International conventions to reduce carbon dioxide levels focus on ecosystems and do not specifically recognize the need to conserve species. However, species are the building blocks of ecosystems, they are more widely understood among the public, and they provide means of capturing market values from ecosystems. Achieving successful conservation globally will require ensuring that the systems under which species and ecosystems are conserved are more inclusive than statutory protected areas. Equal emphasis needs to be placed on including effective regimes that also encompass private and communal ownership through incentive–based approaches. Nevertheless, if globalized industries such as nature–based tourism or consumptive use are to provide meaningful incentives locally, a key requirement is to reduce leakage of revenue that is earned as a result of conserving species, such that local development concerns are addressed. However, current biodiversity conventions that address these needs are largely aspirational, while globalized industries such as tourism mainly promote their green credentials only through voluntary codes of conduct. Greatly improved linkages are needed between international conservation concerns and ensuring effective solutions to sustainability, which inevitably rest at national and sub–national levels, through systems of rights, tenure, benefits and incentives.