-making processes and policies
  • Newer and more ambitious perspectives challenging the status are emerging through youth and Indigenous activism, but these have ignited push-back from powerful pro-fossil fuel and ideological forces in Canada




  • The kind of governance approaches that best facilitate and accelerate a sustainability transition in Canada must be collaborative, including all types of activists
  • There are significant concerns about the ability of eNGOs to push for transformational Green Transition changes given the reliance on government funding for many of them; the eNGOs examined in this chapter receive on average 20% of their budgets from governments
  • Youth activists and resistance activists, though they are perhaps more committed to the Green Transition, face significant challenges: (1) they may not be able to coordinate a larger movement capable to pressing governments and (2) they may lack capacity and resources




  • ENGOs were successful at policy creation during the first three waves of environmentalism, but policy implementation is an ongoing struggle 
  • The extent to which newer forms of activism will create policy and enable implementation of policy is uncertain




  • Established eNGOs yield significant resources and capacity, but need to distance themselves from government funding if they are to effectively push for meaningful change 
  • Emerging activists need to be strategic and coordinated but careful in collaboration with mainstream eNGOS that are captured by government funding 
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