NCEL Blog

States Spur Federal Action on 30×30

January 27, 2021 | This blog was written by Dylan Macy, NCEL’s Communications Fellow. Dylan is a recent graduate of Pitzer College with a B.A. in Environmental Policy and Media Production.

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The natural world is shrinking. Human activity has significantly altered 70% of the world’s natural land and 87% of oceans. The world’s land and oceans provide critical habitats for thousands of species, regulate our global climate systems, supply clean air and water, and maintain critical food-supply chains. In the United States, this biological crisis threatens the economy as well. For example, the outdoor recreation industry is directly affected by decreasing habitats and natural land.

Prominent scientists from around the globe have called on nations to conserve 30% of land and ocean by 2030 to avoid future and lasting loss to nature. The 30×30 goal has drawn strong commitment from the international community and the introduction of legislation from multiple states including New YorkCaliforniaSouth Carolina, and Hawaii. But, the implementation of a national 30×30 plan by the United States remains one of the most promising ways to reach this goal by 2030. 

The need for a concerted federal effort to achieve 30×30, led over 400 state and local officials from 43 states to sign a letter requesting the United States Congress to pass 30×30 legislation. In response to the many calls from environmental advocates and experts, the new Administration took an important first step on January 27 with an executive order stating the goal of the United States to conserve 30% of its land and ocean over the next 10 years. 

With this executive order comes not only the opportunity to protect our country’s biodiversity, necessary for foodclean water, and energy security, but also the chance to do so in an equitable and inclusive manner. Through implementing a national 30×30 plan via joint efforts with local and state leaders, private landowners, Tribal Nations, and rural communities, the country can work towards preserving our invaluable natural resources, while ensuring expanded access to nature for all. 

With such an expansive and ambitious goal set at the national level, states will remain a crucial partner as the federal government considers ways to adopt 30×30. Actions at the state level can serve as models and help expand conservation goals at the national level. States will continue to pursue efforts to protect 30×30. To track efforts in your state, visit ncel.net/30×30.