Conservationists, the financial sector, and the intelligence community rarely find opportunities to concur, but all agree the world’s continuing loss of wildlands and biodiversity poses systemic risks to our economy and national security. To mitigate this risk, a growing movement of governments and civil society is working to conserve 30% of Earth’s lands and waters by 2030, a campaign known as “30 by 30.”
To restore America’s position as a global leader on the environment, President Joe Biden has embraced the 30 by 30 ambition with his America the Beautiful Initiative, a plan to expand the role of America’s communities and private landowners in conservation efforts.
However, global environmental leadership requires more than ambitious domestic policies. Leadership also requires America to support partners abroad in achieving the 30 by 30 and other conservation goals, or at least not get in their way. Unfortunately, in this regard, the United States is moving in the wrong direction.
A measure in the Department of Interior appropriations bill making its way through Congress would undermine the conservation programs of several African nations by imposing arbitrary bans on the importation of hunting trophies legally acquired in Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Because these countries are significantly reliant on revenue from American hunters to fund conservation efforts, Congress risks stripping more than 94 million acres of conserved lands of their primary source of funding. In the process, it will pull the rug out from underneath decades of conservation work and undermine the world’s 30 by 30 ambitions.