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Environmental groups urge UN biodiversity talks to embrace ‘Nature-Positive by 2030’ goal

CEOs from 14 of the world’s largest environmental organizations call for a global goal to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030

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CEOs from 14 of the world’s largest environmental organizations are calling for a global goal to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030, and achieve full recovery by 2050. They are calling for this goal to become the overarching Mission of the new 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework which will be agreed at this year’s COP15 UN biodiversity summit in Kunming, China.

As delegates arrive in Geneva for the final round of talks prior to Kunming itself, the first face-to-face session since the pandemic began, a new paper urges negotiators to embrace clear, science-based targets and hold governments accountable to their commitments to halt and reverse today’s catastrophic loss of nature.

The aim of the two-week long Geneva meeting is to finalise the draft of the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) prior to final adoption in Kunming aiming to cement its potential as nature’s equivalent of the Paris Agreement. 

Backed by multiple NGOs including The Nature Conservancy, WWF International, Conservation International, Wildlife Conservation Society, and BirdLife International and business coalitions such as Business for Nature and WBCSD , today’s paper calls on negotiators to revise the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’s Mission to include the following goal:

“For the benefit of people and planet, take urgent action across society to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and achieve a nature positive world by 2030, so that there is more nature in 2030 than 2020, using biodiversity sustainably and ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources.”

The paper sets out how the world can track progress toward achieving a nature-positive world by 2030, through measurements designed to quantify the maintenance and improvement of natural processes, ecosystems and species over time. These include migration patterns; carbon sequestration and storage; ecological integrity of habitats; extinction risk of species; wildlife abundance; and genetic diversity. Achieving a consensus on the ability to measure these trends is important for biodiversity conservation. Organizations are asking governments to commit to new targets and actions at a national level within one year of CBD-COP15. 

Humanity faces multiple existential and interconnected threats: nature loss, climate change, pandemics, and inequitable human development patterns. There is a high-level measurable goal for climate change under the Paris Agreement and Glasgow Climate Pact: carbon neutrality (net zero) by 2050 with the 2030 goal of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent relative to the 2010 level. 

These organizations argue that a similar complementary and measurable global goal for nature is critical to drive action from all sectors in society, business, and governments, and unlock the additional finance needed to enable biodiversity’s recovery. 

Commenting on these proposals, Jennifer Morris, Chief Executive Officer, The Nature Conservancy, said: "After so many missed opportunities for face-to-face conversations during the pandemic, we're calling on CBD negotiators to make up for lost time in Geneva and fast-track Nature Positive thinking. Fresh scientific evidence gives us the guidance needed to bolster the Global Biodiversity Framework due for approval in Kunming. We must stem the loss of our ecological life-support systems now.”

The Nature Positive goal proposes three basic milestones for success: (1) zero net loss of nature from 2020; (2) net positive improvement in nature by 2030, and (3) full recovery of nature by 2050. 

To deliver against these goals, civil society groups recommend a series of actions including that we

  • View all economic activity through a nature-positive lens;

  • Cease activities that degrade or convert natural ecosystems, particularly those that are highly intact;

  • Restore ecosystems wherever possible;

  • Increase funding for protected areas and sustainably-stewarded Indigenous lands;

  • Protect at least 30% of land, inland waters, and the ocean.

The Nature Positive by 2030 goal has already been adopted in other influential international fora, including the G7 Leaders 2030 Nature Compact and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature . 

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Other quotes from NGO leaders: 

Patricia Zurita, Chief Executive Officer of BirdLife International commented: 

“Birds are nature’s early warning system, and BirdLife’s latest report shows society’s collective failure to meet current biodiversity targets. But we’ve also shown that nature can rebound with the right intervention, adequate funding and local buy-in – bringing combined benefits for climate and people. It’s not too late to transform our relationship with nature, but it’s urgent: the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’s central mission must drive action across society and catalyze greater, more effective funding to achieve a nature-positive world by 2030, by halting and reversing the loss of nature. And, crucially, this goal needs to be measurable.” 

Eva Zabey, Executive Director, Business for Nature commented:

"The race has started to reverse nature loss. In every race, there must be a finish line. As things stand, the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework is too vague and does not yet have a clear finish line.  During this next round of critical negotiations, we urge countries to adopt a clear goal to reverse nature loss by 2030. Businesses need this certainty to transform their business models and scale up nature positive actions and investments."

Mark Gough, CEO, Capitals Coalition commented:

“Nature positive by 2030 is more than a rallying cry. It is a measurable goal that the world can use to halt and reverse nature loss and deliver broad benefits across society as well as in the natural world. With significant scientific efforts clearly setting out the challenge and identifying metrics to measure progress, it’s clear that business must also play a significant role in achieving this goal. Target 15 will be key to this success with its proposal for mandatory requirements for businesses to identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on the natural world.”

M. Sanjayan, CEO, Conservation International commented:

“If humans continue to plunder nature, we could trigger total collapse of Earth’s life-sustaining systems: the water cycle, food webs, and carbon capture,” said Dr. M Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International. “The climate movement has benefited immensely from concrete goals, unlocking trillions of dollars in capital in the process — and now that scientists have the tools to reliably measure the health of our biosphere, we can set similar benchmarks for nature loss. With civil society, businesses, and governments rallied around shared targets, we can focus our collective attention on protecting and restoring the world’s vital ecosystems, greening the global economy, and halting species loss.”

Lucy Almond, Director and Chair, Nature4Climate commented:

“The new 10-year Global Biodiversity Framework offers a chance to reorient our relationship with nature to one of sustainable stewardship. It's time to provide more biodiverse habitat for all species while also improving Indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights, cleaner water and air, more resilient cities, more fertile soils, and – of course – much-needed climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

Peter Bakker, President & CEO World Business Council for Sustainable Development commented:

“As we move into the final stages of adopting a new deal for nature through the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), we must keep the ambition high. The Global Goal for Nature sets us on a path to nature positive by 2030 and business is stepping up. At this critical time, we expect governments to adopt the Nature Positive ambition in the GBF text and support in tackling biodiversity loss.” 

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, commented:

 “Almost one hundred world leaders have pledged ambitious goals and actions to reverse nature loss, recognising the catastrophic consequences that will otherwise threaten the future of humanity. The meetings kicking off this week are their chance to translate those pledges into firm commitments by negotiating a draft global biodiversity agreement that will deliver a nature-positive future. The draft currently on the table is nowhere near ambitious enough to safeguard the natural ecosystems we all depend on. We urge negotiators arriving in Geneva to ensure a global goal to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 is adopted in the final agreement. Just as we have a carbon-neutral goal to guide our efforts on climate, biodiversity needs a nature-positive goal as the ‘North Star’ to drive forward action and put nature on a one-way path to recovery before it’s too late.” 

Dr. Jodi Hilty, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative President and Chief Scientist commented:

“By progressing towards making the world nature-positive by 2030, such as conserving and restoring habitat and corridors, together we can turn the protection and recovery of the natural world into one of humanity's great success stories.”

Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever and Chair and co-founder of IMAGINE, added:

“The private sector is profoundly dependent on the nature-based services we have destroyed at too rapid a pace. Whatever business you are in, from consumer goods to energy or finance, your company has infinitely better prospects in a regenerative, restorative, nature-positive economy. Business and civil society leaders are sending a clear message to the negotiators: be ambitious, precise and concrete, and we are with you.”

Full list of signatories: -

Patricia Zurita, Chief Executive Officer, BirdLife International

Eva Zabey, Executive Director, Business for Nature 

Brian O’Donnell, Director, Campaign for Nature 

Mark Gough, Chief Executive Officer, Capitals Coalition 

M. Sanjayan, Chief Executive Officer, Conservation International 

Paul Polman, Co-Founder, IMAGINE 

Dr. James C. Deutsch, Chief Executive Officer, Rainforest Trust 

Jennifer Morris, Chief Executive Officer, The Nature Conservancy 

Dr. Cristián Samper, President & Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society 

Peter Bakker, President & Chief Executive Officer, World Business Council for Sustainable Development 

Ani Dasgupta, President & Chief Executive Officer, World Resources Institute 

Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International 

Jodi Hilty, President & Chief Scientist, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Johan Rockström, Director Potsdam Institute Climate Impact Research (PIK)

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The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.