UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Declared

Joint UN Environment & FAO press release

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, declared on March 1st by the UN General Assembly, aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.

The degradation of land and marine ecosystems undermines the well-being of 3.2 billion people and costs about 10 per cent of the annual global gross product in loss of species and ecosystems services. Key ecosystems that deliver numerous services essential to food and agriculture, including supply of freshwater, protection against hazards and provision of habitat for species such as fish and pollinators, are declining rapidly.

We are pleased that our vision for a dedicated Decade has become reality”, said H.E. Lina Pohl, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador, a regional restoration leader. “We need to promote an aggressive restoration program that builds resilience, reduces vulnerability and increases the ability of systems to adapt to daily threats and extreme events.“

Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

“The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will help countries race against the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss”, said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). “Ecosystems are being degraded at an unprecedented rate. Our global food systems and the livelihoods of many millions of people depend on all of us working together to restore healthy and sustainable ecosystems for today and the future.”

“UN Environment and FAO are honoured to lead the implementation of the Decade with our partners,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment. We are excited that momentum for restoring our natural environment has been gaining pace because nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.“

The Decade, a global call to action, will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration from successful pilot initiatives to areas of millions of hectares.

The Decade will accelerate existing global restoration goals, for example the Bonn Challenge, which aims to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. Currently 58 countries, sub-national governments and other entities have committed to bring over 170 million hectares under restoration. The Bonn Challenge is supported by regional initiatives including Initiative 20x20 in Latin America that aims to bring 20 million hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2020, and the AFR100 African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative that aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land under restoration by 2030.

Ecosystem restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of degraded ecosystems such as landscapes, lakes and oceans, in order to regain their ecological functionality.  Using the Decade to accelerate and scale progress on the existing global Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) can contribute to nature and people in many ways, including by improving the productivity and capacity of ecosystems to meet the needs of society. The Decade will also be fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals - mainly those on climate change, poverty eradication, food security, water and biodiversity conservation; as well as commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Currently, about 20 per cent of the planet’s vegetated surface shows declining trends in productivity with fertility losses linked to erosion, depletion and pollution in all parts of the world. By 2050 degradation and climate change could reduce crop yields by 10 per cent globally and by up to 50 per cent in certain regions.