Natural & Working Lands Challenge FAQs


│ What are Natural and Working Lands, and why are they important?

Natural and working lands are forests, farms and ranches, grasslands, wetlands, and urban greenspace – in effect, all lands that store carbon in biomass and soils. These lands may be privately or publicly owned and managed for a variety of purposes including commercial use, recreational open space, and wildlife habitat. These lands sequester carbon and provide significant and cost-effective opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Realizing the potential of carbon sequestration in natural and working lands is necessary to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

Within Alliance states, natural and working lands offset 16% of the Alliance’s GHG emissions from energy, transportation, and other sources in 2016.

Maintaining the resilience of natural and working lands is an important part of any GHG emission reduction strategy. It is also important to securing the well-being of communities, economies and ecosystems. Actions that secure and enhance the “carbon base,” such as land conservation, restoration, and improved management, also support watersheds and food systems, improve air quality, protect against urban heat islands and sea level rise, and preserve the beauty and function of natural areas and parks.


│ What is the US Climate Alliance doing to reduce GHG emissions from and increase carbon sequestration in Natural and Working Lands?

On August 23, 2018, the U.S. Climate Alliance committed to the collective goal of maintaining natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. Achieving this will require everything from improving GHG inventories for land use and identifying best practices for climate-smart land management to advancing programs, policies and incentives to reduce GHG emissions and enhance resilient carbon sequestration. The Alliance also established a critical milestone: to integrate priority actions and pathways for natural and working lands into state GHG mitigation plans by 2020. The Alliance will be undertaking a 2-year effort to increase technical capacity and share knowledge to comprehensively understand and address the risks to carbon storage as well as opportunities to increase sequestration and reduce GHG emissions.

Alliances states and landowners within those states will be starting from strong foundations in land conservation and stewardship. On farms and ranches, many states already have programs in place to fund conservation of agricultural and forest lands for the next generation, improve soil health, and restore streams and rivers. States, cities and neighborhoods invest in urban forests and parks. Incentives, programs and policies exist for conservation and restoration of wetlands, grasslands, forests, deserts, and ocean and coastal ecosystems. These existing programs and policies, and new ones, will form the building blocks of natural and working lands climate change strategies.

The Alliance cannot act alone. We invite all state and local government, nations, businesses, indigenous communities, and other actors to join the NWL Challenge with their own commitments to reducing GHG emissions from and increasing carbon sequestration on natural and working lands.


What does it mean to accept the NWL Challenge?

Those that accept the NWL Challenge should commit to securing natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. This will take different forms for different actors. For example, local, sub-national and national jurisdictions might take a broad approach like that of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Landowners and managers may wish to focus on restoration and implementing climate-smart practices on their own lands. Businesses may look at their supply chains and customers as potential partners, and incorporate natural and working goals into their own climate change commitments and strategies.

For those who are making substantial contributions towards advancing the objectives of the NWL Challenge, we invite you to share your leadership and expertise at the Global Climate Action Summit and milestones beyond, and to encourage others to commit to act.  Please contact if you would like to accept the NWL Challenge in conjunction with the Alliance. The Alliance will also display your logo on our website to recognize your leadership.


I’m in! Where can I register my pledge?

You can submit your pledge by emailing We also suggest using the hashtag #NWLChallengeAccepted in any social media posts about your efforts.  If you are a businesses, city, university, or other subnational entity, you can also accept the #NWLChallenge by registering and describing your actions via We Are Still In's contribution platform


Will there be any reporting or tracking procedures?

The Alliance states report publicly on an annual basis on their implementation.  We encourage those that accept the Challenge to do the same, and for in-state actors to share progress with Climate Alliance states. You are not asked to report back through the U.S. Climate Alliance.