SustainabilityX®’s #JustGovernance Spotlight Series
As part of SustainabilityX®’s new #JustGovernance Spotlight Series, we’re interviewing trailblazing political leaders in their quest for both environmental justice and social justice through sustainable policy. This campaign is in line with our fourth pillar of sustainability upon which SustainabilityX® is based: just governance, which is characterized by multiple elements such as human rights, peace, the rule of law, justice, participation, equality, transparency, and accountability in the context of sustainable development. In other words, just governance can be defined as policy frameworks, structures, and processes for decision-making combined with effective oversight, leadership, and regulation that leads to robust systems that deliver justice for all sections of society and the equal preservation of socio-economic rights of all people, which would also be in tandem with the protection of the planet's natural resources.
When we talk about developing structures and systems that promote equality, that also means embracing diversity and inclusion along the way - and that includes the aspect of gender. According to UN Women, women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. However, data shows that women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making worldwide, particularly to develop policy that responds to climate change. In terms of sustainable development and the SDGs, this challenge can be illustrated by the combination including, but not limited to, the following SDGs, their targets, and respective indicators:
SDG#5: Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Target 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life
Target 5.c: Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels
SDG#13: Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning
Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning
SDG#16: Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels
Target 16.3: Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
Target 16.6: Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels
Target 16.7: Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels
Target 16.b: Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development
For International Women's Day and Women's History Month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dianne Saxe, Ph.D. in Law, GCB.D, an internationally recognized Canadian lawyer rated among the top 25 environmental lawyers in the world, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Canada from 2015 to 2019, current Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario serving with Abhijeet Manay, and now a Green Party of Ontario candidate running for the 2022 election in the downtown Toronto riding of University-Rosedale, with a vote taking place on June 2.
As one of the world’s leading environmental lawyers that has been recognized provincially and globally for her work, Dianne currently practices law through her firm, SaxeFaxts, focusing on the climate crisis, and serves as the Chair of Toronto City Council’s climate advisory committee. As the Province of Ontario's environmental watchdog, Dr. Saxe was the guardian of the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights, delivering 17 reports on the environment, energy, and climate. The Ford government passed special legislation to abolish her position after she criticized its destructive climate policies. As a practicing lawyer, she represented community groups protesting acid mine drainage and logging of old-growth forests, obtaining $115 million for municipalities in a bitterly contested arbitration over the Blue Box program.
Here’s what she had to say: