Julie Gelfand

Distinguished Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
Julie Gelfand


Main bio

Julie Gelfand has over 35 years working in the field of environment, sustainable development and corporate social responsibility for government, non-government organizations and the private sector before becoming the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.   

Gelfand presently sits on the Board of World Wildlife Fund Canada, Clear Seas for Responsible Marine Shipping, and the Auditor General of Ontario’s External Advisory Board.  She is also the Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Departmental Audit Committee and is a member of the Statistics Canada Departmental Audit Committee. She is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation and provides consulting services to nongovernmental organizations in the areas of leadership, strategic planning and advocacy. Shis also a Fellow with the Sustainable Prosperity Institute at the University of Ottawa.   

As federal Commissioner in the Office of the Auditor General of Canada she reported to Parliamentarians on the implementation of their legislation and policies. She led the first collaborative audit on climate change with the Auditors General of all the provinces and territories which tabled in 2018. She also led audits on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the National Energy Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal gas tax fund, aquaculture and fisheries management, fossil fuel subsidies, environmental monitoring of the oil sands, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, biodiversity conservation, severe weather preparedness, ‎pesticides and chemicals in consumer products. 

In the private sector, Gelfand was Vice President of Environment and Social Responsibility for the Rio Tinto Iron Ore Company of Canada where she co-led the company’s negotiations with first nations on Impact Benefits Agreements and she managed greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, and fish habitat and water effluent issues. As Vice President of Sustainability with the Mining Association of Canada she worked to improve the environment and sustainability of the mining sector leading the Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative. 

In the charitable sector, Gelfand spent over 20 years lobbying for the conservation of nature in Canada and around the world.  She was the President of Nature Canada for 16 years, founded the Green Budget Coalition and worked for 2 other environmental organizations. She was on the Global Board of Directors of Birdlife International for 10 years. Her early years were spent at Parks Canada.   

She is a mom, a nature lover and has recently taken up mountain biking and tap dancing.

Updated July 2023