Protecting Biodiversity: Nature Positive by 2030

by Virginia Raffaeli

As was recently recalled during COP26, climate change is responsible for a growing percentage of biodiversity loss. However, the vast majority, circa 85%, is caused by other drivers – the most significant being land, sea and ocean use conversion [1].

In 2020, at the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, political leaders representing 93 countries from all continents and the EU, committed to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 [2]. The last few decades and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have indeed demonstrated that global biodiversity and nature are in crisis, and this crisis is placing human and planetary health at risk [3, 4]. In order to halt and reverse this critical process, many argued that society must become “nature positive” [5].

Becoming “nature positive”

Despite the fact that climate change has been at the centre of global pledges for the last thirty years, the protection of biodiversity, which is closely connected to it, has not [5]. Since it brings together nearly 100 world leaders in recognising the urgency of reversing biodiversity loss, the 2020 Leaders Pledge for Nature is a particularly important step forward in the recognition of the importance of protecting biodiversity [2]. Importantly, in 2021, the goal of the pledge was endorsed by the G7, whose leaders recently announced that “our world must not only become net zero, but also nature positive, for the benefit of both people and the planet” [6].

This statement by G7 leaders represents a real paradigm shift in how we view our relationship with nature and the urgency to not only reduce our impact on the environment we live in, but also to enhance the resilience of our planet and our societies [5]. By becoming “nature positive” humanity would enrich biodiversity while simultaneously storing carbon, purifying water and reducing pandemic risk [5].

A Global Goal for Nature

In order to become “nature positive” and thereby achieve the aim of the Leaders Pledge for Nature, we must identify relevant, actionable targets that capture the complexity of nature and its harms [5]. Moreover, we must ensure that nature is treated as a global commons [5].

According to organisations such as the WWF or the World Economic Forum, we must therefore adopt a “global goal for nature” to complement the global climate target of 1.5°C of global warming [7, 5]. Indeed, we know that we are unlikely to reduce our emissions enough to achieve its goal if we safeguard natural carbon sinks and transform agriculture from one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases [5].

Where we must be careful, however, is not to create a system which enables companies to  rely on the concept of “net” targets to destroy nature in one place and “restore” it in another [5].

To avoid this risk of “greenwashing”, proponents of “nature positivity” argue that our global goal for nature must include: zero loss of nature from now onwards; nature positivity by 2030, and full recovery by 2050 [5].

One first step would be the protection of 30% of land and ocean by 2030 [8].

Unfortunately, despite the G7 commitments made in 2021, the October 2021 Biodiversity Conference in China did not result in a binding commitment to this global goal [6, 9].

COP’s Nature Day, on the contrary, had an extremely positive outcome for biodiversity protection, with 134 states committing to end land degradation and deforestation by 2030 [10]. This pledge covers 91% of forests globally and is, therefore, key to the nature positivity goal [10].

With COP26 reaffirming the interconnected nature of the climate and biodiversity crises, and the importance of preserving nature, there is hope that the nature positivity movement gains the necessary traction to become a reality.


[1] Khatri A., Waughray D.K.N. (2020). ‘A Blueprint for Business to Transition to a Nature Positive Future’. World Economic Forum (14 July 2020). URL: [Accessed 19 November 2021].
[2] United to Reverse Biodiversity Loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development. Leaders Pledge for Nature. URL: [Accessed 19 November 2021].
[3] A Global Goal for Nature: Nature Positive by 2030. Nature Positive. URL: [Accessed 19 November 2021].
[4] Lawler O.K. et al. (2021). ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Intricately Linked to Biodiversity Loss and Ecosystem Health’. The Lancet Planetary Health. 5(11): e841. URL: 
[5] Waughray D.K.N., Holdorf D.B., Rodriguez Echandi C.M., Lambertini M., Ishii N. Rockström J., Topping N. (2021). ‘What is “Nature Positive” and Why Is It the Key to Our Future?’. World Economic Forum. (23 June 2021). URL: [Accessed 19 November 2021].
[6] G7 (2021). ‘G7 2030 Nature Compact’. June 2021: 1. URL: [Accessed 12 January 2022].
[7] WWF International (2020). ‘Nature Positive by 2030’. WWF International: 2. URL: [Accessed 26 November 2021].
[8] Gibbens S. (2021). ‘The U.S. Commits to Tripling Its Protected Lands. Here’s How It Could Be Done’. National Geographic (28 January 2021). URL: [Accessed 26 November 2021].
[9] IUCN. ‘IUCN Closing Statement – Part One of the UN Biodiversity Conference’. 18 October 2021. URL: [Accessed 12 January 2022].
[10] UNFCCC (2021). ‘Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use’. 2 November 2021. URL: [Accessed 12 January 2022].
[11] UNFCCC (2021). ‘Pivotal Progress Made on Sustainable Forest Management and Conservation’. 10 November 2021. URL: [Accessed 12 January 2022].
Categories Biodiversity

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