Leaders of seven of the 10 largest economies in the world united in an ambitious agenda for the conservation of the planet, recognizing the critical role of nature in rebuilding the global economy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the heads of state from the G7 nations agreed to conserve or protect at least 30% each of the land and ocean on Earth by 2030 to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. The communique also included support for conserving the biologically rich waters of the Antarctic Southern Ocean, tackling marine plastic pollution, addressing unsustainable and illegal activities negatively impacting nature, and mobilizing sustained financing to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. The G7 finance ministers pledged to approach these measures with a commitment to an “inclusive global recovery that builds back better and greener.”
The G7 communique comes during a pivotal year for global conservation. In July, World Trade Organization members will meet to negotiate an agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies; in August, the United Nations will open the third and final round of negotiations on a draft of its post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which maps out conservation targets for the next decade; in September, the U.N. General Assembly will assess progress of the Leaders Pledge for Nature; in October, at the Convention on Biological Diversity, Parties to that international treaty are expected to agree on an ambitious new plan to safeguard life on Earth; later in October, the members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources have the opportunity to deliver nearly 4 million square kilometers of ocean protection in Antarctica’s Southern Ocean; and in November, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet to assess progress against the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Tom Dillon, head of environment for The Pew Charitable Trusts, issued the following statement:
“Nature underpins human health, well-being, and prosperity, all of which have suffered during the global pandemic. But we can recover, in part by putting biodiversity, climate, and the environment at the heart of COVID-19 recovery strategies and investments.
“By uniting in this effort, the G7 is investing in an environmentally progressive response to the current health, climate, and economic challenges—using our planet’s natural capital as a means to help our communities, our economy, and nature emerge from this period, stronger than they were before.
“Action by the G7 to protect or conserve 30% of the global ocean is a vehicle for nature-based solutions for climate; where fisheries thrive, marine life has the space to rebound and recover, and we sustain the economic, cultural, and life-supporting benefits of a healthy marine environment. Robust and well-managed marine protections can deliver adaptation and resilience benefits, which are critical for people and nature to survive climate shocks and stresses such as drought, flooding, and sea-level rise.
“We’re at a tipping point for our planet, where the actions of governments could influence the conservation of our planet for decades to come, and drive benefits for people and nature. The first stop is the World Trade Organization next month, where we could see the much-needed shift from pledges to action—to members delivering a meaningful and robust agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies. If successful, this would be one of the single biggest actions to end overfishing in our ocean.
“For many of us involved in global conservation, we have learned several lessons since the Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals were agreed upon a decade ago. Today we recognize the critical need to ensure that financial and technical resources are mobilized to deliver the targets that are agreed; that we work with all stewards of land and sea to deliver inclusive, equitable, and just conservation goals; and that our approach is informed by robust science that also focuses on the quality of protection.
“We also have the benefit of new mechanisms for protecting the planet. And, unlike in 2010, governments, multilateral development banks, market leaders, and coalitions are coming together to put financial resources into achieving global biodiversity targets for the next decade and beyond.”