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National Coalition Launches Community- and Equity-Driven '30x30' Agenda for Nature

The 150-member America the Beautiful for All Coalition brings diverse experiences and perspectives to the frontline fight to save 30 percent of US land, fresh water and ocean by 2030.

On the anniversary of the Biden Administration’s ambitious ‘America the Beautiful’ initiative to protect 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 (ATB4All) 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 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.

In a 2022 Golin study, a large percentage of US adults asserted that effective climate-action strategies must simultaneously address environmental-justice issues. For years, data have proven the disproportionate impact of climate change and pollution on low-income and BIPOC communities. Black Americans are 75 percent more likely than white people to live in areas near commercial facilities that produce noise, odor, traffic or emissions that directly affect that community. It’s also more likely that people of color live near toxic refineries or chemical plants — where they experience higher levels of exposure to toxins that result in higher rates of heart disease, cancer and asthma.

A growing number of corporate efforts are attempting to help bolster the health and wellbeing of these traditionally underserved communities by increasing tree equity and access to nature and sport in dense urban areas; but federal action to clean up and protect nature across the country is needed.

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The ATB4All agenda is structured around 20 policy recommendations developed collaboratively to make major progress towards climate, conservation and equity goals in the US, 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

  • 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 climate solutions and distribute funding to frontline communities

"We pulled up more seats to the table and came together to convene the America the Beautiful for All Coalition 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 percent of US land and water by 2030 and ensuring at least 40 percent 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 wellbeing 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 Executive Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network. “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.”

At the recent COP15 summit in Montreal, nearly 200 countries signed on to the Convention on Biological Diversity, a commitment to ramp up biodiversity protection — including global targets to restore 30 percent of degraded ecosystems on land and sea by 2030 and conserve 30 percent of terrestrial, inland water and coastal and marine areas by 2030. While the US is conspicuously absent from the world due to political opposition in Congress, President Biden made bold commitments upon taking office to participate in the global ‘30x30’ effort. The ATB4All 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.

“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,” said Pat Gonzales-Rogers, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Yale Center for Environmental Justice. These resource-management configurations are directly related to the extension and recognition of 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.”

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 30x30 goals; and answer questions for new partners, policymakers and journalists.