Over the past two years, an extraordinary global campaign has emerged to protect 30 percent of Earth’s total surface from human exploitation by 2030. The members of this so-called 30×30 coalition, which now includes scores of governments, understand that climate change is only one half of the planet’s environmental crisis. The Paris Agreement, while imperative to curb greenhouse gas emissions, will do little by itself to save the planet’s collapsing biodiversity or preserve the massive ecosystems upon which humanity depends—and which we are fast degrading.

In April 2019, a group of 19 prominent scientists ignited international interest in the 30×30 proposal when they made it the centerpiece of a proposed “Global Deal for Nature.” The idea quickly took off among governments and within civil society. In September of that year, Costa Rica and several other nations announced they would form a “coalition for…

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