On the anniversary of the Biden Administration’s ambitious call to save 30 percent of land, fresh water and ocean in the United States by 2030, a one-of-a-kind coalition has released its policy agenda to achieve continental-scale conservation by embracing equitably-distributed funding and community-led policies and projects. The America the Beautiful for All Coalition is the largest and most diverse coalition ever assembled for the most ambitious land and water conservation goal ever set in the United States.
The Coalition consists of 150 organizations working collectively to thwart the rapidly advancing impacts of the climate crisis and stem the loss of biodiversity, while simultaneously improving equitable access to nature’s benefits and prioritizing the leadership of frontline and communities of color. Member organizations range in focus from urban parks and greenspace, Indigenous rights, public lands protection, public health, wildlife, outdoor recreation and fresh water and ocean conservation — all representative of identities and issue areas that have traditionally been underrepresented in conservation decision-making tables in the United States.
The agenda is structured around 20 policy recommendations developed collaboratively to make major progress towards climate, conservation and equity goals in the U.S., including:
- Better connecting underserved and marginalized communities with historic levels of conservation and climate funding.
Increasing opportunities for co-management and co-stewardship of public lands and waters with Tribes, Native Hawaiians, Alaska Natives and Territories
- Advancing community-led efforts to protect significant lands and waters and making these designations more effectively managed and implemented
- Improving access to open space and public lands in statistically nature-deprived communities which are predominantly frontline and communities of color
- Phasing out onshore and offshore drilling and supporting the just transition to renewable energy that centers on communities and protects nature
- Modernizing management processes to restore a balance of uses on public lands and waters, and make conservation a priority
- Strengthening programs that benefit clean water and disaster planning to prioritize nature-based solutions to climate impacts and distribute funding to frontline communities.
On February 1 at 3:00pm ET, the coalition will host a webinar to outline the inaugural policy agenda, discuss where work is already underway to bring meaningful, community-driven progress on 30×30 goals and answer questions for new partners, policymakers and journalists. Register today.
“We pulled up more seats to the table and came together to convene the America the Beautiful for All Coalition (ATB4All) so that our conservation policy priorities originate from and center the most impacted communities on the frontlines of biodiversity loss, climate disaster, and nature deprivation.” said Mark Magaña, Coalition Co-Chair and Founding President and CEO of GreenLatinos. “Our first policy agenda is the most comprehensive and diverse conservation priority list, ready for the Biden Administration to act on now. This agenda will go a long way toward achieving our twin goals of preserving 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030 and ensuring at least 40% of conservation investments are made in frontline communities and communities of color. For decades environmental and climate justice leaders have asserted that until people are no longer regarded as disposable, nature will be sacrificed. The ATB4All policy agenda is an evolution of the conservation movement taking this warning to heart—that we must prioritize the well-being of communities who have been overlooked and oppressed in order to successfully battle the greatest crisis of our lives together.”
A core metric of the coalition is Justice40, which will ensure at least 40 percent of America the Beautiful Initiative investments are made for and with communities of color and frontline communities that have historically seen underinvestment in conservation and equitable access to nature.
“All too often the most vulnerable of us, especially those forced to live in burdened, marginalized, and compromised communities, are alienated from the opportunity to enjoy, experience and live among waterways and lands that are healthy and safe,” said Nse Witherspoon, Coalition Co-Chair and Children’s Environmental Health Network Executive Director. “Our children are watching our collective actions and inactions closely. The America the Beautiful for All Coalition is a genuine effort to connect our glaring equity, public health and environmental protection needs with a robust and urgent policy agenda that puts protection first.” (See additional steering committee reactions to the policy agenda below.)
At the recent COP15 summit in Montreal, nearly 200 countries made commitments to ramp up biodiversity protection including global targets to restore 30% of degraded ecosystems on land and sea by 2030 and conserve 30% of terrestrial, inland water and coastal and marine areas by 2030.
While the United States is conspicuously absent from the world Convention on Biological Diversity due to political opposition in Congress, President Biden made bold commitments upon taking office to participate in the global ‘30×30’ effort. Today’s agenda outlines high-level goals for protecting land, fresh water and oceans and supporting equitable access to nature’s benefits while leaving ample room for organizations and their partners to devise how to reach the targets locally.
The America the Beautiful for All Coalition consists of 150 organizations working to conserve 30 percent of land, water, and ocean by 2030 to avoid massive species loss, secure equitable access to nature’s benefits, and prevent and repair the impacts of the climate crisis for all communities, while ensuring at least 40 percent of conservation investments support communities of color and frontline communities that have historically seen underinvestment in conservation and equitable access to nature.
Coalition Steering Committee Reactions to the Agenda
Earthjustice President Abigail Dillen said, “The specter of mass extinctions and wholesale collapse of ecosystems is staring us down as unrestrained extraction, development and pollution threaten to unravel our web of life. Earthjustice is proud to be part of this crucial effort to drive policy that will put us on a new path to protect and restore our lands and waters and the natural world that sustains us and all other species. We are excited to be linking arms with our colleagues today to advance the most ambitious conservation goal ever set in the United States.” (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams said, “Our own public health is directly tied to the health of the natural world—no matter where we live, work or play—and many feel the burdens of pollution and climate impacts more than others. We have a moral and ethical imperative to support the natural systems that essentially keep every single one of us alive. We cannot do that if only some of us are represented in how we solve these existential problems. The Wilderness Society stands with our partners in devising equitable, lasting solutions that will pass a thriving planet on to the next generation.” (Contact: email@example.com)
Justice Outside President Kim Moore Bailey said, “There is so much hope and potential in the America the Beautiful for All Coalition and the policy agenda that has been proposed. The agenda lays the groundwork for imagining a future that is not only possible, but also, ethical, centering the voices, strengths and needs of those in our communities who are most impacted by inequity and systemic barriers to accessing resources. Justice Outside is proud to be a part of this work.” (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Continental Divide Trail Coalition Executive Director Teresa Martinez said, “The policy agenda is built from diverse communities experiencing the impacts of nature loss and climate change close to home. Countless local projects can be knit together to create shared national outcomes for 30×30. That diversity enables the coalition to be creative in devising conservation strategies and solving problems equitably that connect with underserved communities, so that everyone benefits from healthy nature and clean environment right where they live.” (Contact: email@example.com)
International Union for the Conservation of Nature North America Regional Director Tracy Farrell said, “Sustaining life on earth requires the conservation and protection of nature in a way that equalizes access to it. In launching the America the Beautiful initiative, the US made a strong commitment to not only protecting biodiversity, but also, toward promoting access to the outdoors for all. IUCN is dedicated to ensuring that both the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ counts are part of 30×30 planning. If we are to realize a biodiversity-rich future that we can all enjoy, we must pursue 30×30’s twin commitments even if ambitious and challenging to implement.”
Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Yale Center for Environmental Justice Pat Gonzales-Rogers said, “In 2021, a Joint Secretarial Order instructed federal agencies to integrate Tribal perspectives when making significant policy decisions about public land, water and wildlife, giving rise to what we now know as co-management, co-stewardship and collaborative management. These resource management configurations are directly related to the extension and recognition tribal sovereignty, acknowledge tribes as the original stewards of successful and sustainable land management practices, build a bridge between traditional knowledge and current science, and represent a real time environmental justice dynamic that corrects many of the mistakes and oversights of the modern conservation movement. This coalition’s policy agenda ensures that these management configurations are considered and provides the strength for their implementation.” (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)