Exactly ten years to restore ecosystems. How the world will change by 2030

    11 Aug 2021

    From 2021 came the Decade, which the UN called “ecosystem restoration.” What will happen?

    The United Nations designates certain days, weeks, years, and decades as an occasion to commemorate certain events or themes to acquaint the world with the purposes of the Organization. These commemorative dates are usually proposed by one or more Member States and established by resolution by the General Assembly. We are now in a decade of peace in memory of Nelson Mandela (2019-2028), family farms (2019-2028), the struggle for poverty (2018-2027), a decade of sustainable energy for all (2014-2024), and so on. In 2021, we are entering the Decade of Healthy Aging and the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

    Earlier this year, another resolution came into force, declaring 2021-2030 the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the primary purpose of which is to restore and stop the destruction and degradation of ecosystems: farm, forest, wetlands, plants, mountains, ocean, and coastal, peat bog, as well as urban.

    The UN does not set specific goals, expressed in figures and statistics. Still, in every scientist’s report, in every speech of an official quoted in the media at the beginning of the Decade, the same indicators are mentioned:

    “Restoring 350 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 could bring in $ 9 trillion in ecosystem services and release 13-26 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases.”

    The dedication of specific topics in 2021-2030 is more ideological than practical. The next decade has been declared the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, which means that projects related to this topic will be given more attention and more active sponsorship. At the end of the decade, governments should perform the following tasks:

    • Demonstrated successful public and private initiatives aimed at stopping the degradation of ecosystems, restoring those ecosystems that have degraded;
    • The exchange of knowledge about what works and why (politics, economics, and biophysical aspects) and how to carry out large-scale recovery has been expanded;
    • Combined initiatives that work in one region, region or topic, increased their effectiveness;
    • Connections have been established between the possibilities of ecosystem restoration and projects with enterprises interested in creating a reliable portfolio of sustainable production and efficient investments;

    A more comprehensive range of participants is involved, especially from sectors that are not traditionally involved, by demonstrating the importance of restoring the ecosystem for conservation, social and economic benefits.

    What will be introduced?

    Any action, from planting corals on the sea or ocean floor and reviving vegetation on a hill to large-scale restoration of a plateau or mountain range landscape, is to restore the ecosystem. It manifests itself in a variety of actions, such as the creation of new mangroves, in agroforestry, in measures to improve the quality of soil and water resources, and even in making the urban economy more resilient.

    Every government, community, environmental organization, and private enterprise will play a role in achieving the Decade’s goals. Any degraded ecosystem, including agricultural areas, savannas, wetlands, protected areas, fisheries, managed plantations, river banks, coastal areas, and more, can offer opportunities for recovery. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), as well as the United Nations International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the Global Landscapes Forum, will contribute to these goals.

    What is expected of us?

    According to scientists, the next ten years will be most important in the fight to prevent climate change and against the extinction of millions of species. The UN Decade Strategy offers ten actions that can build #GenerationRestoration:

    Expand your capabilities

    The main goal of the UN Decade is to stop and reverse the destruction and degradation of billions of hectares of ecosystems. This is a difficult task. The situation is becoming even more complex, given the vast diversity of ecosystems and the threats they face: from lush forests threatened by illegal logging and forest fires to agricultural soils so eroded that they will be harvested for a couple of years. No organization can decide where to move, so the UN Decade is designed to work together: groups and individuals can learn about opportunities for environmental restoration in their area. They can join an already implemented initiative or start their own.

    Help finance projects

    Recovery requires resources. Organizations operating on the ground are often not funded or face prolonged financial instability. Although the benefits of recovery far outweigh the costs, billions of dollars in initial investment are required. Governments, international creditors, development agencies, and private businesses will need to step up their support. People may think about donating their time or experience to a worthy initiative.

    Set priorities

    Agricultural and fisheries subsidies, which are often used to fund environmentally unjustified projects, can be used to support recovery. In the long run, healthier ecosystems can bring higher yields, more secure incomes, and a healthier environment for people.

    Take the initiative

    In recent years, we have witnessed incredible recovery dynamics. Campaigns to plant trillions of trees have inspired many, and companies have teamed up to hold mass planting festivals. As part of the Bonn Call, more than 60 countries have pledged to restore 350 million hectares of forest landscapes. The UN Decade will encourage initiative and encourage others to be more proactive.

    Change your consumer habits

    Although ecosystem restoration has specifics, the forces that cause ecosystem destruction are often linked to global trends. Deforestation, depletion of food stocks, and degradation of agricultural soils are all caused by global consumption patterns. The UN Decade will strive for the practice of smart consumption. This can be both a change in diet and the promotion of processed products.

    Invest in research

    Practices working in one ecosystem can cause adverse effects in another. As the climate changes, new uncertainties arise, and a return to the former may lead to high temperatures or changes in the nature of precipitation requiring new crops. Scientific understanding of restoring and adapting ecosystems is still evolving, so significant investment is needed to identify the best ways to restore our planet – one site at a time.

    Build capacity

    The UN urges everyone – absolutely everyone who is already working to restore the planet’s ecology – not to stop and work even harder.

    Join a culture of recovery

    Reviving the environment is a cultural challenge. That’s why the UN Decade strategy encourages artists, storytellers, producers, musicians, and partners to join #GenerationRestoration.

    Form these ideas in the minds of the younger generation

    It is young people and future generations who will suffer the most from the effects of the current rapid destruction of ecosystems. The UN Decade Strategy establishes a direct link between youth welfare and recovery goals. Rehabilitation education will turn today’s children into ambassadors of ecosystems, provide them with skills for sustainable work and ensure that the achievements of the UN Decade survive its time frame.

    Listen and learnAnd look for additional ways to help your projects. You can tell the UN about your activities if it aims to restore the environment and find out where to find more information here.

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