Thank you to those who have contacted me about the UK’s efforts to protect biodiversity.
Last year, the Prime Minister committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030, coinciding with the Leaders Pledge for Nature which will prioritise biodiversity and put the natural environment of many areas on a road to recovery by the same year.
The PM urged other countries to act to prevent more species from being lost forever. Since 2019, the UK has led the Global Ocean Alliance promoting a target to protect 30 per cent of the oceans by 2030 and will now support the same commitment to protect land through the 30 by 30 campaign. The UK will champion it with other countries as part of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People.
The UK is playing a leading role in this issue internationally and at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15, to be held later this year, the 196 Parties to the Convention are set to adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework which will set global targets to tackle biodiversity loss.
The UK is committed to spearheading frameworks which will support ambitious targets, including on species extinction and protected areas. Last year, the Prime Minister confirmed that the area of marine environment now protected by the UK would expand to more than 4.3 million square km as a result of the Government’s Blue Belt Programme.
Tristan da Cunha, funded by the programme, announced the largest fully-protected marine reserve in the Atlantic Ocean, closing more than 90% of its waters to harmful activities like bottom-trawling fishing, sand extraction and deep-sea mining.
The Government’s Blue Belt Programme provides £27 million over five years for marine conservation around UK Overseas Territories.
Other Overseas Territories who protect their waters with the support of this initiative include Ascension Island, the British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena. The 4.3 million sq km of protected sea equates to an area 17 times the size of the UK and more than 1% of the Earth’s entire ocean area.
Domestically, the Environment Bill will set an ambitious framework for environmental governance. The Bill sets legally-binding targets, creates an environmental enforcement body and places many environmental principles in law for the first time.
In addition, through the Bill, Ministers are introducing a world-leading due diligence law to prohibit larger businesses from using commodities produced on land occupied or used illegally and make it mandatory for businesses to conduct due diligence on their supply chains. Once operational, it will help to eradicate illegal deforestation from the UK's supply chains.