Ella Clarke, Presidential Management Fellow
Eli Fenichel, Assistant Director for Natural Resource Economics and Accounting
Heather Tallis, Assistant Director for Biodiversity and Conservation Sciences
Jane Lubchenco, Deputy Director for Climate and Environment
Earth is not Earth without nature. And there are no equitable and prosperous communities without nature. The clear and increasing need to defend communities against the accelerating impacts of climate change and nature loss cannot be met efficiently and effectively without nature’s abilities to sequester carbon, reduce floods, cool the air, clean water, reduce drought, and dampen fires. That’s why President Biden set ambitious goals for the United States to cut its emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels and conserve 30% of the lands and waters by 2030. And that’s why we’re doing even more to know, grow, and account for nature – putting nature on our national balance sheet, making economy-wide investments in nature, and better understanding our country’s natural wealth – at home and abroad.
These are the messages we will take to the 15th United Nations Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) which starts this week in Montreal, Canada. The United States joins countries from around the world to raise ambition, build collaborative partnerships, and craft innovative and evidence-based solutions that connect the dots among nature, climate change, economic prosperity, and equity. Bold ambition is needed to reverse biodiversity and nature loss and achieve net gains in natural capital wealth by 2030.
COP15 reminds us that international collaboration is essential to address global problems – what happens in one country does not stay there; others’ efforts to tackle nature loss, climate change, and inequities impact Americans and vice versa. Our ability to tackle this triple crisis is far more powerful when we work together, and base our actions on knowledge and evidence. That is why, on December 5th, the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, participated in an international call-to-action with advisors from 26 other countries and organizations signing a COP15 International Science Advisors Statement. The Statement calls on governments at COP15 to:
- Commit to the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and take immediate action to protect, conserve and restore terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems; to use them sustainably, and to promote the integration of natural capital and ecosystem services into national economic accounting systems;
- Invest in actions that benefit biodiversity in ways that can also address the drivers of climate change and help communities adapt to its impacts;
- Implement mechanisms for biodiversity monitoring that can help advance transparency, fill critical data gaps, and ensure that human welfare and reducing biodiversity loss go hand in hand;
- Foster innovation and investment in nature-based solutions using diverse knowledge systems, including Indigenous-led or community-based solutions; and
- Engage the public through inclusive partnerships that raise public understanding of nature’s values and the global biodiversity crisis, with particular focus on children and young adults.
Realizing that a common vision requires action, the United States seeks to embed nature and climate in decision-making. At COP15, the United States is engaging in actions and initiatives that advance global partnerships to embed nature, biodiversity, and climate in government planning and decision making. The actions we plan to share include the following:
The United States is putting nature on the national balance sheet. In August, the Federal Government published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive draft National Strategy to Develop Statistics for Environmental-Economic Decisions to reflect natural assets on America’s balance sheet. The final strategy will reflect very helpful global public feedback we’re receiving and is on track for release in early 2023. At COP15, we will continue working with international partners to advance natural capital accounting, because a nature-positive world requires accounting for natural capital wealth and using that evidence in economic forecasting, business planning, and Federal decision making.
The Biden-Harris Administration is making economy-wide investments in nature. The Administration has charted a path for unlocking and scaling up the full potential of nature-based solutions – investments in nature that benefit people and the planet – to fight climate change and stem nature loss. Last month, the White House released the Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, the first-ever United States strategy to expand the use of nature-based solutions, along with a companion Resource Guide with examples of nature-based solutions and over 175 resources to spur action. At COP15, OSTP and other Federal colleagues will work to encourage other nations to join the United States in taking bold action to increase investments in nature and its many benefits.
The Biden-Harris Administration is embracing Indigenous Knowledge as critical evidence. Many of the most biodiverse areas of the world are effectively managed by Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Knowledge, voluntarily shared, has advanced some of the most effective nature-based solutions for many of today’s major challenges.Recognizing the importance of Indigenous Knowledge to Federal decisions that can reverse the trend of nature loss and address other major challenges, The White House released the United States’ first-ever Indigenous Knowledge Guidance at the Tribal Nations Summit on December 1, 2022. This guidance provides valuable direction on recognizing and including Indigenous Knowledge in Federal research, policy, and decision making. OSTP will be working closely with partners at COP15 to ensure that evidence-based targets include the important contributions of Indigenous Knowledge.
In short, there is no pathway to a prosperous, net zero, and equitable future without nature. OSTP is proud to advance strong, strategic, and collaborative international partnerships to achieve our ambitious biodiversity, climate, and equity goals.