After around two weeks of negotiations, the participants at the World Nature Summit in Montreal, Canada, agreed on a final declaration on Monday.
In it, 193 countries set themselves the goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the land and sea areas of the earth by 2030 (30x30).
They also want to spend more money on protecting biodiversity.
The threat from pesticides will be halved by 2030 and environmentally harmful subsidies of $500 billion a year will be phased out.
In addition, developing countries are to receive $30 billion a year for nature conservation.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) sees the agreement as a "protective shield for our livelihoods".
The international community has decided to finally stop the extinction of species.
"By protecting nature, we protect ourselves and also ensure an environment worth living in for our children," she said on Monday in Montreal, Canada.
The federal government had campaigned there for the 30 percent target.
A million species threatened with extinction
The destruction of biodiversity is considered to be a similar threat to global warming and is often associated with it.
This applies, for example, to the destruction of the rainforest or seagrass meadows.
According to scientists from the World Biodiversity Council IPBES, one million of the estimated eight million animal and plant species on earth are threatened with extinction.
Species are disappearing at a rate not seen in the past ten million years.
Among other things, this endangers the development of medicinal products, which are often also based on the genetic basis of plant and animal species.
The goal is to stop the loss of species by 2030.
At the conference, almost 5,000 delegates from 193 countries struggled for two weeks to reach an agreement.
"The agreement is approved," Chinese Environment Minister and conference chair Huang Runqiu said at a late-night plenary session.
After the adoption, cheers erupted at the plenary session at the Montreal Convention Center, which had previously been pushed back time and again.
The Chinese summit presidency spoke of a "historic moment".
Organizers, scientists and representatives of non-governmental organizations had hoped that a landmark agreement on species protection could be passed.
"Even if not all expectations of the new agreement could be met, the adopted goals now offer a great opportunity to initiate the trend reversal that is so urgently needed to overcome the biodiversity crisis and thus to secure the livelihoods of current and future generations," said Georg Schwede from the Campaign for Nature, which observed the negotiations on the ground.
The agreement also has the potential to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities with the implementation of 30x30 and other goals.
This would be a paradigm shift for the protection of nature.
Florian Titze from the environmental association WWF sees an incomplete but ultimately surprisingly good framework.
According to Greenpeace, it can already be described as a success that after tough negotiations between the contracting states, an agreement was reached at all.
"The world is racing towards an abyss"
On the other hand, the nature conservation association Nabu misses the lack of measurable goals that could stop the loss of biodiversity through agriculture, fisheries and trade.
Despite progress in substance, the agreement is not enough to stop or reverse the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems.
"The world is racing towards an abyss in the natural and climate crisis," said Nabu President Jörg-Andreas Krüger.
"But instead of braking decisively, she just slows down a bit."
Observers say that many goals have been set too far into the future and have not been made qualitatively tangible enough.
Representatives of some of the poorer countries in particular criticized the fact that too little financial aid had been planned for the richer countries.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo complained that these objections were not taken seriously enough, and the adoption was ultimately pushed through against resistance.
The 15th World Summit on Nature, which also goes by the abbreviation COP15, was originally supposed to take place in China in 2020, but was then postponed and divided due to the ongoing pandemic situation there.
The first part of the negotiations took place last October, mainly online, in Kunming, China.