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Parc national du Bic Alma Kismic | © Sépaq

Sustainable development

Sustainable development and environmental protection are fundamental values that guide Sépaq's activities and the evolution of the services it offers its customers. Already well integrated into its operations, these values form the basis of efforts to go even further and make Sépaq a model organization.

A strategy aligned with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an appeal to all citizens of the planet to address major global issues and promote prosperity while protecting our Earth.

Find out more about the United Nations SDGs

A concrete contribution

Through its sustainable development initiatives, Sépaq has decided to give priority to contributing to 7 of the 17 United Nations goals, with a marked contribution to objective 15 (Life on land). Our efforts also actively contribute to the Gouvernement du Québec’s strategy for sustainable development in public administration.

Here are a few examples of projects that demonstrate our contribution to these goals.

SDG 3: Good health and well-being

By the very nature of its mission, Sépaq contributes to the good health and well-being of the general public by providing vast natural spaces for one and all. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sépaq's territories remained open to allow millions of people to benefit from regenerating spaces. Sépaq also offers its Social Commitment Program, which, among other things, fosters connection with nature.

SDG 4: Quality education

With its millions of visitor days, Sépaq is an exceptional showcase for raising public awareness of the richness of our natural environments. Whether through interpretation panels, a discussion with an employee, or an activity led by a naturalist guide, young and old alike are encouraged to learn more about the biodiversity of our territories.

In addition, Sépaq develops education plans for each of its national parks, becoming an indispensable resource for schools and offering a wide range of educational activities for students of all ages.

SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

With over 49,000 lakes and 75,000 km of waterways, Sépaq is rich in aquatic ecosystems. Maintaining water quality within the various territories is a constant concern. With their protected area status, the national parks make an undeniable contribution to aquatic ecosystems and water reserves. With a view to preserving this essential resource, Sépaq will gradually phase out single-use plastic bottles of 1.5 litres or less at its points of sale by 2025. This move is a concrete gesture in favour of sustainable development, given the significant environmental impact of plastic containers.

SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy

Sépaq wants to offer sustainable tourism using energy from renewable sources. Since 2021, thanks to its photovoltaic park, Sépaq has been producing around 0.6 MW of electricity annually through its multiple solar installations. And in 2022, Aquarium du Québec switched to renewable natural gas for the benefit of its users.

Sépaq is also pursuing the electrification of its vehicle fleet: over 20% of the fleet is electrified, and more than 150 recharging stations are available throughout the network for the benefit of its vehicles and those of its clientele.

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

Sépaq acts as a responsible organization with regard to the management and disposal of its residual materials as well as those left by visitors on its territories. Since the update of its environmental management plan in 2020, responsible consumption is more than ever at the heart of numerous initiatives, such as the introduction of composting in cabins planned for summer 2024.

SDG 13: Climate action

Sépaq recognizes that climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss and that it compromises nature's ability to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs). That's why the organization wants to play an active role in the fight against climate change, in particular by minimizing the carbon footprint of its activities. To this end, Sépaq has developed its own greenhouse gas emissions compiler. Our actions are mainly aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption and implementing electrification.

SDG 15: Life on land

The Sépaq network covers more than 50,000 km2, made up largely of forest ecosystems, wetlands, and waterways. It’s home to a number of threatened, vulnerable, and designatable species, including woodland and mountain caribou. Sépaq therefore has a major responsibility to protect the region's natural heritage.

To ensure that the ecological and heritage value of our national parks is properly preserved, Sépaq applies an environmental indicator monitoring program. The aim of this program is to understand the general state of health of each national park, to take action as soon as problem situations are identified, and to report on their state of health to citizens and the Gouvernement du Québec.

Parc national de la Gaspésie
Parc national de la Gaspésie Jean-Sébastien Chartier-Plante | © Sépaq
Réserve faunique de Matane
Réserve faunique de Matane Éric Deschamps | © Sépaq
Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier
Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier Mikaël Rondeau | © Sépaq
Parc national des Monts-Valin
Parc national des Monts-Valin Canopée Médias | © Sépaq

Our Sustainable Development Action Plan

Alongside these projects, Sépaq has drawn up a Sustainable Development Action Plan for the years 2023 to 2028. A brief synopsis of the thirteen actions of the plan is provided here:

See our full Sustainable Development Action Plan (in French only)

Generating a circular economy project with the replacement of canvas in ready-to-camp units (RÉPAC project)

In 2023, Sépaq will begin a program to upgrade its "traditional" ready-to-camp units, representing more than 500 canvases throughout the network that will have to be replaced by 2028. A circular economy project would make it possible to recycle the fabrics at the end of their useful life, thus preventing these 60,000 m2 of textile materials from ending up in landfill sites.

Target 2027-2028: Annually recycle more than 75% of end-of-life canvases through the RÉPAC project.

Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier Mikaël Rondeau | © Sépaq

Supporting sustainable outdoor activities at Sépaq

National park lands must benefit present and future generations. That's why Sépaq has established education plans for each of them. These plans are designed to help visitors become more aware of the need for sustainable use of natural environments and to better understand and appreciate the natural world around them. Education strategies are therefore formulated, and their success rate enables Sépaq to measure the effort invested in informing and supporting national park visitors in the practice of sustainable activities.

Target 2027-2028: 75% of education plan strategies achieved.

Réserve faunique des Laurentides Thomas Patry | © Sépaq

Increasing Sépaq's share of responsible purchasing

Policy (in French only) that aims to increase the proportion of responsible purchasing, encourage local purchasing, and provide purchasing managers with ecological, social, and energy transition criteria to take into account when purchasing or leasing certain goods, assets, and services. Indicators are used to track and measure Sépaq's progress in responsible purchasing.

Target 2027-2028: Have 50% of government procurement published in the SEAO include responsible components. 

Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie Steve Deschênes | © Sépaq

Reducing GHG emissions generated by Sépaq's buildings and infrastructures

Sépaq has a large real estate portfolio of nearly 2,000 buildings. However, due to the nature of the territory, some infrastructures still depend on fossil fuels to produce the energy required for their operation. A transition to solar energy has been well underway for several years, and we are continuing to convert these infrastructures where possible and appropriate, with the aim of reducing the GHG emissions produced by the building stock per unit area (m2).

Target 2027-2028: Achieve a 12.5% reduction in GHG emissions per square metre for Sépaq buildings.

Parc national du Mont-Orford Mikaël Rondeau | © Sépaq

Improving Sépaq's management of residual materials

Sépaq's establishments have to manage over 2,400 tonnes of residual materials every year. Household waste, recyclables, and organic materials are certainly an everyday logistical issue, but it's the other types of residual materials, often considered hazardous, that present a real challenge. Sépaq is therefore committed to developing action plans to ensure that all its establishments are recognized by RECYC-QUÉBEC's "ICI on recycle +" program.

Target 2027-2028: Have 100% of Sépaq establishments apply for "Implementation" certification under Recyc-Québec's ICI on recycle + program. 

Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville Beside | © Sépaq

Increasing the proportion of low- and zero-emission vehicles in the national park fleet

In 2019-2020, Sépaq ranked fourth among ministries and agencies with the largest fleets of light vehicles. To actively contribute to improving the Gouvernement du Québec's environmental performance, Sépaq is pursuing its efforts to reduce GHG emissions from its vehicle fleet. Despite certain challenges related to electrification in remote areas, Sépaq aims to increase the proportion of hybrid vehicles in its fleet of light and heavy vehicles in national parks.

Target 2027-2028: Have a light and heavy vehicle fleet composed of 30% hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles. 

Certification Biosphere en tourisme durable

Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is certified Biosphere in sustainable tourism

In 2024, the internationally renowned tourist destination became the first tourist attraction in the Greater Québec City area to obtain Biosphere certification in sustainable tourism. Created by the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI) and supported by UNESCO, Biosphere certification is obtained following demonstration of the tourist attraction's commitments to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN. Find out more

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