On Canada’s commitments to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

How is Canada doing when it comes to meeting global standards set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

Peer-reviewed research:  Dr Tracy Smith-Carrier and Jacqueline On

In 2021, Canada launched its Canadian Indicator Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, the author’s show how Canada has committed to no more than ‘business as usual.’ So, what would it take for Canada to engage with the goals in a meaningful way? Here’s the abstract:


This article explores the indicators and targets identified in the Canadian Indicator Framework, a localization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for the country of Canada. Applying a critical theoretical lens and a human rights approach, the authors explore each of the ‘ambitions’ proposed by the federal government and assess their suitability in meeting the magnitude of transformative change that will be necessary to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In considering each of the Canadian ambitions proposed to realize Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 17, and the framework as a whole, the authors conclude that a business-as-usual stance has been applied. Many of the Canadian ambitions have ‘no specific target’ identified, offering no baseline measures or concrete standards from which to benchmark and monitor progress. The ones that do are not tremendously transformative, leading to a framework that does not present a dramatic departure from existing policy and practice arrangements. The character of the Canadian ambitions to the Sustainable Development Goals are revealed, not as concrete change strategies, but as mere aspirations, albeit more for the status quo than for transformational action. To translate the Canadian ambitions into actions, human rights must be infused into the Canadian Indicator Framework, and these must be substantive, de facto, rights—rights that people can actually claim, and hold state actors accountable to.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2023 in the Journal of Human Rights Practice.

Full reference //

Smith-Carrier, T., and J. On. (2023). “Ambitious for Change? A Critical Appraisal of the Canadian Indicator Framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Journal of Human Rights Practice.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Knowledge Stitch amplifies open-access peer-reviewed academic research. If you have research you would like readers to check out, click here to suggest your work.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top