OPC Joins the 30×30 Partnership: A Collaboration for People and Nature

By Michael Esgro, Senior Biodiversity Program Manager & Tribal Liaison

Yesterday, hundreds of environmental champions (including OPC leadership and staff!) met at California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) Headquarters in Sacramento for the official kickoff of the 30×30 Partnership. This new collaborative brings together local, state, federal, and tribal leaders from across the state to ensure the voices of all Californians are represented in the state’s bold effort to conserve 30% of its lands and coastal waters by 2030.

Opening remarks from Governor Gavin Newsom and CNRA Secretary Wade Crowfoot did not shy away from the urgency and severity of the global climate crisis. As Governor Newsom noted, “biodiversity loss and climate change, by definition, are just two sides of the same coin. Both threaten the health and lifestyle of all of us on the planet.” However, as Secretary Crowfoot emphasized, both people and nature can thrive together. The state’s 30×30 initiative – a key component of Governor Newsom’s 2020 Executive Order on biodiversity and climate – supports that hopeful vision for the future. State leaders, including both legislative members and CNRA officials, emphasized that 30×30 is not a top-down directive. Rather, it is a call to action meant to include, inspire, and motivate; the movement is “wind in our sails,” as CNRA Deputy Secretary Dr. Jennifer Norris described it.

Dr. Jennifer Norris, CNRA Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat. Photo: Andrew Innerarity

For me, the most exciting part of the event was seeing so many people come together in support of a shared goal. California has already conserved 24% of its lands and 16% of its coastal waters. We’re off to a strong start! But we’ll all need to work together and act boldly to conserve an additional 6 million acres of land and half a million acres of coastal waters by 2030. This requires listening to the diverse voices of all Californians, so I was especially grateful for the 30×30 Partnership’s dedication to equity, environmental justice, and meaningful tribal engagement. Most notably, a new agreement between the Yurok Tribe and California State Parks for co-management of cultural and natural resources in the North Coast Redwoods was announced at the event, demonstrating what’s possible when we think beyond the traditional conservation paradigm, recognize the interconnectedness of humans and nature, and amplify those who have too long been marginalized and silenced.

In the coming weeks, OPC will be sharing opportunities for tribes, environmental justice organizations, conservation groups, fishermen, and others to get involved as we move forward with the strategies and opportunities detailed in the Pathways to 30×30 document. These opportunities include: 


Wade Crowfoot, CNRA Secretary. Photo: Andrew Innerarity

  • Adaptively managing our state’s marine protected areas to ensure they continue to provide strong protections for coastal and marine biodiversity, especially in the face of climate change.
  • Working with federal partners to strengthen biodiversity protections in California’s National Marine Sanctuaries.
  • Partnering with California Native American tribes to establish Indigenous Marine Stewardship Areas, focused on supporting and enhancing tribal stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems.
  • Collaborating with scientists and fishermen to better understand the role of complementary conservation measures, such as fisheries closures, in protecting coastal and ocean biodiversity.

In a world where climate grief can often seem overwhelming, yesterday’s 30×30 kick-off event was a much-needed dose of positivity, enthusiasm, and audacity – the kind you can only find in California. We are so excited to support the vision of the 30×30 initiative. Let’s get to work!

Categories: 30x30, Equity and Environmental Justice, Strategic Goal 1: Climate Change, Strategic Goal 2: Equity, Strategic Goal 3: Biodiversity, Sustainable Fisheries and Marine Ecosystems, Tribal Engagement