California and U.S. Executive Orders Set 30 by 30 Climate Goals

Last year was certainly challenging, in more ways than any of us could have anticipated. But, Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order N-82-20, now referred to as 30 by 30, is one reason to be optimistic about the future of our planet’s climate. 

With this order, California has ambitiously committed to conserving 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030. This important action has also inspired President Biden to take similar bold steps by declaring a federal 30 by 30 executive order. During this groundbreaking moment, the Open Space Authority and our partners see these policies as opportunities to gain momentum and keep pushing forward with the work we are already doing to protect our natural and working lands as key climate-resilience infrastructure.

Rushing stream in redwood forest

Issued by Governor Newsom in the fall of 2020, the State’s 30 by 30 Executive Order aims to conserve at least 30 percent of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 which could have a significant impact on protecting the rapidly declining biodiversity of California’s ecosystems. While the executive order itself is not legally binding and many of the definitions and metrics still need to be defined, the intentions are unmistakable. According to Governor Newsom, “the science is clear,” and focusing on protection of our state’s natural and working lands is going to be a crucial part of fighting climate change.

The Open Space Authority has been working towards these goals for some time, with the Coyote Valley Conservation Program Area serving as a model for what 30 by 30 aims to inspire in other areas around the state. Coyote Valley is home to a dynamic ecosystem, supporting a variety of threatened and endangered species as the critical landscape linkage between the Diablo Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains. This landscape benefits wildlife and human communities with its rich cultural history, water resources, recreational opportunities, and active farm and ranching operations. By continuing to pursue the Authority’s primary goal of conserving and protecting natural and working lands, we are excited to be an important part of this ambitious state goal.

Aerial view of North Coyote Valley looking west across the Santa Cruz Mountains
North Coyote Valley, looking west (Matt Dolkas, Peninsula Open Space Trust)

The Open Space Authority has protected over 28,000 acres throughout the South Bay and has worked with our dedicated conservation partners to protect over 12,000 acres in the greater Coyote Valley. Much like nature itself, the impacts of our projects are interdependent. Conserving our region’s natural and working lands advances the Authority’s mission and strategic conservation goals, including protection of surface and groundwater, wildlife habitat and connectivity, and agricultural viability. Conservation also increases climate resilience for the Santa Clara Valley, and creates new opportunities to provide equitable access to nature across our 1,000 square mile jurisdiction.

“The Open Space Authority is demonstrating the power of working together, across landscapes and partners to achieve multi-benefit conservation outcomes,” says Jennifer Norris, California Natural Resources Deputy Secretary for Biodiversity and Habitat and the State’s lead on 30 by 30. “Coyote Valley serves as a real-world example of how to meet our 30 by 30 goals of protecting biodiversity, promoting climate resilience and advancing equitable access for all.”

Pajaro River surrounded by agricultural fields in South Santa Clara County
Pajaro River, South Santa Clara County (William Matthias)

All of this work has been made possible by the overwhelming support received from South Bay voters through the passage of the Authority’s Measure Q in 2014. This critical local funding has allowed us to improve parks, open spaces, and trails, protect local water supply and wildlife habitat, provide equitable public access to nature, including in the urban core, enhance environmental education for the community, support sustainable agriculture, and much more. With the passage of Measure T by 81% of the vote this past November, voters again demonstrated their continued support for the Authority’s work to protect our region’s rich ecology and contribute to California’s - and now the nation’s - larger conservation goals.

In January, President Biden followed California’s lead and signed an executive order to commit the entire country to the goals set forth in 30 by 30. We applaud President Biden for taking this bold step to join 38 other countries around the world in committing to a healthier and more sustainable future. It’s clear that climate change is upon us and is already having devastating effects on disadvantaged communities. A dedicated, cooperative global effort is needed, and much of this work can and must begin at the local level. The Authority is more motivated than ever to create meaningful change through our conservation and community investment work. Through our support of innovative climate policies, our continued dedication to investments such as the Urban Open Space Grant Program, and our commitment to building partnerships in our communities – especially those that advance equitable access to nature - the Authority stands ready to do our part in bringing 30 by 30 to life!

Andrea_Mackenzie_160x160Best Regards,

Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager



March 03, 2021
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Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer