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Governments must act to confront the alarming loss of nature and prioritize efforts to increase biodiversity financing

illuminem takes pride in exclusively presenting the updated Open Letter for Nature, precisely one month following its initial endorsement by the CfN's Global Steering Committee. The letter now bears the signatures of over 20 former Heads of State, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ministers, among other notable figures.

Dear World Leaders,

We are writing as the Campaign for Nature’s Global Steering Committee, a group of former heads of state, ministers, diplomats, and scientists, that has come together out of a firm belief that governments must act with greater urgency and ambition to confront the alarming loss of biodiversity and nature around the world. 

We would like to congratulate you on helping to secure the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at COP15 in Montreal last December, which was headlined by the science-based target to protect or conserve at least 30% of the world’s land and inland waters and at least 30% of the world’s coastal and marine areas by 2030, while respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and recognizing their territories.

As you and other world leaders move to implement this historic agreement, we urge you to prioritize efforts to increase biodiversity financing and to ensure that an increased percentage of biodiversity financing goes to Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who help conserve 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity but receive less than one percent of the funding. We would like to emphasize, in particular, the commitment you and other countries made at COP15 to increase international financing from developed countries to developing countries to at least $20 billion by 2025.

Ambitious targets to halt and reverse nature loss will only work when complemented by sufficient financing. Given the size of the biodiversity finance gap and the concentration of biodiversity in the developing world, $20 billion per year in international finance is a notable increase, roughly double the status quo. Meeting this imminent benchmark is an essential first step if the world is serious about conserving the planet’s biodiversity and fully implementing the Montreal Agreement. We recommend that donor countries move fast to devise a strategy and roadmap so that delivery of the $20 bn annual commitment is viable by 2025.   

It is encouraging that the Summit for a Global Financing Pact explicitly stated its aim is to build a new contract between the countries of the North and the South and a platform for action to finance development, nature, and climate. It is also heartening to note that in June the GEF Council approved a new Global Biodiversity Fund. We hope that both of these events mark the beginning of far greater attention and priority placed on the importance of nature financing from the highest level of government.

This is not the time to withdraw from global environmental leadership, this is the time to keep the promise - honor financial commitments, be bold with policy choices, and stand in partnership with the developing world to protect and restore nature at home and abroad. 


Russ Feingold, Former US Senator, and Presidential Envoy to the Great Lakes Region (Chair)

His Excellency Iván Duque, Former President of Colombia 

His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, Former President of Sierra Leone

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia

His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Former President of Iceland

Her Excellency Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland 

His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia

His Excellency Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Former Prime Minister of Uganda

Yongyuth Yuthavong, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand 

Graça Machel DBE HonFBA, Former First Lady of South Africa 

Loren Legarda, President pro tempore of the Senate of the Philippines

Susana Malcora, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Argentina

Amre Moussa, Former Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs Egypt 

Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT)

Dr. Zakri Hamid, Former Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia

Professor Rashid Sumaila, Institute for Oceans and Fisheries 

Tony La Vina, Lawyer, and Environmental Policy Expert

The letter is featured in illuminem's Thought Leadership series on COP28 proudly powered by Tikehau Capital.
The CfN Global Steering Committee constitutes the highest-profile political group working to safeguard nature. This esteemed group of former heads of state, ministers, diplomats, and scientists has tirelessly championed the 30x30 goal since its inception and is now issuing a clarion call to world leaders to urgently and ambitiously confront the continuing loss of nature and to prioritize commitments made to increase biodiversity financing immediately. 

This letter is also published on the Campaign for Nature website. illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the authors

Russ Feingold is a former US Senator from Wisconsin from 1993 to 2011. 

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His Excellency Ivan Duque is former President of Colombia from 2018 to 2022.

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His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma is the former President of Sierra Leone.

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Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the former President of Liberia and the first ever elected female head of state in Africa.

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His Excellency Olufur Ragnar Grimsson is the former President of Iceland and Chairman of Arctic Circle.

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Her Excellency Mary Robinson is the former President of Ireland and the first woman to hold this title in the country's history. 

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His Excellency Hailemariam Desalegn is the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

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His Excellency Ruhakana Rugunda was the Prime Minister of Uganda from 2014 to 2021.

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Yongyuth Yuthavong is the former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand. He is renowned for his research work on anti-malarials and drug resistance.

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Graca Machel was a Minister and First Lady of Mozambique. She also served as the First Lady of South Africa during Mandela's leadership from 1998 to 1999.

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Loren Legarda is a politician, environmentalist, cultural worker, and former journalist serving as President pro tempore of the Senate of the Philippines.

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Susana Malcora was the Foreign Minister of Argentina from 2015 to 2017.

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Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican diplomat who served as Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC and was a key negotiator for both the Kyoto and Paris Agreements.

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Amre Mousa is a former Foreign Minister of Egypt and Secretary-General of the Arab League.

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Dr Zakri Hamid is a former Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and a member of the Secretary-General's Scientific Advisory Board of the United Nations.

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Professor Rashid Sumaila works at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

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Hindou Ibrahim is the President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT).

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Tony La Vina is a lawyer, environmental policy expert and former undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

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