WASHINGTON (January 27, 2021)—President Biden signed sweeping Executive Orders to address climate change, protect biodiversity, improve environmental justice and create clean energy jobs across America. As a science-based, data-driven organization, WRI is encouraged to see a return to scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking.

The announcements include a significant new commitment to protect at least 30% of U.S. lands and ocean by 2030.

Following is a statement from Dr. Charles Barber, Senior Biodiversity Advisor, WRI:

“Our forests, lakes, coasts and ocean are a critical part of our planet’s ‘operating system’ and protecting these natural ecosystems is essential for us now and for future generations. President Biden’s commitment to effectively protect 30% of U.S. lands and sea by 2030 is a bold step that will help ensure our natural resources continue to contribute to the welfare of the American people. Protecting our coastal ecosystems and old growth forests will build our resilience to the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. America’s national parks and reserve systems need to be strengthened and expanded. Achieving the 30% goal will require unprecedented cooperation with states, private landowners and in particular Native American tribal governments and stakeholders.

“The Biden administration’s 30×30 commitment is not just good for America, but also provides U.S. leadership on the international stage. It shows that 30×30 – a target already adopted by many other governments – is a floor and not a ceiling for the increase in ambition that is so desperately needed if we are to effectively tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Following is a statement from Kristian Teleki, Director, Sustainable Ocean Initiative, WRI:

“The ocean provides people with indispensable benefits every day – from the air we breathe and millions of jobs, to renewable energy and nutritious food. For the ocean to continue to provide benefits to humanity, it needs to be protected, and currently less than 8% of the ocean is protected. Leading by example, in December 2020 the 14 countries of the Ocean Panel committed to sustainably manage 100% of their national waters and to support a global target of protecting 30% of the ocean.

“President Biden’s commitment to 30×30 raises the bar for protection of one of the world’s most critical resources – the ocean – which will benefit people, nature and the economy. To achieve this important milestone, the Biden administration should significantly strengthen protection of existing marine conservation areas, including expansion of “no-take zones”, prohibit offshore oil development and more effectively regulate shipping to reduce pollution.”