Global Effort Builds on President Biden’s America the Beautiful Initiative

DUBAI – At a United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) Presidency Roundtable on December 10th, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory announced that the United States is joining the Freshwater Challenge, the largest-ever global initiative to restore degraded rivers, lakes, and wetlands, which are central to tackling the world’s intertwined water, climate, and nature crises.

In alignment with President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative which sets a goal to conserve and restore at least 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters by 2030, the Freshwater Challenge aims to support, integrate, and accelerate the restoration of 300,000 km of degraded rivers globally – equivalent to more than seven times the distance around the Earth. Additionally, the Freshwater Challenge aims to restore approximately 864,870,000 million acres of degraded wetlands by 2030, an area larger than India, as well as to conserve intact ecosystems.

“We know the climate is changing both more rapidly and sooner than predicted. Meanwhile, we are losing nature at a catastrophic and accelerating rate. Freshwater ecosystems are at the top of the endangered list, and the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic steps to restore our ecosystems,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory during her remarks at the United Nations Ministerial Event. “The United States welcomes this opportunity to expand our efforts with other countries and organizations.”

The United States was among 37 new member countries unveiled at the “Ministerial Roundtable on Protection and Restoration of Freshwater Ecosystems” event at COP28 in Dubai. These countries joined six others that launched the initiative at the U.N. 2023 Water Conference in New York. Video is available here.

Healthy freshwater ecosystems are critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Last month in Arizona, Chair Mallory outlined the Biden-Harris Administration’s vision for a clean water future in the U.S. and highlighted how President Biden is delivering on the most ambitious clean water agenda in our nation’s history, despite the Supreme Court’s disappointing Sackett v. EPA decision that rolled back important clean water protections.

Since taking office, President Biden has delivered on the most ambitious climate, clean energy, conservation, and environmental justice agenda in history – signing into law the largest investment in climate action ever, protecting more than 26 million acres of lands and waters, and advancing the Justice40 Initiative.  Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, over his first two years alone, President Biden invested over $10 billion in domestic conservation initiatives.


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