Transforming how land is developed, used and conserved has never been more urgent. The impacts of a changing climate coupled with the need to double production of food, fiber and fuel by mid-century will weigh heavily on our forests, grasslands, wetlands and other natural resources. Such unprecedented pressures require unprecedented measures, and simply protecting land is not enough. We must do more to transform how we use and develop all our land-based resources, in partnership with the people who live on those lands. There is a development path that is compatible with healthy landscapes and flourishing communities – and where the power of nature can be fully harnessed for tackling climate change.
Looming threats to our lands – and the life they sustain – continue to rise. Population growth and agriculture, mining and infrastructure development mean that approximately one-fifth of the world’s remaining natural land is at risk.
These pressures, coupled with a changing climate, not only create physical challenges that threaten the biodiversity of our planet, but they also pose significant risks to people, particularly those communities that directly depend on lands for food, water, shelter, jobs and culture.
New science is enabling us to better understand the full value of healthy landscapes and to model the threats and potential for more balanced solutions to development pressures. In turn, public policy in many parts of the world and resource-intensive sectors are increasingly accounting for the value of nature and the services that nature provides to us. Lands managed by indigenous peoples and local communities often show how customary stewardship can guide the way. A movement for global-scale change is coming together.
The Nature Conservancy has more than 60 years of land conservation experience. To address the challenges we face today, our efforts on the ground have evolved – to be large, system-wide, multiple strategies deployed in unison. We are striving to fully evaluate the risks and challenges, and to develop appropriate solutions that promote inclusive green growth, ensure a continued flow of ecosystem services, help to stabilize our climate and meet food security needs.
Our goal is to conserve land at an unprecedented scale, working with – rather than against – development.
-- Our Strategy --
Driving better development decisions
Global economic output is expected to double in the next two decades and trillions of development dollars will be invested in new energy, mining and infrastructure projects around the world. For this to deliver ‘net gains for nature and people’, development needs to be prudently planned and delivered. Our science-based mitigation planning process balances the needs of development with those of conservation.
Advancing indigenous and community-led conservation
It is estimated that indigenous peoples and communities hold as much as 65% of the world’s land area through customary, community-based tenure – and research tells us that these communities can often be conservation’s greatest ally. Landscapes are managed more sustainably when the people with cultural and economic ties to that land are fully engaged in driving development and conservation outcomes that are mutually reinforcing. We are working with rights-holders and other stakeholders to develop tools and approaches that support the implementation of such community-led conservation globally.
Promoting sustainable practices on working lands
Humans have already converted a third of the Earth’s ice-free surface for agriculture. Encouraging more productive activities on these lands is the only way we can meet growing demand for food, fiber and fuel while taking pressure off habitat conversion. To promote sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, we support the diffusion of good land management that delivers healthier soils, resource efficiency, habitat integration, and more resilient systems. Supporting behavioral change and using technology will make these practices and strategies the norm at farm, forest and landscape level – improving yields and reducing environmental impacts.
Maximizing natural climate solutions
The synergies between protecting our landscapes and reducing climate change are remarkable. Natural systems provide obvious but often forgotten solutions: in addition to forests, habitats such as wetlands and grasslands can absorb and store enormous amounts of carbon. We estimate that nature could mitigate a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, and our focus is on demonstrating how to maximize the carbon storage and climate resilience potential of nature while improving economic returns and meeting development demands. Building on decades of existing forest and land-use expertise around the world, we believe that nature-based solutions can play a much bigger role in helping to curb climate change.
The Nature Conservancy has for decades worked with diverse parts of society to promote conservation, and has seen time and again how rural landowners and national policymakers alike have grappled with what seem like trade-offs between environmental and economic goals. While progress is tangible, many places could move faster towards truly unlocking green growth. If we can create a stronger mix of incentives for low-emissions development across entire landscapes – including results-based finance, in-country funding, supply chain incentives, private capital and processes that support community engagement – we can unlock an entirely different development and climate trajectory.
"The conservation movement has to do more to find solutions that incorporate environmental and societal needs into economic development decisions."
Justin Adams is the Global Managing Director for Lands at The Nature
Conservancy, where he leads a broad team of Conservancy staff operating
at the intersection of global development and environmental challenges,
including sustainable agriculture, forests and climate change, smart
infrastructure, and indigenous and communal conservation.
believes passionately that we have to find new models to balance
competing priorities for land including food security, sustainable
energy production and sustainable livelihoods, while also conserving and
restoring nature to deliver the critical ecosystem services on which
all life depends.
Justin has spent more than 20 years championing
innovation and sustainability. Most recently he has worked as a Senior
Advisor to the World Bank where he helped design and raise $300 million
for the BioCarbon Fund’s Initiative for Sustainable Forested Landscapes.
He also served as a Senior Advisor to the Duke of Westminster’s new
agricultural fund – Wheatsheaf Investments and built a boutique advisory
business working with NGOs and companies on issues including palm oil
expansion, restoring degraded lands, improving smallholder yields and
Previously, Justin was a senior executive at BP for 10 years where he
helped to build its $8 billion renewables division, Alternative Energy.
As Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, he created and led BP’s
corporate venture arm – BP Ventures – managing an investment portfolio
of $150 million across 30 entrepreneurial companies. He also
consolidated and led BP’s carbon-related activities (including carbon
capture & storage and REDD) under the banner of Carbon Solutions. In
his previous role as Director Long-Term Technology and Innovation, he
helped establish a number of pioneering public-private technology and
innovation initiatives and partnerships in China, India, the United
States and the United Kingdom.
Justin is a Fellow at the Smith
School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford and
is also completing a role as Chairman of Mendel Plant Sciences. He
received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management
from the University of Bath, in the United Kingdom.