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 Multi Year Program Partnerships

Supporting a Proactive Coalition for Policy Advocacy around Climate Change Issues

Within this priority, the Foundation has agreed to provide an additional five years of support to Ecojustice and the “Recognizing our Right to a Healthy Environment” initiative as it is a critical piece of the climate justice/climate change policy solutions framework.

ECOJUSTICE: Recognizing our Right to a Healthy Environment
A Dynamic Strategy for Policy Change

In 2011 the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and Ecojustice embarked on a radical goal; to see environmental rights recognized as part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When our highest law recognizes that environmental rights are human rights, it will force existing laws, regulations and policies at all levels of government to meet that standard. It may also compel the creation of new laws. Impacted individuals and communities will have a clear path to hold polluters and governments accountable for environmental harms and protect their health.

Five years ago, Ecojustice helped their clients Ada Lockridge and Ron Plain of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation (located in Sarnia’s chemical valley) launch a lawsuit against the Ontario government and Suncor Energy. A recent settlement has resulted in the province’s commitment to control pollution in toxic hot spots (like Sarnia) and to share information with the public. This is a crucial turn of events and the kind of action expected as a result of the case. Environmental rights are gaining traction with a federal Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) being re-introduced, Ontario moving forward with a review of its EBR and more than 130 municipalities across Canada signing a declaration in support of the right to a healthy environment. Now, Canadians are talking about the need for constitutional recognition in courtrooms, legislatures and town halls. But we are not done yet.

Canadians’ right to a healthy environment will be recognized in the Charter. International momentum keeps building, and citizens across Canada want this change. Realizing a vision of a supreme law that reflects our values, compels action on environmental protection and secures our natural heritage for future generations is why the Catherine Donnelly Foundation is proud to continue supporting Ecojustice’s vital work – Recognizing our Right to a Healthy Environment.

For more information on the “Right to a Healthy Environment” program visit

In addition to our partnership with Ecojustice, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation is committed to investing in a proactive coalition for policy advocacy around climate change. As a result, in 2016-2017 the Foundation will research, convene dialogues and engage with potential allies, actors and funders to build and support strategic alliances for strong climate policy and action in order to create a clear engagement map.

Participation in this funding priority is by invitation only.

Woman in gas mask photo Parliament buildings photo earth photo

Supporting First Nations/Métis /Indigenous-led Initiatives

As a result, we have been engaged in a process over the past couple of years of actively seeking out partnerships with actors/allies/funders currently engaged with/within Indigenous communities.

We have convened three meetings (in November 2017, April 2018, September 2018) with Indigenous leaders, allies and funders to explore and understand the best role that funders could play in addressing capacity needs faced by Indigenous communities that fit within the climate change/climate justice framework. We were also interested in learning how we could support the advance of Indigenous communities and the incorporation of clean energy projects as a climate justice and economic/social development solution.

What has emerged is the understanding that to truly address community capacity needs the project should:

The Foundation acknowledges that in order to move from a conceptual idea, Indigenous peoples will need to take the lead in design and implementation and have full and effective participation in all aspects of the decision-making process.

Participation in this funding priority is by invitation only.

Indigenous protest photo

Past Grantees: Environment Program Partners

Redefining Canadian Policy on Health, Toxins, and Environment
$1,030,000 over 5 years (2011 - 2016)

In 2011 Environmental Defence Canada and the Catherine Donnelly Foundation entered a five year partnership to Redefine Canadian Policy on Health, Toxins and the Environment. This work has resulted in an unprecedented success in reducing the use of toxics in Canada, including government and industry action remove harmful ingredients from consumer products, and more informed consumers equipped with the knowledge to choose safe options when they shop.

Sustainability Transition Lab
$200,000 in 2012

This initiative helped The Natural Step develop and pilot their Sustainability Transition Lab - a bold new strategic approach based on shared value creation in a multi-stakeholder context. Some of the key development outcomes included: developing staff capacity, researching prototype projects for the Lab, leveraging funding, and building new strategic partnerships. In designing and piloting the Sustainability Transition Lab, they hosted two sectoral events to test readiness and gather recommendations, as well as publish a thought-leadership paper on lessons learned.

Return to Environmental Enhancement Initiatives Main Page

deodorant photo Natural Step lab photo


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The Catherine Donnelly Foundation's work extends to regions across Canada, and we acknowledge the treaty rights and the unceded Aboriginal rights and title of Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island.