National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

Major new commitments and finance for nature ahead of global biodiversity summit

Unprecedented philanthropic funding to meet 30x30 goal and advance Indigenous stewardship announced.

New York, New York (22 September 2021)—Over 20 heads of state, as well as business, philanthropy and Indigenous leaders, made major funding announcements and conservation commitments today at the Transformative Action for Nature and People, a UN General Assembly side event, which aimed to build momentum ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will begin on October 11, 2021.

One effort, the global push to protect and conserve at least 30% of the world’s lands, freshwater and oceans by 2030, gained major traction today as leaders of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC) committed to new conservation action and announced that 72 countries now support the global goal. Together, the HAC country members harbor 42% of land biodiversity and 30% of terrestrial carbon stocks, 44% of ocean biodiversity conservation priority areas and 46% of sediment carbon (and 30% of carbon at risk from bottom trawling) in exclusive economic zones. Additionally, between the HAC, the Global Ocean Alliance (a coalition of countries championing the ocean 30by30 target), and other initiatives, over 100 countries now support the ocean “30by30” target.

In an unprecedented announcement, nine philanthropic organizations launched the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge” and pledged $5 billion to protect and conserve 30% of the planet by 2030 by supporting protected areas and Indigenous stewardship of their territories. This marks the largest-ever philanthropic commitment to nature conservation. Indigenous leaders welcomed the announcement as a sign of how the 30% target could be aligned with human rights. The pledge includes a $500 million commitment from philanthropist Hansjorg Wyss, adding on to the $1 billion pledge he made for nature three years ago, which helped inspire other philanthropists to support nature conservation.

This commitment to ensure 30 percent of the planet is protected and preserved in the most important places for biodiversity by 2030 is being made jointly by Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin; Bezos Earth Fund; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Nia Tero; Rainforest Trust ($500 million); Re:wild; Wyss Foundation ($500 million); and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation. These private funders have launched the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge.”

At the same event, Saker Nusseibeh, the CEO of International Federated Hermes announced on behalf of the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge’s initiative that 75 financial institutions–worth a collective €12 trillion in assets–have committed to protecting and restoring biodiversity through their finance activities and investments thereby making an important contribution to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 and reducing existing investments which are harmful to nature.

Furthermore, Yannick Glemarec, the Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, said that the fund is devoting a considerable portion of its portfolio, now close to $9 billion, to restoring ecosystems while creating jobs, sending a strong signal of the importance of nature in addressing the climate crisis and sustaining livelihoods. 

Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, reiterated that the European Union will double its external funding for biodiversity. The additional €4 billion ($4.7 billion) from 2021-2027 will assist the most vulnerable countries. Chancellor Merkel of Germany also reiterated support for the 30×30 target and the country’s pledge to increase international climate financing to an annual €6 billion ($7 billion) by 2025 at the latest.

The hope is that these significant financing announcements can spur further public and private investments for the new Global Biodiversity Framework to be agreed at COP15 and close the substantial financing gap – estimated at $700 billion per year.

The event also included statements by Indigenous leaders, who are critical partners in achieving 30×30 and other nature goals. Indigenous leaders from Canada’s James Bay, Hudson Bay, and Labrador Sea regions aim to create six new Indigenous-led Protected Areas. These areas host unique populations of beluga whales, polar bears, walrus, over 170 species of birds and waterfowl and multitudes of fish.

More details on the announcements and statements by Heads of State include the following:

  • Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada announced that the country is working to ramp up its ocean protection–from 2.67% to 30%. This will include expanding the Cocos Islands National Park.

  • President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari announced the establishment of ten new national parks across the country and the creation of marine protected areas.

  • Five European countries–Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia–presented the 700-kilometer-long (435-mile-long) Mura-Drava-Danube reserve. The recently-established UNESCO biosphere reserve, the so-called ‘Amazon of Europe,’ is the continent’s largest riverine protected area and the world’s first five-nation biosphere reserve.

  • The Prime Minister of Belgium, H.E. Alexander De Croo reiterated that it will increase its annual global climate funding commitment by 30%–from €70 million to €100 million ($82 million to $117 million).

  • Rt Hon Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda–on behalf of the more than 70 member states of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)– announced steps toward a transformational legally binding agreement to combat plastic pollution.

Quotes from Transformative Action for Nature and People 

H.E. Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President, Costa Rica announced:

Costa Rica is working towards achieving the protection of 30% of our ocean. By expanding the Cocos Island National Park, we will ensure our ocean´s health for many years to come. But not only are we working hard to make this great step, we are also trying to ensure the necessary funds to make this more than a park in “paper”, but a true model of conservation. This announcement is part of our global leadership of the now 72 country strong High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People to achieve the protection of 30% of the planet by 2030.

H.E. Mr. Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment of China said:

China has carried out multiple major biodiversity conservation projects, such as setting the ecological conservation red lines, developing a national parks system and  enforcing a 10-year fishing ban in the Yangtze River, contributing Chinese experience to global biodiversity conservation. China will conscientiously perform its duties as the host country of CBD COP15 to promote all parties to jointly contribute to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

In her video remarks, H.E. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany said:

We need a real turnaround in order to protect nature. That means ensuring effective protection of at least 30% of the world’s land and seas … With the Legacy Landscapes Fund we are working with private sector partners to set up conservation areas. Furthermore, we want to increase our contribution to international climate financing to an annual 6 billion Euros by 2025 at the latest. I am sure that this investment in the future will pay dividends.

In her video remarks, H.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway stated:

Norway has joined two High Ambition Coalitions to conserve and protect 30% of land and the Ocean. But 30 percent is not enough. We also have to improve the state of the environment on the remaining 70 percent. Last year, the Ocean Panel launched an agenda to build a sustainable ocean economy.  At the front is the commitment to sustainably manage 100 % of our ocean areas by 2025.

In his video remarks, H.E. Rear-Admiral Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji announced:

We are committed to the 100% sustainable management of the ocean, with 30% declared as marine protected areas. We will be a net zero society by 2050 with drastic emission cuts secured by 2030. We have banned deep seabed mining in Fijian waters. We are committed to planting 30 million trees and dramatically improving mangrove cover in our coastal regions. We have banned single use plastics and styrofoam. We call on the world to match our ambition for nature and the climate.

In his video remarks, H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria committed to:

Regional and interregional coordination which we are currently championing. The expansion of protecting areas including the establishment of ten new national parks across the country as well as creation of marine protected areas pursuant to the 30×30 agenda of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In his video remarks, H.E. Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon said:

As we are preparing for the next Council Of the Parties on Biodiversity I urge humanity to make strong and concrete commitments. It is time for humanity to make peace with nature for the sake of present and future generations.

In a press release, Hansjörg Wyss, Founder and Chairman of the Wyss Foundation said:

The actions we take from today through 2030 will determine the fate of our natural world. For our grandchildren and their grandchildren to have the same opportunities we’ve had, for them to inherit a functioning planet, we have to rapidly slow the rate at which our economies are destroying nature. This challenge is why I continue working alongside local communities, Indigenous Peoples, and nations to quickly narrow the enormous gap between how little of the natural world is protected and how much needs to be protected.

In a press release about the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge,” Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin of Arcadia said:

Protecting at least 30% of our planet by 2030 is not a luxury but a vital measure to preserve the Earth’s health and wellbeing. Private donors have a role to play, but this goal requires the commitment of all governments and of the communities that manage some of the world’s most biodiverse landscapes. We are delighted to support the Protecting Our Planet Coalition Challenge and hope that this initiative will motivate others to join us.

In a press release about the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge,” Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, said:

This is the decisive decade for tackling climate change, and protecting the lands and waters that serve as our life support system is an imperative in that fight. Governments, corporations, philanthropies and NGOs have a collective role to play in reversing nature’s decline. By prioritizing the voices of Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities, protecting our most delicate and vital natural resources, and creating more equitable access to nature for all, we will ultimately help humanity and every living species on our planet thrive.

In a press release about the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge,” Antha Williams, Global Head of Climate and Environment Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said:

A global 30×30 conservation target is not an arbitrary aspiration—it is a scientific and moral necessity. We need increased political leadership and funding to slow the alarming loss of coral reefs, mangroves, and other ecosystems critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Bloomberg Philanthropies is pleased to join the Protecting Our Planet Challenge, an important movement to support communities whose food, livelihoods, and health are under threat by the projected worst of climate change and loss of biodiversity.

Referring to the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge” announcement, Ms. Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Nia Tero Board Chair & Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said:

Investing in the rights of Indigenous peoples and their guardianship of territory is one of the most important, and most overlooked, strategies for addressing the existential threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. As an organization committed to securing Indigenous guardianship of thriving ecosystems, we applaud these leading-edge funders for dramatically expanding support of this essential pathway to achieve the 30×30 targets.

Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous Peoples of Chad (AFPAT), said:

Indigenous peoples have been some of the worst affected by climate impacts, but we also have the solutions. Indigenous peoples make up only 5% of the world’s population, yet we protect around 80% of the world’s biodiversity and a third of the carbon stored in tropical forests. We are guardians of nature: there is no route to a safe climate that does not include recognition and support for our communities. 

There must be recognition of the 80% of biodiversity that Indigenous peoples are conserving already and the 30×30 initiative is a good complementary idea as long as it is done with the free prior and informed consent and in partnership with indigenous peoples, respecting them and their rights and traditional knowledge that we know are essential to effectively protect nature and provide for people.

Mr. Johnny Kasudluak, Arqvilliit Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area, Nunavik, Canada stated:

The entire circumpolar world is being affected by the changing climate. Our ecosystems will be headed for collapse without strong initiatives. The rest of the world needs to realize the need to follow Indigenous Peoples’ examples of taking care of their lands and waters. What each person does within the environment affects your neighbours all over the world. All ecosystems around the world are interconnected. Our Arqvilliit IPCA project is a step towards protecting our environment for our wildlife, our community, as well as our neighbours near and far. These areas of the planet where nature thrives must be respected and be part of the global push to conserve at least 30% of the land and ocean by 2030.

Mr. Levi Sucre Romero, Coordinator of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB)

As Indigenous Peoples and local communities, we tenure and manage the tropical forests of the world and yet, we only receive less than one percent of international donor funding. We are certain that current mechanisms will not be successful in reaching climate goals, but we are here, willing to work together in new ways, as partners, to save Mother Earth.

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The Campaign for Nature works with scientists, Indigenous Peoples, and a growing coalition of over 100 conservation organizations around the world who are calling on policymakers to commit to clear and ambitious targets to be agreed upon at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China in 2021 to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030 and working with Indigenous leaders to ensure full respect for Indigenous rights.

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