Press Release

Leaders' Pledge for Nature: World leaders commit to reversing nature loss by 2030

September 28, 2020

Drone shot of forest meeting water
Photo: ver0nicka/Shutterstock

“We can no longer accept the devastating wildfires, extreme weather, species loss, and disease outbreaks that are afflicting our planet.  We must take the necessary steps to secure a sustainable future with resilience and protecting nature at its heart.”

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility

Watch Carlos Manuel Rodriguez speak at the Leaders Event.

More than 60 Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of five of the world’s largest economies, endorse the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, committing to decisive action on nature to protect human and planetary health. Following is a press release issued by WWF:

Heads of State and Government from 64 countries, spanning five continents, and the President of the European Commission for the European Union, have today committed to reverse nature loss by the end of the decade. Countries endorsing the pledge represent more than 1.3 billion people and more than a quarter of global GDP1.

The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development sees leaders pledging to undertake urgent actions over the next ten years as part of the UN Decade of Action to achieve Sustainable Development. It 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 Pledge, which will be officially launched at the Leaders Event for Nature and People today, part of the Nature For Life Hub, is a direct response to our escalating Planetary Emergency, and the need for urgent and immediate global action to address our interdependent biodiversity, climate and health crises. A number of non-state actors** are also supporting it.

Endorsers of the pledge* include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Fiji, Germany, Kenya, Seychelles, Mexico and the UK, amongst others.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said:

“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.”

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 Pledge highlights that this accelerating crisis is causing irreversible harm to our life support systems, aggravating poverty and inequalities, increasing risk of future zoonotic pandemics and contributing significantly to climate change. The rising costs to societies and the economy require biodiversity loss to be halted and reversed with urgency, if we want to achieve our climate objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Key commitments in the pledge include:

Taking urgent actions now to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for sustainable development; including:

  1. The development and full implementation of an ambitious and transformational post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted in Kunming, China, next year;
  2. Transitioning to sustainable patterns of production and consumption and sustainable food systems that meet people’s needs while remaining within planetary boundaries. Including by switching to deforestation-free regenerative agriculture;
  3. Reducing pollution on land and in the air, including eliminating ocean plastic waste;
  4. Sustainably managing our ocean and conclude the negotiations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
  5. A green and just response to the current health and economic crisis, integrating a One Health* approach and putting biodiversity, climate and the environment as a whole at the heart of recovery strategies, investments and decisions and actions across the whole of government;
  6. Investing more money in biodiversity and nature-based solutions and also committing to eliminating or repurposing harmful investments and subsidies and aligning financial flows to environmental commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve the wellbeing of people and safeguard the planet.

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 Leaders’ Pledge for Nature comes less than two weeks after the release of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, 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, agreeing a global goal for nature and new biodiversity targets, is due to be adopted in Kunming, China, under the UN Biodiversity Convention next year.

Comments:

Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Elizabeth Mrema said: ''Heads of Government and Heads of State have sent a strong message in their support for the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature.
“The urgency, unity and ambition of the pledge, to halt and reverse unprecedented rate of nature loss, is an inspirational contribution to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to be adopted at the next Conference of the Parties to the Convention in Kunming, China.''

Co-President, Club of Rome, Sandrine Dixson-Declève said: “In order to build resilience to future health pandemics, climate change and biodiversity loss, we need to ensure that we create equitable and fair societies, shift away from fossil energy, put nature back at the core of our societies and bring in regenerative and circular economic thinking throughout our material use. The fact is, people-planet-prosperity has to be at the core of our planning if we wish to truly emerge from emergency and bounce forward stronger.”

Jennifer Morris, Chief Executive Officer, The Nature Conservancy, said: “For too long, we have woefully under-valued and under-invested in nature. This pledge is a shared commitment to action from leaders across sectors and governments to center nature in economic plans, including stimulus recovery efforts. Our research shows that we need to spend an additional $600-$800 billion annually to reverse the biodiversity crisis—and that governments can pave the way with the right policies, regulations, and incentives.  By combining political will and hard numbers, we can shift to a nature-positive world, address the climate emergency, and build a future where people and nature thrive together.”

Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Earth Commission co-chair, said: “I welcome the Heads of State Declaration. Two major reports published this month conclude we are utterly failing to protect the diversity of life on Earth. We are failing to protect the resilience of our global commons. And we are failing to ensure a stable planet for future generations. This is a planetary emergency. But it is also a transformative moment for humanity. I urge political leaders not to waste it.”

Elise Buckle, Planetary Emergency Partnership Facilitator, President of Climate & Sustainability, Strategic Advisor to the UN: “We are facing a planetary emergency and a triple crisis for climate, people and nature. Now is the moment to reset our global economy, and embark on a new journey for a green, healthy and just recovery for people and the planet. The Pledge for Nature adopted by Heads of States is a major political milestone; it is a strong collective signal demonstrating that the current state of emergency is now being taken seriously by world leaders. The goal will be to keep growing the number of countries to raise ambition in the lead up to the CBD COP15 and the UNFCCC COP26 next year. We are calling on all Governments, the United Nations and all stakeholders to join this collective effort, as custodians and as one team, to protect and fortify our Planet- the only Home we have.”

Notes to editors:

The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development will be launched officially at the ‘Leaders Event for Nature and People: A global response to our planetary emergency - protecting our safety net’. This virtual event, which forms part of the Nature For Life Hub, takes place 09:00-10:30am New York time on Monday 28 September 2020. The event will include statements from more than 20 Heads of State and Government and a live Heads of State and Government discussion between H.E. Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica; H.E. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; H.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; and Mr. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

To watch live, visit this page.

  • *Endorsers of the pledge (65 in total) are as follows: Andorra, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, EU, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Moldova, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom.
  • The pledge, which is open to further endorsers, will be available at this link.
  • 1Population and GDP percentages calculated based on the following data: (https://population.un.org/wpp/Download/SpecialAggregates/Geographical/), and (www.worldometers.info).
  • WWF, as a non-state actor, has supported this member-state led Leaders’ Pledge for Nature.
  • **Non-state actors supporting the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature include: GEF, World Health Organization, International Chamber of Commerce, FaithInvest, Danone, WWF, Climate & Sustainability, Incitare International, OS-Climate, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, Global Choices, Conservation International, FacingFuture.Earth , Capitals Coalition, BirdLife International, Care International, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, The Nature Conservancy, CEDENMA, The Planetary Emergency Partnership, Wildlife & Countryside Link, World Resources Institute (WRI), TreeSisters.
  • Event co-hosts: AOSIS, Belize, Bhutan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Finland, Kenya, Seychelles, UK, EU & Partners: UNEP, WWF, UNDP, Global Commons Alliance, Planetary Emergency Partnership.
  • The Nature For Life Hub is a joint effort from more than 40 organizations and institutions including WWF, coordinated by UNDP.
  • The UN Summit on Biodiversity is due to take place on Wednesday 30 September 2020. For the first time ever, more than 116 Heads of State and Government have requested to speak at the Summit, marking the high level fora as a historic moment for biodiversity.
  • *'One Health' is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. It brings together the expertise across public health, animal health, plant health and the environment. 

WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million followers and a global network active in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources; follow us on Twitter @WWF_media

This press release was originally published by WWF.

For further information, contact: news@wwfint.org.