Highlighting U.S. Efforts to Combat the Biodiversity Crisis
U.S. Efforts to Combat the Biodiversity Crisis
Office of the Spokesperson
December 15, 2022
The United States is committed to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity globally. The global decline of nature represents an existential threat to livelihoods, food systems, and health. As countries meet in Montreal, Canada, at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United States reiterates its support for an ambitious and transformative Global Biodiversity Framework that enables biodiversity to thrive – and with it all life and livelihoods.
The United States is engaged globally and at home to support efforts to conserve, protect, connect, and restore nature, leading to healthy ecosystems, healthy people, and healthy economies. The United States has committed significant financial investment towards the first national conservation goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030, including the America the Beautiful Challenge – a $1 billion public-private partnership that offers a one-stop shop to support ecosystem restoration projects that invest in watershed restoration, resilience, equitable access to nature, workforce development, corridors and connectivity, and collaborative conservation, consistent with the America the Beautiful initiative. This initiative is a decade-long challenge to pursue a locally led and voluntary nationwide effort to conserve, connect, and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife upon which we all depend.
Taking an all-of-government approach, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Department of Transportation are coordinating on a $2 billion partnership for fish passage and culvert removal to promote the healthy functioning of our streams, rivers and aquatic ecosystems.
Internationally, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the conservation of wildlife and critical ecosystems in over 60 countries. In 2021, USAID invested $319.5 million to conserve biodiversity, reduce wildlife trafficking and other nature crimes, and support the resilience of vulnerable and marginalized communities who depend on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems for food, jobs, and security. USAID’s biodiversity conservation activities support objectives within USAID’s new Climate Strategy, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon storage by improving forest conservation and management, conserving coral reefs and mangroves, and driving innovative technologies.
Additional efforts to advance progress towards combating the biodiversity crisis include:
United States Leadership on Mainstreaming and Conserving Nature
- Conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. Lands and Waters by 2030: In May 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration launched the America the Beautiful initiative, a decade-long effort to support locally led and voluntary conservation and restoration efforts across the country to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises as well as address inequitable access to nature. The initiative includes the first-ever national conservation goal for the United States to conserve at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 – a goal President Biden established when he entered office and signed Executive Order 14008 in Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Since that time, the United States has expanded administrative and legislative protections for our lands and waters. The United States continues to undertake significant conservation actions that support our national conservation goal, including protecting the Tongass National Forest; withdrawing oil and gas development from the broader Chaco Canyon Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from mineral development; designating the Connecticut National Estuarine Research reserve; expanding the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary; designating Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument; and restoring protections for Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
- Conserving Forests and Combatting Global Deforestation: On Earth Day 2022, President Biden signed Executive Order 14072 on Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities and Local Economies, which advances efforts to safeguard mature and old-growth forests on federal lands, as part of a science-based approach to reduce wildfire risk; strengthen reforestation partnerships across the country to support local economies and ensure the nation retains forest ecosystems and sustainable supplies of forest products for years to come; combat global deforestation; and enlist nature to address the climate crisis with comprehensive efforts to deploy nature-based solutions that reduce emissions and build resilience.
- Prioritizing Nature-based Solutions: At COP27, the Biden-Harris Administration released the Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, outlining strategic recommendations to put America on a path that will unlock the full potential of nature-based solutions to address climate change, nature loss, and inequity. This marks the first time the United States has developed an all-of-government strategy to mainstream and scale up nature-based solutions. An accompanying Nature-Based Solutions Resource Guide provides stories of how U.S. federal agencies have already used these solutions and provides technical guidance and tools. The Roadmap spurred additional actions by agencies to ensure recent funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act can support nature-based solutions.
- Incorporating Nature into National Economic Statistics and Accounts to Support Decision-making: The United States is developing a to put nature on our nation’s balance sheet – ensuring that the natural resources all Americans enjoy and depend on are accounted for and connected to the economic decisions that affect all American people.
- Recognizing and Including Indigenous Knowledge: At the White House Tribal Nations Summit, the Administration released new government-wide guidance and an accompanying implementation memorandum for Federal Agencies on recognizing and including Indigenous Knowledge in Federal research, policy, and decision making, including protections for the knowledge holders.
- Knowing Nature with a National Nature Assessment: This periodic assessment of nature will build on the wealth of existing data, scientific evidence, and Indigenous Knowledge to create a holistic picture of America’s lands, waters, wildlife, ecosystems and the benefits they provide to the U.S. economy, health, the climate, environmental justice, and national security. This information will enable us to identify opportunities for nature to help achieve our societal and economic goals. The framing of this first-of-its-kind assessment is currently open for public comment.
- Strengthening Action for Nature Deprived Communities: As part of the America the Beautiful initiative, federal agencies signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Promoting Equitable Access to Nature in Nature-Deprived Communities” by strengthening investments in communities who have been locked out of the benefits nature provides and by expanding access to local parks, tree canopy cover, conservation areas, open space and water-based recreation, public gardens, beaches, and waterways. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act will also supercharge these efforts with more than $12.4 billion in funds that can be accessed by nature-deprived communities to promote equitable access to parks and green and blue spaces.
- Conserving Arctic Ecosystems: The 2022 National Strategy for the Arctic Region affirms that rapidly changing environmental conditions and shifting fish and wildlife migration patterns are threatening the region’s endemic ecosystems, the livelihoods and food security of Arctic residents, and the traditional ways of life of the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. Comprehensive analyses presented in NOAA’s 2022 Arctic Report Card detail how the Arctic is heating up faster than any other part of the world, with profound impacts on wildlife abundance and migratory patterns, as well as the food security, wellbeing and cultural traditions of Indigenous people. As an Arctic nation, the United States has committed to increased research on marine ecosystems, fisheries, and wildlife, and to conserving and protecting Arctic ecosystems, including through co-production and co-management with Indigenous Peoples. With Executive Order 13754, the U.S. government is working in partnership with Indigenous communities represented through the Bering Intergovernmental Tribal Advisory Council to conserve the region’s ecosystem, including those natural resources that provide important food security to the people of the region.
Supporting Global Conservation Efforts and Combatting Drivers of Biodiversity Loss
The United States is leading efforts to reverse the decline in biodiversity globally by advancing conservation of lands and waters, combating drivers of nature loss, protecting species, and supporting sustainable use, while also enabling healthy and prosperous communities through sustainable development. The 2022 National Security Strategy makes clear that biodiversity loss is a wide-reaching crisis that also impacts governments’ abilities to meet basic human needs and contributes to policy, economic and social instability.
Supporting Species and Ecosystems
- Pledging $600 Million to Combat Global Environmental Threats: In April 2022, the United States pledged $600.8 million over the next four years to support the eighth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF-8). This is the United States’ largest GEF pledge ever. This pledge aligns with continuing U.S. priorities and supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing climate change, conserving global carbon sinks and other critical ecosystems, and restoring the health of our ocean, and addressing biodiversity loss. The United States joined 28 other donors in collectively pledging $5.33 billion to support GEF-8, a 31 percent increase over GEF-7. GEF-8 funding for the Biodiversity Focal Area increased significantly, totaling over $1.9 billion, a 49 percent increase over GEF-7.
- Working Bilaterally to Support Biodiversity Conservation: USAID’s international biodiversity programs, received over $319 million during FY 2021, which financed activities in more than 60 countries. USAID allocated approximately 56 percent of these funds to 13 countries and regions, including Indonesia, Colombia, Brazil, and the Central African Regional Program for the Environment. To combat wildlife trafficking, USAID invested over $55 million in FY 2021 funds to support the prevention or reduction of poaching and illegal trade in animals—including illegal fishing of freshwater and marine species. USAID’s comprehensive strategy strengthens law enforcement from parks to ports, reduces consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, and builds international cooperation. USAID invested $43.3 million in great ape conservation, including support for critical habitat for gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. USAID’s funding for biodiversity continues to grow with FY 2022 appropriated biodiversity funding set at $385 million. USAID’s forestry investments and activities promote the conservation and sustainable management of forests are part of the $9 billion pledge and partially supported through biodiversity funds. In FY 2021 these investments of biodiversity and sustainable landscape funds totaled $256.5 million in more than 50 countries, with $249.1 million focused on tropical forests. In addition, more than $32 million in other USAID funding indirectly contributed to biodiversity conservation. For example, funding streams for the protection of natural resources and the environment reduce emissions by combating deforestation and the degradation of woodlands; in addition, such programs manage and protect watersheds, fisheries, and mangrove forests.
- Combating Nature Crimes: Criminal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, and associated criminal activities, as well as crimes associated with fishing, threaten national security and the rule of law, fuel corruption, undermine economic prosperity, drive species to the brink of extinction, destroy ecosystems, and spread disease. The United States continues its leadership on combating wildlife and timber trafficking and illegal deforestation and enhancing investments to address biodiversity loss. Such actions include continued enforcement of the U.S. Lacey Act (2008) to combat illegal logging and associated trade, as well as building networks of law enforcement cooperation to build capacity. The United States is co-developing the new Nature Crime Alliance to expand partnerships with other countries and stakeholders to combat these criminal activities, address policy gaps and loopholes across sectors and raise the profile of crime convergence dedicating new agency resources for anti-corruption and law enforcement efforts; and continue efforts to strengthen and expand regional wildlife enforcement networks. Since 2010, the U.S. Department of State and USAID have allocated over $27 million to support implementation of the U.S. Lacey Act to prevent the import of illegally harvested forest products, including training of over 2,400 officials in 34 countries.
Advancing Marine Conservation and Supporting Resilient Ecosystems
- Ocean-Climate Action Plan: The United States is developing a first-ever whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan that will guide significant ocean-based climate mitigation and adaptation actions, including biodiversity conservation and protection, ecosystem restoration, zero-emission shipping, ocean-based renewable energy, blue carbon, and other ocean-related solutions. In addition, the interagency Ocean Policy Committee will develop a National Sustainable Ocean Plan that will help guide sustainable economic development of S. ocean and coastal waters.
- Enhancing Ocean Ambition: During the seventh Our Ocean Conference, the United States announced more than 110 commitments, from 14 agencies and offices, worth nearly $2.6 billion, to protect ocean health and security. These commitments spanned the issue areas of the conference, including climate change, sustainable fisheries, sustainable blue economies, marine protected areas, maritime security, and marine pollution.
- Ocean Conservation Pledge: During the seventh Our Ocean Conference in Palau, the United States announced the Ocean Conservation Pledge – an ambitious new effort encouraging countries to commit to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of ocean waters under their national jurisdiction by 2030. At COP27, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina announced the first cohort of 16 countries that have endorsed this pledge.
- High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel): At COP26, the United States announced it would join the Ocean Panel, a coalition of now 17 like-minded nations representing 50 percent of the world’s coastlines, 44 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zones, 26 percent of its fisheries, and 20 percent of its shipping fleets. This initiative is harnessing the power of the ocean to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide jobs and food security, improve climate resilience, and sustain biological diversity.
- Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA): During the seventh Our Ocean Conference in Palau, the United States announced $1 million to support ORRAA. Through this funding, the United States is supporting projects that help coastal communities improve their resilience to the impacts of climate change, including through the deployment of the Coastal Risk Index (CRI), which calculates and maps the protective benefits of mangroves and coral reefs for integrating the value of these coastal ecosystems into risk insurance models.
- IUU Fishing Action Alliance: Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens the health and biodiversity of our ocean and hurts coastal communities that depend on sustainably managed fisheries for food security and livelihoods. On the margins of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, the United States joined Canada and the United Kingdom to launch the IUU Fishing Action Alliance. Countries and non-state partners that join the Alliance pledge to take urgent action to improve the monitoring, control, and surveillance of fisheries, increase transparency in fishing fleets and in the seafood market, and build new partnerships that will close the net on bad actors.
Supporting Inclusive Conservation Efforts
- Working with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: Indigenous Peoples manage 25 percent of terrestrial land which intersects with 40 percent of the world’s protected areas and remaining intact ecosystems. Research has demonstrated that Indigenous Peoples are extremely effective at conserving biodiversity. USAID supports the leadership of Indigenous Peoples by contributing to the $1.7 billion Forest Tenure Pledge for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities which reported at COP27 that it already had $320 million from the 23 donors in the first of five years of the Pledge. USAID is also partnering with the Forest Stewardship Council and the FSC Indigenous Foundation to implement the 5-year, $20 million, Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance for Rights and Development program which works to amplify the voices of Indigenous leaders and provide capacity building and funding for Indigenous Peoples’ self-determined development needs. This year, the Department of State launched the Indigenous Peoples Finance Access Facility (IPFAF) with the goal of providing support to Indigenous Peoples groups around the world to directly access existing finance mechanisms, supporting their efforts to continue to conserve some of the most critical forests on earth.
- Supporting Environmental Defenders: Civil society support is crucial to achieving biodiversity goals, particularly the efforts of environmental defenders, who try peacefully to protect an area or natural resources from negative environmental impact. The United States actively monitors UN and NGO reports of increasing violence against environmental defenders and formed an interagency working group in 2017 to monitor this violence. The United States takes reports of killings and threats against all human rights defenders, including those exercising their human rights when working to protect the environment, seriously, and advocates for protection measures and access to justice, working with democratic partners, international and regional organizations, NGOs, business, and engaged citizens.
Promoting Healthy Communities and a Healthy Planet
- Promoting a One Health Approach and Combatting Zoonotic Disease: The United States is heavily engaged in global efforts to promote a One Health approach and address issues at the nexus of human, animal (wild and domestic), and environmental health, including climate sensitive diseases and zoonotic spillover. For example, via the Mekong-US Partnership, the U.S. Department of State has supported the Pathfinder Health Program and the Mekong One Health Innovation Partnership, which focused on One Health issues. Through the Embassy Science Fellows program, the Department has supported the development of a South America Network for One Health. Via the Arctic Council, the Department has led a decade-long effort to bolster circumpolar efforts to address emerging infectious disease and natural disasters in the Arctic region. USAID’s Global Health Security Program collaborates with partner countries to implement the One Health approach, supports One Health coordinating mechanisms and platforms to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging threats, and engages in other One Health activities to improve global health security. In addition, a long-running USAID partnership began a new phase focused on pandemic risk reduction in July 2020, working to strengthen the knowledge base, resolve and cooperation of governments, the private sector, IGOs and NGOs to address zoonotic disease risks associated with wildlife trade. The partnership’s analysis of the public health threat posed by particular species and trade practices is now informing policy discussions, business practices, supply chain management, and behavior change communications, to collectively reduce supply of and demand for risky wildlife products.
- Securing Water Resources: S. prosperity and national security are under rising pressure from the economic and social effects of water scarcity, extreme weather events and climate change, and water-driven ecological change in key geographies around the world. With increasing frequency, water-driven stresses are undermining economic productivity, weakening governance systems, and fraying social cohesion in many countries throughout the world. The Department of State is committed to realizing a water-secure world that advances health, prosperity, stability, and resilience through sustainable and equitable water resources management and access to safe drinking water, sanitation services, and hygiene. State and USAID revised and published a 5-year Global Water Strategy, a whole-of-government effort covering at least $1 billion in foreign assistance activities, with a strong focus on climate change, reducing conflict, and promoting cooperation.
Advancing Science-based Decision Making
- The United States is a strong supporter of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and was instrumental in its establishment in 2012. We are celebrating IPBES’ 10-year anniversary by reaffirming our commitment to advancing science and the role of science in decision-making. The United States has also worked in IPBES to advance the inclusion of indigenous peoples and local communities and incorporation, with their consent, of indigenous and local knowledge into the IPBES assessments.