UN calls for 30 per cent of oceans and land to be protected by 2030

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has published a draft proposal for its post-2020 biodiversity framework, setting out a commitment for 30 per cent of the world’s oceans and land to be granted protected status by 2030.

An image of the Great Barrier Reef
An image of the Great Barrier Reef

Image: Wise Hok Wai Lum // CC BY-SA 4.0

Imogen Benson

Ahead of October’s biodiversity summit in Kunming, China, the ‘zero draft’ proposal for the UN’s post-2020 biodiversity framework has set out a ten-year strategy to reverse the deterioration of ecosystems and wildlife, proposing that 30 per cent of the world’s oceans and land should be protected by 2030.

The draft proposal, published on Monday (13 January) by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), outlines 20 action-oriented targets to halt mass extinction and restore biodiversity by 2030. In addition to protecting 30 per cent of the planet, with at least 10 per cent granted strict protection status, the draft proposal includes plans to ensure that all harvesting, trade and use of wild species is legal and at sustainable levels, and for pollution from excess nutrients, biocides and plastic waste to be cut by 50 per cent by 2030.

Several of the targets are centred around human health and wellbeing, with the draft proposal calling for enhanced nutrition, food security and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable, and to increase the proportion of people with access to green spaces. 

The text proposes that economic sectors should be reformed towards sustainable practices, achieving a reduction of at least 50 per cent in negative impacts on biodiversity by 2030. The draft plan also calls for biodiversity values to be mainstreamed and integrated into both national and local planning, development processes and poverty reduction strategies, encouraging indigenous people and local communities to participate in decision-making.

Commenting on the news, Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, said: “It is good to see the UN setting an ambitious target to avoid the ecological destruction of our planet.

“It is important though to see this target only as the starting point of a global effort for the conservation and restoration of ecosystems and wildlife.

“When it comes to preserving our planet no target is ambitious enough. We need to keep building the international coalitions necessary to make these targets effective.

“As part of this we need to introduce an international law on ecocide – making it a crime for business or governments to destroy our planet.”

Calling for further action, Paul de Zylva, Nature Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, explained: “30 per cent of the planet might be eye-catching, but it’s just not enough. There’s a delicate link between species, habitats and ecosystems across the world – failing to protect one can cause a wider collapse of life.”

The proposed framework, which is expected to be adopted at the Kunming Summit, comes after countries failed to meet most of the UN’s previous biodiversity targets set in Aichi, Japan in 2010.

With a goal of 2020, the Aichi Targets had called for the safeguarding of biodiversity, including by halving the rate of loss of all natural habitats, preventing the extinction of known threatened species and bringing pollution to levels that are not detrimental to the ecosystem function and biodiversity.

You can read the ‘zero draft’ text on the UN CBD website.