World Environment Day, which falls on 5 June, marks the official launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global push to revive natural spaces lost to development. In the lead-up to the Decade’s launch, UNEP is looking back on some of our most popular restoration-related stories, including this piece originally published in September 2020.
Against a backdrop of environmental crisis, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a chance to revive the natural world that supports us all. A decade may sound like a long time. But scientists say that these next 10 years will count most in the fight to avert climate change and the loss of millions of species.
Here are 10 actions in the strategy of the UN Decade that can build a #GenerationRestoration.
1. Empower a global movement
The UN Decade aims to stop and reverse the destruction and degradation of billions of hectares of ecosystems, from lush forests threatened by wildfires to agricultural soils so eroded that they may only carry a few more years of harvests. It is a daunting task, made more complicated by the diversity of ecosystems and the threats they are facing. No single entity can steer the course in this endeavour. The UN Decade thus connects and empowers the actions of the many. Groups and individuals can get informed about restoration opportunities in their area, joining initiatives already underway, or start their own.
2. Invest in restoration
Restoration takes resources. Organizations driving activities on the ground are often underfunded and face financial insecurity. While the benefits of restoration far outweigh the costs, it can only happen with long-term financing. Governments, international lenders, development agencies, the private sector and individuals will have to ramp up their support.
3. Set the right incentives
In the long-term, healthier ecosystems can produce bigger harvests, more secure incomes and a healthier environment. But caring for nature can also mean foregoing some of the financial gains of less sustainable practices. There are ways to change this by incentivizing restoration activities and reducing subsidies that finance harmful practices, in the agriculture and fishing industries, for example.
4. Celebrate leadership
Over the past years, we have witnessed incredible momentum around restoration. Campaigns to plant trillions of trees have captured the imagination of many communities. Under the Bonn Challenge, more than 60 countries have committed to bringing 350 million hectares of forest landscapes back to life. Indigenous peoples have acted as defenders of their ecosystems for generations. The UN Decade will celebrate leadership and encourage others to step up.
5. Shift behaviours
Deforestation, the depletion of fish stocks and the degradation of agricultural soils are all caused by global consumption patterns. The UN Decade will work with all partners to identify and encourage restoration-friendly consumption. This can range from changes in diets to promoting restoration-based products. Read more…