Photo by Vanessa Velazquez.
 In Climate resilience, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Federal Funding, Healthy, Resilient Rivers, News, River and Water Organizations, River Flows, River Restoration and Protection, Water law

Water Policies for 30×30: The America the Beautiful for All Coalition 2024 Policy Agenda

Over the last two years, River Network has served on the Steering Committee of the America the Beautiful for All Coalition. This ambitious and extraordinary coalition brings together land, freshwater, and ocean advocates to conserve 30% of lands, waters, and oceans by 2030 centered on equity with twin goals to:

  • Conserve, connect and restore at least 30% of land, water, and ocean in protected areas by 2030 (aka “30×30”) to avoid massive species loss, secure equitable access to nature’s benefits, and prevent and repair the impacts of the climate crisis for all communities; and
  • Implement a Justice40 metric for the America the Beautiful Initiative to ensure at least 40% of the investments are made in communities of color and frontline communities that have historically seen little to no investment in conservation and equitable access to nature.

The 30×30 goal stems from an international initiative adopted as part of the global biodiversity framework recognizing the urgent need to halt and reverse biodiversity loss for human well-being and a healthy environment. The Biden Administration called for reaching this 30×30 goal as part of an Executive Order tacking the climate crisis, and the Administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative is led by the Department of Interior. Already the Administration has provided funding to locally led conservation projects nationwide including $141 million in 2023 with 40% of funds going to Tribal communities, protected additional land and strengthened co-stewardship of federal lands by Indigenous communities (the Coalition’s new policy agenda highlights both the wins and losses over the last year).

Achieving 30×30 requires funding, but also policy change driven by local communities at the heart of the biodiversity crisis. One amazing thing about being part of this broad and diverse coalition has been the focus on both process and substance, with the collective goals emanating from people of color and frontline organizations, who are three times more likely to live in nature-deprived communities, compared with white communities.

This week, the coalition launched our 2024 Policy Agenda, which was sourced from and a collective effort by people representing hundreds of organizations, missions, cultures and identities.

Although freshwater conservation can sometimes fall out of 30×30 conversations, the Coalition’s Freshwater workgroup, co-led by Tana Atchley Culbertson and Martin Castro made sure we included a strong set of recommendations. A snapshot of some of these critical freshwater conservation policy priorities include:

  • Removing dams and restoring river flows in the Columbia and Snake rivers to restore Salmon and Steelhead populations and fulfill Treaty obligations to the four Columbia River Basin Tribes.
  • Strengthening, reintroducing and/or passing the:
    • Clean Water Act of 2023 to restore Clean Water Act protections for wetlands and small streams following the devastating Sackett case, which removed protections for half the nation’s wetlands; and
    • Headwaters Protection Act of 2023 to improve clean drinking water by better protecting source water on our national forests.
  • Studying and designating a number of Wild and Scenic Rivers that have broad community support.

River Network is proud to be part of this coalition committed to public health and justice-oriented priorities for conserving the ocean, freshwater, public land, wildlife and urban parks and green space. Read more and consider endorsing the policy platform – and join us at River Rally where Tana and Martin will be leading a session about these American the Beautiful for All Coalition freshwater priorities and how you can get involved.

Learn more: America the Beautiful for All 2024 Policy Agenda

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