An ambitious, globally coordinated, action plan is needed to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change as well as to encourage long-term sustainability of actions in favour of biodiversity. Underpinning all efforts to understand, model, monitor, reconstitute or manage biodiversity is the fundamental science of taxonomy. Modern integrative taxonomy, the discovery, description, circumscription, naming and documentation of species using multi-faceted scientific approaches in a phylogenetic framework, is at the root of our understanding the richness of life on Earth. Taxonomy is also at the heart of all biodiversity knowledge as it provides the concepts of the species, and their correct names, that are the key components of biodiversity itself. We stress that the importance of taxonomy and its essential role in underpinning efforts to achieve the shared vision of living in harmony with nature under the new global strategic framework be recognised and fully embedded within the broad-based actions needed to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity.