Written by: Liz Clift
The early weeks of the Biden administration signal conservation-focused changes to national policy—which may mean more money will be held in endowments for the permanent protection of land.
President Joe Biden has committed to protecting 30% of the United States’ land and oceans by 2030. Through this is an audacious goal, he joins a growing community of scientists, governments, and Indigenous leaders around the world, who are dedicated to ecosystem conservation. It also builds on the US history of environmental conservation, ranging from the creation of national parks to policies such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.
The 30×30 campaign is seen as a critical step in fighting climate change, slowing the decline of biological diversity, and securing the natural life support systems (ecosystem services) we depend on for life and livelihood.
However, achieving these goals will require significant public engagement ranging from individual citizens through local and state governments, and must include businesses and nonprofits. Additionally, endowments will need to be established to ensure ongoing maintenance and monitoring of these lands, as they are given over to parks services, land trusts, and more with permanent protections in place.
The policy statement for President Biden’s Executive Order titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” emphasizes that the new administration policies will “…improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure of dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments…”
This new Executive Order identifies industries most likely to be affected by forthcoming policy reviews and changes. And some of these changes may to be paired with the 30×30 goals, to help ensure permanent protection of US lands and waters. This means lands that are permanently protected through mitigation banks, conservation easements, creation of public parks, and the like—as part of offset requirements for planned or unplanned damages—will help support the US goal for overall land protection. It also means that more companies will be seeking opportunities to permanently protect land, which could lead to more competition, especially in areas that are already highly developed. We obviously are excited by the notion that conservation and mitigation banks and conservation easements would help achieve the 30×30 goals and are eager to see how this rolls out in practice in the coming months.
This also may result in some creative restoration and creation of ecosystems. It also likely means that more companies and asset managers will be looking for investment management and financial expertise to support environmentally-focused endowments. This will allow them to generate enough capital to meet long-term management obligations for mitigation and conservation properties. And that is exactly what Eco Endowment Solutions specializes in.