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The Race is On to Protect the World’s Lands and Oceans

Top scientists and environmentalists are pushing for the protection of one-third of the world’s lands and oceans within the coming decade. With continuing climatic changes and habitat destruction, leading thinkers in the environmental field believe that conservation is key to keeping the planet habitable for generations to come. The 30x30 campaign is a joint venture between the Wyss Campaign for Nature and National Geographic Society, funded by a billion dollar conservation grant from Swiss billionaire and tech entrepreneur, Hansjörg Wyss.  The campaign aims to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans and lands by the year 2030. 

Countries around the world have joined the campaign and signed legislation to protect ecosystems and biodiversity. The European Union has pledged to protect and restore 30 percent of their ecosystems. They have also designated 10 percent of their budget to conservation efforts and included biodiversity conservation into nearly all new EU legislation. Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has already begun to commit the country to reaching the 30x30 goals by signing legislation for the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative. Many other countries are following suit such as Costa Rica and Colombia. 

According to a study published by the Conservation Science Partners, the United States is losing nearly one football field of natural space every 30 seconds. The Trump administration’s removal of the Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network, an initiative that began under the Obama administration, has led to the closure of 22 research centers dedicated to tackling conservation problems across the U.S. Countries including the US and Brazil have also loosened restrictions on resource extraction and agricultural activities that lead to habitat destruction. The good news is that President Biden has committed the US to the goal of protecting 30 percent of U.S. land and coastal seas by 2030 through a series of executive orders passed in late January. 

California hosts an incredible amount of biodiversity on both land and in our oceans – in fact California is considered one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots due to its variety of plant and animal species. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has signed two executive orders designed to utilize nature-based solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and pledged to protect 30 percent of California’s land and oceans by 2030, joining more than 50 countries throughout the world that have pledged to protect their natural lands. This effort will help to protect the roughly 5,500 species, 40 percent of which are unique to California. 

Surfrider supports the 30x30 campaign and commends Governor Newsom for his steps taken to preserve coastal ecosystems. Today, nearly 16 percent of California’s state waters are protected under the Marine Life Protection Act. As the state moves forward, other important coastal waters, such as Areas of Biological Significance (ASBS) hold promise in counting toward the conservation goal. The path forward to accomplish this lofty – but not impossible – goal of 30 percent protection in California, the U.S. and globally will need support from everyone, everywhere. Surfrider has partnered with Surfrider Foundation Europe in support of the We Are One Ocean campaign led by World Surf League PURE. We recognize a need for an international strategy for ocean conservation, and we are happy to be part of the effort to protect more of our precious ocean ecosystems. 

You can learn more about the domestic ocean-focused aspects of the 30x30 campaign here. If you would like to get involved with the 30x30 movement, Surfrider suggests signing the Healthy Ocean Coalition’s Supportive Petition and the Campaign for Nature’s 30x30 Nature Petition