Tough Questions for the “30×30” Conservation Agenda

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas, NV, USA. Photo by Peregrine Photography via Unsplash.


The global conservation community is uniting around a common goal: to protect and conserve 30 percent of the planet by 2030. With 84 heads of state or government pledging their commitment, this “30 × 30” target will likely inform the next decade of international biodiversity policy.

In January 2021, US President Joe Biden joined this effort by promising to protect 30 percent of US lands and waters by 2030 through “conserving and restoring public lands and water, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.” This action-oriented plan is a promising beginning; however, the US – and other countries with similar ambitions for the 30 × 30 target – must first create a vision for the desired future state of the environment and then strategize how to achieve it in the most optimal way.

A new journal article by Blake Alexander Simmons, Christoph Nolte and Jennifer McGowan, published in the journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, discusses the importance of determining what objectives matter, what actions will count and who will get to decide what is included in the US 30 x 30 conservation agenda.

This article builds on research first published as a Global Development Policy Center working paper in January 2021.

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