PM commits to protect 30% of UK land by 2030 as world leaders pledge to reverse nature loss

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 28 September 2020

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Today (28 Sept), Heads of State and Government from more than 60 countries – including the UK – committed to reverse nature loss by the end of the decade.

Through the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development, leaders have pledged to undertake urgent actions over the next 10 years as part of the UN Decade of Action to achieve Sustainable Development.

The pledge comes days ahead of the UN Summit on Biodiversity, sending a strong, united signal that the world must step up ambition to halt and reverse nature loss for the benefit of people and nature and to help tackle climate change. 

The Leaders Pledge for Nature commits world leaders to take 10 urgent actions, including on sustainable food production, ending the illegal wildlife trade and implementing nature-based solutions for climate change.

Protecting 30% of UK land

The Prime Minister signed the Leaders Pledge for Nature at a virtual United Nations event today, committing to put nature and biodiversity on a road to recovery by 2030.

Boris Johnson also committed to protect 30% of the UK’s land by 2030. Existing national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other protected areas already comprise approximately 26% of land in England.

An additional 4% – over 400,000 hectares, the size of the Lake District and South Downs national parks combined – will be protected to support the recovery of nature.
 

‘We must turn these words into action and use them to build momentum, to agree ambitious goals and binding targets.

‘We must act now – right now. We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all.

‘Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate.’

BORIS JOHNSON
Prime Minister of the UK

Countries must act now

The government will work with the Devolved Administrations to agree an approach across the UK, and with landowners and civil society to explore how best to increase the size and value of our protected land.

Boris Johnson warned that countries must act now to reverse devastating biodiversity loss and prevent more species from being lost forever, with a 68% decline in global wildlife populations since 1970 alone.

‘It’s right that the Prime Minister is making the protection of nature a priority, particularly at this critical time with our planet in crisis. Nature is at the heart of all our lives, but WWF’s 2020 Living Planet Report shows that it is in freefall, with the UK one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.

‘This announcement is a welcome step, but it must be backed up by urgent ambition, including strong legislation to avoid damaging trade deals and to stop the food we eat from destroying the environment here and abroad. Only then can we meet our climate targets, put nature on the path to recovery and set our sights on global leadership at COP 26.’

TANYA STEELE
Chief executive of WWF-UK

Now is the time to act

In the past year, a series of major reports have focused global attention on the biodiversity crisis, with nature currently declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.

WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020, released earlier this month, revealed a 68% decline in vertebrate populations globally since 1970, driven by the way we currently produce and consume. The EU is no exception. 

‘Nature and biodiversity loss is so severe that it poses grave risks to our health, economy and livelihoods. Pandemics, wildfires, wildlife decline and climate change are all symptoms of our dangerously unbalanced relationship with the natural world. We can’t ignore it any longer, and we must act decisively.

‘The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature marks a pivotal moment with countries demonstrating real leadership from the highest political level, and committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. We call on all leaders to build on this ambition at the forthcoming UN Summit on Biodiversity. Together, they must develop and agree a shared plan for the biodiversity and climate negotiations scheduled for next year, to secure a carbon-neutral, nature-positive and equitable future for all. There has never been a more crucial time to act for nature than now.’

MARCO LAMBERTINI
Director general of WWF-International

A path to recovery

Earlier this year, the Commission published its own EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy; the aim is to finally restore Europe’s nature by the end of the decade.

This strategy has the potential to put Europe’s nature on the path to recovery, but it must be fully endorsed by the Member States, most of which also signed today’s pledge committing to stepping up action on nature. 

Leaders have also committed to meaningful action and mutual accountability to address the planetary emergency, working with all parts of society and meeting at UNGA 2021 to review progress and reaffirm commitments.

The Pledge comes less than two weeks after the release of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, which revealed that the world is not on course to fully meet any of its decade-long Aichi biodiversity targets.

A post-2020 global biodiversity framework with a global goal for nature and new biodiversity targets, is due to be adopted in Kunming, China, under the UN Biodiversity Convention next year.

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