Sustainable Development

Protecting 30% of the planet by 2030 to secure our life support system

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Sustainable Development

The impact

The science is clear: one of the most critical solutions to the climate crisis lies in protecting and restoring nature.

There is growing scientific consensus that to keep the planet and its population flourishing, 30% of Earth needs to be protected by 2030.

The international community is preparing to set new biodiversity targets during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in October 2020 in China and establish a post-2020 strategic plan for biodiversity. Leading up to this crucial conference, we have a unique opportunity to influence and encourage for more ambitious global targets, which could help pave the way to a more sustainable planet.

In response to the current urgency and need for leaders to take action, the Forum of Young Global Leaders has partnered with National Geographic Society and conservation partners from around the world to support the Campaign for Nature, which champions the 30% target and is working to help to secure commitments from key countries.

Its members have formed multistakeholder coalitions in seven countries to date, including India, France, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Taking on a stewardship and advocacy role within their own countries, YGLs from organizations such as the Confederation of British Industry, Engie Group, SCA Group of Companies, Siemens and Suez are working with government and conservation organizations to mobilize resources, knowledge and networks to secure commitments from their countries.

President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica, who is a Young Global Leader, used his address during the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit 2019 to call on policymakers to support a a High Ambition Coalition of Nations committed to the 30% target.

“The fires, floods and ice melts are planetary alarm bells for us humans to act,” said Alvarado Quesada. “Costa Rica has heard these wake-up calls loud and clear and wants all nations to join us in launching a High Ambition Coalition at the UNFCCC Pre-COP in San Jose, committing to protect 30% of our planet by 2030.”

In addition, over 20 YGLs are working in collaboration with Dynamic Planet and its CEO Kristin Rechberger on innovative financial models to best invest in nature and fund conservation of 30% of the planet by 2030 and to support achievement of this target.


What’s the challenge?

Our natural world is disappearing at an alarming rate.

The rapid loss of natural areas around the world poses a grave threat to clean air and clean drinking water and the prosperity of communities. This trend is also affecting the survival of wildlife and the world’s ability to protect itself from severe weather, floods, catastrophic wildfires and other effects of a changing climate.

“We ought to stop the unplugging of our life support system,” said Enric Sala, Young Global Leader 2008 and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. “Without a healthy natural world, the future of humanity will be grim.”

More than 1 million plant and animal species face extinction and, if current trends continue, up to 90% of the world’s coral reefs could disappear by mid-century. However, only 7% of oceans and 15% of land are protected.

Nature is also the cornerstone of business, providing an estimated $125 trillion a year of “free” support to the global economy.

Our approach

The Forum of Young Global Leaders in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and other Forum Communities is working on three areas:

1. Inspire countries to support the 30% by 2030 target through stewardship and advocacy

YGLs are taking up stewardship within their country or region and dedicating their time, resources and networks to engage governments, businesses and local NGOs to adopt the “Global Deal for Nature” and commit to the ambitious biodiversity conservation targets (land and ocean) of 30% by 2030.

2. Raise awareness globally of the value of and need for biodiversity

To increase public understanding of the importance of safeguarding the planet, the YGL community facilitates and engages in conversations on the global agenda to promote the global media campaign, #Campaignfornature.

3. Inspire governments and funders to increase investment in protected areas

The YGL community is developing a business case for nature that sets out the rationale for placing biodiversity at the heart of global and national policy, legislation, plans and projects, and investing in conservation of nature.

The World Economic Forum, supported by key partners, will publish a series of reports under the moniker of the New Nature Economy Report that aim to establish the business and economic case for safeguarding nature. The first edition, focused on risks, will be released in January 2020; the second edition, focused on opportunities, will be released in June 2020; and the third edition, focused on financing, will be released in August 2020.

How Can You Get Involved?

To restore and preserve nature, we need to combine our efforts both locally and at the international level. Here is what you can do:

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Sustainable DevelopmentNature and Biodiversity
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