By Chris Morrill, Executive Director
The California Natural Resources Agency held its annual 30 by 30 Partnership Conference this month in Riverside. 30 by 30 is intended to help accelerate conservation of our lands and coastal waters through voluntary, collaborative action with partners across the state to meet three objectives: conserve and restore biodiversity, expand access to nature, and mitigate and build resilience to climate change.
The event this month united activists from all over the state, with the majority hailing from Los Angeles, the desert, and farther south. I was fortunate to attend and celebrate the completion of my year on the Partnership Coordinating Committee with my fellow members.
The original Executive Order by Governor Newsom in October 2020 set the table for our work over the last three years. The conference highlighted how much California is leading the world forward in conservation. Brian O’Donnell, the head of the Campaign for Nature, gave the keynote address. He had a significant role in developing the U.N. agreement codifying 30×30 by hundreds of countries. Brian mentioned how much we’re doing in California and how our work reverberates up to Sacramento, then to Washington, DC, and all the way to New York and the U.N.
California’s conservation work showing what’s possible
When you’re in the day-to-day grind, it can be hard to see how all this work adds up. Multi-year land management plans, community organizing to build national monument campaigns, and decades-long legislative battles. These efforts are essential in protecting particular areas in the places that we love. But how does it stack up in the context of the biodiversity crisis and climate change? Brian highlighted that our impact is showing it’s possible to continue to grow economically in a heavily populated state while protecting the wild places around us. We can improve connectivity, preserve large landscapes, and begin to integrate urban nature into our world to improve our lives.
During the conference, I was fortunate enough to host one of the breakout sessions, where we highlighted the essential role public lands will play in achieving 30×30, and the fact that public lands cover over 44% of California. Campaign representatives from the San Gabriel National Monument expansion campaign and the Chuckwalla National Monument campaign were in this session, and they inspired others to take on similar efforts in their regions. The reality is, despite the significant work we’ve done on national monuments over the past few years, and as close as we believe we are to seeing them designated, 30×30 is remarkably ambitious. To achieve our goals, we must see these campaigns grow exponentially around the state.
Doubling down on what we can accomplish
It’s important for all of us, foundations, organizations and staff, donors, activists, and governments, to increase our investments and double down or even triple down on what we’ve been able to accomplish so far. The reality is it doesn’t get easier. In fact, it will probably get harder to find and protect wild places. We’ve set the groundwork, we have the history, and we know what’s needed moving forward.
CalWild is excited about the opportunity that 30×30 presents in elevating land conservation. Traditional conservation hasn’t been a priority in the environmental community for many years. Most of the conversation has revolved around greenhouse gas reductions, electrification, and clean energy development.
The notable and important presence of Tribal entities in leading conservation efforts
It’s exciting to see how much this conservation movement has also expanded the notable presence of Tribal entities at the conference and more importantly the role Tribal entities play around California in leading conservation efforts. CalWild has always maintained the importance of engaging with Tribes in authentic and reciprocal ways. Developments over the last couple of years have shown the true possibilities for Tribal leadership roles in both the conservation and management of lands in California, particularly public lands.
In every national monument we are proposing, Tribes are playing a key role. There are even national monument initiatives that will be started and completed entirely through the work of Tribal entities. For those of us who care about the protection of wild places, this is a wonderful development as it adds new and critical voices to the future management of California. The presence of diverse backgrounds, organizations, and approaches at this event shows that although the goal is ambitious, it is absolutely attainable.
CalWild is excited about the opportunity presented by national monuments and the recent developments in the NCIP process. We continue to work to build our capacity, be in more places, and lead more campaigns. As we approach the end of the year, please consider that ambition as you think about where you’re going to give your generous donations. It’s because of you and your support that these protections are even at all possible. Thank you for joining us as we move forward in protecting wild California today and for future generations.