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Research Spotlight: Announcing a Global Safety Net for biodiversity and climate

E. Dinerstein, A. R. Joshi, C. Vynne, A. T. L. Lee, F. Pharand-Deschênes, M. França, S. Fernando, T. Birch, K. Burkart, G. P. Asner and D. Olson.(2020). A “Global Safety Net” to reverse biodiversity loss and stabilize Earth’s climate. Science Advances. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb2824

The Upshot

Last year, an international team of scientists, indigenous leaders, and conservationists presented the “Global Deal for Nature,” (GDN) an ambitious plan calling upon world leaders to formally protect half of Earth’s terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms by 2030. The GDN was the first effort to set timebound science-based conservation targets for the entire planet. Building upon this previous work, the “Global Safety Net for saving life on Earth” (GSN) was recently announced. The GSN identifies the exact ecoregions on Earth that, if conserved, would reverse further biodiversity loss, enhance carbon storage, and reduce further CO2 emissions from land conversion. By using nature-based solutions to unite these dual threats, the GSN accelerates goals set by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and executes the charge “conserve at least half and in the right places.” Like the GDN, the GSN is science-based and timebound; the authors intend it to be used as a dynamic tool to assess progress towards the comprehensive conservation targets set forth by the GDN.

The Discovery

The authors estimate that an increase of just 2.3 percent more land in the right places could save our planet’s most threatened species within five years. Thirty-seven percent of the proposed lands for increased conservation protection overlap with indigenous lands, highlighting the central role indigenous peoples and their lands play to preserve global biodiversity and major carbon reservoirs. GSN biodiversity objectives could be attained on an estimated one-third of proposed conservation areas through practices such as upholding indigenous land tenure rights and resourcing programs on indigenous-managed lands.

The Impact 

“The Global Safety Net is a powerful global roadmap to mitigate climate change and avert the collapse of our natural biological infrastructure. The GSN is actionable at all scales, from local to national, but it is imperative that national governments act quickly to develop detailed action plans to achieve these goals,” Greg Asner

The Researchers

For the full list of researchers, please see the publication. Greg Asner is the director of the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS).