BONN, Germany (1 March 2019) – The landmark Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 declared on Friday by the United Nations to accelerate the restoration of degraded ecosystems, is part of a longterm effort by the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), its partners and charter members.
The GLF is a knowledge-based platform and global movement that advocates for the restoration of ecological equilibrium to landscapes under pressure from climate change and unsustainable human activities. The 22 charter members of the GLF are many of the world’s leading development organizations. Worldwide, more than 2 billion hectares of land are degraded, a footprint larger than South America, according to World Resources Institute (WRI).
The U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration recognizes the vital role forested landscapes play in stabilizing the climate and offers support for 3.2 billion people whose livelihoods are at risk from deforestation caused by resource extraction and agricultural expansion. It provides a timeline upon which to accelerate and pull together multiple U.N. development, environment and climate frameworks already in place.
“This is a tremendous achievement for all the partners who have worked so hard to bring the decade to life,“ said John Colmey, executive producer of GLF. “The GLF brings together millions of people globally to combat the devastating harm that climate change and unsustainable practices are having on the world’s landscapes. This new U.N. decade acknowledges the urgency and scale of the challenges we face.”
Momentum grew for the idea of a decade dedicated to landscape restoration throughout 2018 at international events organized by GLF in Washington, Nairobi and Bonn, Germany, hosted by the World Bank and UN Environment. International scientists, policymakers, economists, activists and Indigenous Peoples discussed landscape degradation, climate change and its consequences, including food insecurity, mass migration, conflict, biodiversity and habitat loss.
“We’ve only just begun to realize the importance of forests and trees in their contributions to agricultural production through the provision of ecosystem services, not only to large-scale commodity production, but also for the millions of small-scale farmers working in complex multi-functional landscapes that actually produce a significant proportion of the world’s food,” said Terry Sunderland, associate scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), who was instrumental in the formation of the GLF.
“However welcome, this initiative will not be without its challenges,” he said. “Broader restoration efforts will require a more integrated approach to land management at the landscape scale and, while the conceptual frameworks for implementation have been in place for some time, we’re still falling short in breaking down disciplinary silos.”
The initial concept for the U.N. decade emerged from the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of land by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030, which was launched in 2011 by the government of Germany and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and later endorsed and extended by the New York Declaration on Forests at the 2014 U.N. Climate Summit. In its infancy, the concept of the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration was supported by El Salvador, UN Environment, IUCN and GLF.
“Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate $9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere,” said UN Environment and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in a statement.
The decade, launched by UN Environment and FAO, weaves together a range of international agreements – including the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, U.N. Convention on Biodiversity Aichi Targets, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, U.N. Paris Agreement on climate change, U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, Ramsar Convention on wetlands and the U.N. Strategic Plan on Forests 2017-2030.
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- Forest landscape restoration: Progress in the last decade and remaining challenges
- Ecosystem restoration is now a global priority: Time to roll up our sleeves
- El Salvador Minister of Environment and Natural Resources addresses United Nations
- African Ministerial Declaration on Biodiversity
Timeline below traces some of the key steps in the process, providing background.
GLOBAL LANDSCAPES FORUM
The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on sustainable land use, dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. The GLF secretariat is based in Bonn and core funding is provided by the government of Germany. GLF Charter members include CIRAD, CIFOR, Conservation International, Ecoagriculture Partners, Evergreen Agriculture, FSC, GEF, IPMG, CIAT, ICIMOD, IFOAM – Organics International, INBAR, IUFRO, Rainforest Alliance, Rare, Rights and Resources Initiative, UN Environment, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation–part of Wageningen Research, World Agroforestry, WWF Germany, Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL), World Bank group
BACKGROUND TIMELINE: Road to U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030
(PDF version of timeline can be downloaded here.)
September: The Bonn Challenge, a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030, is launched in Bonn by the German government and IUCN. The initiative is supported by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration and provides the practical means to implement existing international commitments, while using the forest restoration landscape approach.
December: At GLF Lima 2014, Latin American governments launch Initiative 20×20 supported by WRI, IUCN and many other partners in the GLF – a historic commitment to initiate the restoration of 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020 that supports Bonn Challenge objectives.
December: AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative), a pan-African, country-led effort to restore 100 million hectares of land across Africa by 2030, is launched at GLF Paris 2015 by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, World Resources Institute, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the World Bank.
December: Lina Pohl, head of El Salvador’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) is a keynote speaker at the GLF in Bonn, Germany and describes her vision of how to improve the integrity of ecosystems while meeting the needs of local communities.
- Competitive economies unthinkable without resilient landscapes, says El Salvador Environment Minister Lina Pohl
The idea for a U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is inspired by a conversation between Pohl and Horst Freiberg, head of Division for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Management of Forests, Biological Diversity and Climate Change in the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU), on the sidelines of GLF Bonn 2017.
March: At a major Bonn Challenge 3.0 event in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, MARN urges the international community to support a decade of landscape restoration. El Salvador formally proposes the idea of a dedicated UN Decade to promote the principles of ecosystem restoration.
May: As a speaker at the GLF Investment Case in Washington, D.C., Pohl describes her determination to turn the tide on environmental degradation and reduce El Salvador’s vulnerability to climate change through landscape restoration.
June: Global Environment Facility (GEF) confirms a record financial commitment to developing countries. During its seventh operational phase (GEF-7), the GEF will develop key programs to help implement the landscape approach, building on the momentum brought about by international partnerships such as the GLF.
>July: Backed by other Latin American countries, Pohl says the decade would put landscape restoration at the forefront of national agendas by shoring up country level efforts to meet U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 (Life on Land), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 14 (Life Below Water).
- U.N. Decade of Ecosystem Restoration would mobilize cost effective action, says El Salvador Environment Minister Lina Pohl
Leaked proposal document shows the aim of proposed decade is to “promote ecosystem connectivity and landscape management by encouraging synergy among biodiversity conservation, native vegetation restoration and maintenance of ecological processes. Intention is to reduce the consequences of biodiversity loss, climate change and promote sustainable development.
>August: Former head of UN Environment Erik Solheim says that a decade devoted to promoting the rehabilitation of degraded, damaged and destroyed ecosystems would help speed up the race against climate change and biodiversity loss ahead of GLF Nairobi 2018. In his address to delegates at GLF Nairobi, Solheim reiterates support for the decade. He urges participants to support the proposal.
The decade is now supported by the eight country members of the Central American Commission for Development and Environment (CCAD) under the Central American Integration System (SICA). Salvador Nieto, the secretary-general of the commission, travels to GLF Nairobi to promote El Salvador’s proposal.
During an AFR100 side event at GLF Nairobi, a member of the Uganda delegation says the country supports the decade.
>September: MARN concept note for proposed decade is made public. El Salvador urges all member states, including members and supporters of the Bonn Challenge, related regional initiatives, and other countries leading and participating in initiatives supporting restoration of ecosystems, to support and co-sponsor the proposal to proclaim the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030 during the 73rd Session of the U.N. General Assembly.
- El Salvador’s president urges U.N. support for decade of Ecosystem Restoration
- El Salvador president addresses general debate at 73rd UNGA
>October: At their annual meeting, all Latin American environment ministers welcome and endorse the proposal. This follows after the African Environment Minister Conference (AMCEN) also unanimously endorses El Salvador’s initiative.
>November: During the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Egypt, a decision is adopted that calls on the U.N. General Assembly to declare 2021-2030 as the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The first official written mention of the decade in the African Ministerial Declaration on Biodiversity states: “Support the proposal calling upon the United Nations General Assembly to designate the decade 2021–2030 as ‘the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration’.”
>January – March 2019:
The Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations in New York organizes a series of informal consultations with all interested Member States on the proposed Decade, and receives constructive and supportive feedback from many Member States, which shapes the final text of the General Assembly resolution.
UN Environment and FAO announce the decade, referring to it as a global call to action aimed at drawing together political support and financial muscle to take pilot restoration initiatives to areas of millions of hectares on a massive scale.