UN Calls on Nations to Protect 30 Percent of Planet

A Bengal tiger in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India.

A Bengal tiger in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India. Soumyajit Nandy / Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations is calling for world governments to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030 in order to stop the rapid loss of biodiversity, restore ecosystem functions, and help stave off the worst impacts of climate change. At least 10 percent of this area — both land and ocean — should be placed under “strict protection,” according to the UN.

The proposal, created by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), also calls for a reduction in nutrient and plastic pollution by at least half over the next decade.

“If adopted, this target could achieve what our children have been calling on governments to do — listen to the science,” Enric Sala, explorer-in-residence at National Geographic and co-author of the Global Deal for Nature, said in a statement. “But this is the floor, not the ceiling. Now every government on earth must get behind this bold mission and drive through a global agreement for nature this year.”

Currently, just 15 percent of land and 7 percent of the oceans have protected status, InsideClimate News reported — just shy to the CBD’s 2020 targets of 17 percent and 10 percent, respectively. But scientists and environmentalists say getting to 30 percent worldwide will be a challenge. Some 187 countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention since 1992. The United States signed the agreement, but has not yet ratified it.

The new 2030 proposal will be voted on by member nations during an October summit of the Convention in China.