Sessions were organized to examine the relevant global frameworks, processes, and stakeholders necessary to address ecosystem restoration, which speakers underlined will not only solve climate change and biodiversity loss challenges but contribute to sustained economic growth.
Rio Conventions Pavilion: Restoration Day
The opening day of the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) addressed the theme of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Sessions examined relevant global frameworks, processes, and stakeholders that are necessary to address this multi-faceted area, which speakers underlined will not only solve climate change and biodiversity loss challenges, but contribute to sustained economic growth as well.
In the opening session of the day, the UN’s First Ten World Restoration Flagships were announced, spanning 23 countries with the objective of producing diverse examples of ecosystem restoration.
Lucy Mulenkei, Indigenous Information Network and Co-Chair, UN Decade Advisory Board, called for the participation of Indigenous Peoples in ecosystem restoration solutions.
Christiane Paulus, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, Germany, stressed the different ways Germany is committed to restoration including investing 40 million euros in the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund, which will direct significant funding to the newly announced flagship programme.
Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), explained how every dollar invested in restoration efforts will generate USD 30 in benefits and how FAO is leading a monitoring task force composed of 200 experts to measure progress.
Doreen Robinson, Head of Biodiversity and Land, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), acknowledged that although no target has been agreed on with respect to restoration, this Conference of the Parties must decide on a target that merges different restoration principles to advance progress on restoration.
The scene-setting session discussed major global restoration initiatives and explored how to create coherence and synergies. Panelists emphasized the multiple co-benefits of restoration activities for sustainable livelihoods, resilience, and adaptation, and called for a strong restoration target in the post-2022 global biodiversity framework (GBF).
Moderator Tim Christophersen, Salesforce, highlighted the power of volunteering and ownership, stating that #generationrestoration was a “fast growing social movement that is now unstoppable”.
Sasha Alexander, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), presented key findings the Global Land Outlook 2, highlighting land as the operative link between climate and biodiversity, and restoration as a “proactive tool to boost resilience and prepare us for the future”.
Jamal Annagylyjova, CBD, underscored that the ever-growing demands on land requires integrated land management. She called for integrated and biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning as a way to enable synergies and avoid that priorities in one convention hurt those of others.
During the ensuing panel discussion, Adriana Vidal, IUCN, emphasized that the flagship projects represent but a snippet of the thousands of inspiring projects implemented worldwide.
Salma AlSayyad, G20 Global Land Initiative, elaborated on the G20’s ambition to reduce land degradation by 50% by 2040. She shared an example of community-based restoration in Tigray that shows how even with dwindling natural capital, social capital can create long-term sustainability.
Natalia Alekseeva, UNEP, highlighted the benefits that restoration brings to communities and societies, stressing that ecosystem restoration is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Lifeng Li, FAO, discussed river, coastal, and seascape restoration and the co-benefits they deliver, and pointed to the degradation of arable land as the “elephant in the room”.
In the session on best practices, representatives from the Governments of Niger, Mexico, and China shared best practices for restoration as well as challenges. They proposed solutions to address these gaps such as: the promotion of networks; dissemination of information; connecting stakeholders globally; and knowledge exchange. Panelists representing academia, Wetlands International, and WWF also emphasized how a multi-disciplinary approach engaging Indigenous Peoples to inform and co-create solutions is paramount for success. Government representatives also underlined that scaling-up public and private finance is needed to support planned actions.
In the session #GenerationRestoration: Intergenerational Dialogue: Moving from Policy to Localized Action, panelists representing youth activists, social movements, and government and philanthropic projects showcased different ways to engage youth in the Restoration agenda. Examples included storytelling as a tool to bridge the generational and urban-rural gap, a letter-writing campaign to support the 30by30 target, direct input into policy processes, volunteering, education and training, and empowering students to support nature-positive universities.
Panelists called for acknowledging youth not only for their potential but for the contribution they are already making including in championing local restoration. One speaker emphasized the role of Indigenous girls and women as knowledge holders and restoration actors, and asked for making tools and finance available over the long-term to empower communities. Panelists also highlighted the need for older generations to make space for youth representation in management, institutions, and policy processes, stressing how their unique capacity for innovation and creativity is needed to drive a global movement for biodiversity.
The session on monitoring underscored the importance of transparency and interoperability for indicators and monitoring tools and frameworks developed in the context of ecosystem restoration efforts. It highlighted recent initiatives such as FAO’s Framework on Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring (FERM) geospatial platform and Restor’s global hub for nature restoration.
Representatives of Kazakhstan presented the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative Kazakhstan, one of the World Restoration Flagships. They described how the joint efforts of the Kazakh government and various partner organizations led to the recovery of the population of the Saiga Antilope, which in turn fuelled ecosystem restoration through normalizing grazing patterns, reducing steppe-fires.
A panel discussion focused on reporting needs for the UN Decade and the proposed GBF target 2 on restoration. Panelists highlighted the importance of making target 2 broad and inclusive. They pointed out that geospatial platforms have an important role in establishing smart connections between projects and people. They highlighted work done under the UNCCD in support of SDG indicator 15.3.1 for Land Degradation Neutrality as a good starting point for target 2. They also pointed to existing geospatial tools, developed by NGOs and in cooperation with the private sector, that support restoration efforts, and inquired how best to collaborate with FERM and other platforms, to drive innovation and work on sharing information and use resources collectively, instead of a proliferation in siloes.
In the session on science and traditional knowledge, panellists emphasized that the role of Indigenous participation and traditional knowledge for ecosystem restoration should be a two-way road where traditional knowledge contributes to solutions and solutions contribute to improving conditions for Indigenous Peoples.
Examples of how indigenous participation led to more inclusive and successful outcomes for restoration were provided by government representatives from Malawi, Cambodia and Abu Dhabi, as well as the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria and the Trinational Alliance for Atlantic Forest Restoration. They also gave examples how innovative solutions such as specialized drones and traditional knowledge have resulted in fisheries recovery, forest restoration, and coastal and marine habitats restoration.
Yolanda Lopez-Maldonado, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, provided a direct voice of Indigenous Peoples, and underscored the need to increase ambition for ecosystem restoration and our relationship with nature.
The final session of the day started by introducing two Restoration Flagship Projects.
Anita Montoute, Permanent Secretary, Government of Saint Lucia presented the Small Islands Flagship, stressing that it followed the ten principles of ecosystem restoration and will enable Saint Lucia, Vanuatu, and Comoros to “build back better and bluer”, enabling these large Ocean States to overcome obstacles that are presently inhibiting the full realization of a blue economy.
Jair Urriola Quiroz, Executive Secretary, the Central American Commission for Environment and Development, introduced the Flagship in the Central American Dry Corridor that will improve territorial governance of the productive landscape, foster improved agricultural practices, eliminate perverse incentives and promote access to sustainable financing sources and the association of different restoration initiatives under its umbrella.
Christian Peter, World Bank, explained how the role of financial institutions and mechanisms needs to be better understood by key actors in ecosystem restoration. He elaborated on the steps necessary to form partnerships and platforms that connect global investors to local actors, including a roadmap looking at the four pillars of: government and public sector; knowledge and data tools (taxonomy, CBA-tools); financial sector regulation and initiatives, financial markets and investments.
In ensuing panel discussions, representatives from commercial banks, philanthropy and multilateral development banks discussed the role of their respective institutions in making finance available for restoration. Panellists elaborated on sovereign sustainability linked bonds, strategies for creating revenue streams through natural assets and carbon offsets from natural capital, examples where philanthropy can be catalytic to unlock larger flows of capital, and the role of strong governance and reporting frameworks to enable public finance institutions to engage.
Panellists agreed on the need to find a common language and culture between project developers and the finance world as a key enabling factor to unlock investment. They highlighted the flagship projects as potentially catalytic investment opportunities. Responding to a question from the audience, panellists highlighted the importance of on-going efforts to better represent the value of nature in financial accounting, and posited the need to not only finance the green, but greening finance. A policy and governance gap creating uncertainty, and an administrative capacity gap on the part of implementing organisations were identified as key issues that need to be resolved in order to make money flow into restoration.
To wrap up the first day of the Pavilion, a reception was held for participants to further exchange ideas and key takeaways from the day.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin is covering the Rio Conventions Pavilion at COP 15 events from 13-18 December.
Organizer: FAO and UNEP
Contact: David Ainsworth | email@example.com