Conservation is core to the National Geographic Society’s DNA.
More than a century ago, National Geographic magazine’s first full-time editor, Gilbert H. Grosvenor, was invited to trek through the Sierra Nevada mountain range. He was so moved by this journey that he devoted the entire edition of the April 1916 issue of the magazine to America’s scenic wonders to encourage citizens to appreciate and preserve the natural world. When it came time to vote on a bill to establish the U.S. National Park Service, Grosvenor delivered copies to every congressman in the Capitol. That same year, 1916, the bill was signed into law.
For 131 years, the Society has supported and invested in efforts like Grosvenor’s—efforts that illuminate the wonders of the world, define global challenges, identify solutions, and, perhaps most importantly, inspire action—all with the goal of expanding our understanding of the Earth so we can better protect it for generations.
But in that time, the world has changed in profound ways. Threats to the natural world have grown increasingly dire. The facts and figures from the past half century alone are staggering: more than 50 percent of our tropical forests and more than 60 percent of all wildlife populations have been wiped out. Today, 90 percent of the world’s fisheries are exploited or overfished. Our planet is out of balance.
But science shows us that in protected areas, life bounces back. That’s why the National Geographic Society has joined forces with the Wyss Foundation to develop a new Campaign for Nature that calls for the protection of 30 percent of the planet by 2030.
This is an undoubtedly ambitious goal—today, protected areas cover just 15 percent of land and 7 percent of the ocean. But this goal is urgently needed and uniquely attainable. In 2020, decision-makers from more than 190 countries will come together in Beijing, China, to agree to an ambitious new plan to safeguard nature by 2050. This will be a key moment in deciding our planet’s future.
That’s why the National Geographic Society joined with 12 of the world’s top conservation organizations to call upon global decision-makers to safeguard life on Earth by setting ambitious goals for the protection of the planet’s biodiversity. This joint statement, submitted to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (the UN body working on a framework for post-2020 targets for nature), outlines a set of shared goals for an ambitious plan to safeguard our planet.
More than ever, the Society is committed to building upon Gil Grosvenor’s legacy of inspiring action that will protect the natural world for generations to come. The Society is working to support the establishment of new protected areas, elevate and share best practices in protected area management, deploy technology to improve and monitor conservation outcomes, and invest in long-term conservation efforts.
To learn more about our work to protect the natural wonders that sustain life on Earth, click here.