Heads of state, philanthropic leaders and indigenous representatives have come together to announce unprecedented commitments to protect and restore nature, at the opening session of the Nature for Life Hub, a high-level event Transformative Action for Nature and People, coinciding with the 76th UN General Assembly.

Nine organisations pledged $5 billion over the next 10 years to support the creation, expansion, management and monitoring of protected and conserved areas of land, inland water and sea, working with indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society and governments.

"This is not a moment where we should not have hope. At the centre of all of this, people will have to be the ones who shape what happens next," said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

"Societies have found within themselves the ability to address things that often were long overdue whether it was the issues of inequality or exclusion, but also investments in systemic transformations. We are investing in one another's ability to, together, change the trajectory of the world."

The event on Wednesday brought together 22 Presidents and Prime Ministers, as well as indigenous community leaders and leaders from the worlds of finance, philanthropy, and civil society to commit to momentous action for nature, climate and people.

The nine philanthropic organisations jointly launched the 'Protecting Our Planet Challenge' to ensure that 30 per cent of the planet is protected and preserved by 2030 --with a specific focus on the most important places for biodiversity.

The nine organisations include: Arcadia, Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, Re:wild, Wyss Foundation, and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.

This is the biggest-ever philanthropic commitment to nature conservation that campaigners see as crucial to unlock greater investments in conservation, to plug the gap in funding to reverse global nature loss, and secure a nature-positive world.

Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, reiterated the announcement that the European Union will double its external funding for biodiversity, in particular for the most vulnerable countries, showing leadership which must now be matched by countries and institutions across the globe.

The event also included participants from Finance for Biodiversity Pledge that gathers 75 financial institutions from around the globe -- collectively worth 12 trillion euros in assets -- committing to protecting and restoring biodiversity through their finance activities and investments.

The announcements send a strong signal to countries to step up their ambition to protect and restore nature ahead of the COP26 climate conference taking place in Glasgow, UK, in November and the COP15 biodiversity conference taking place in Kunming, China in April/May 2022.

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