Ecosystem Restoration Gets a New Spotlight with UN Declaration Decade
By admin March 11, 2019

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Humans have an impact on the environment, for better or for worse. Destruction, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, pollution, the list of harmful effects humans have on the planet can seem endless. So, what are some positive actions humans are taking to reverse the damage done to the planet? The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 2021- 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Humans can implement changes in behaviors that promote environmental conservation, reforestation, and pollution reduction.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have been selected to lead the implementation of the Decade, in collaboration with the Secretariats of the Rio Conventions, other relevant multilateral environmental agreements and entities of the UN system. Declaring a decade of ecosystem restoration fits into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. It also aligns with the post-2020 framework for global biodiversity called the 2050 Vision “Living in harmony with nature.”

UNEP highlighted that restoration could remove up to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and could possibly restore more than 2 billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the top cocoa producing countries in west Africa, are partnering up with chocolate and cocoa companies to release action plans that would end deforestation and restore forest areas. The action plans grew from prior pledges to end deforestation and revive forests. In November 2017, the Cocoa & Forest Initiative was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

From 2001 to 2017, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana lost 17 percent and 13 percent of their respective forest cover. The action plans include government implementation of land use and socio-economic surveys, development of farm mapping and traceability systems to ensure cocoa is sourced legally, investment in incentive-based systems to promote environmentally sustainable agricultural practices, and the use of satellite monitoring to track illegal deforestation hotspot areas. Rick Scobey, the president of the World Coca Foundation, said the company action plans will include specific commitments for forest restoration, for example, the company will distribute and plant 12.6 million native trees, develop 400,000 hectares of cocoa agroforestry, and sign contracts for payments for environmental services with 215,000 farmers by 2022.

The action plans also address the farmers’ livelihoods, community engagement and social inclusion. Cocoa farmers and their families’ wellbeing should be a key priority as they need tools and investment to sustain their businesses. In Ghana, collaboration between agribusiness, civil society and academia led to SAT4Farming, a digital and remote-sensing technology to create farm development plans. Peter Oppong, a cocoa farmer in Ghana, used the digital development plan to begin replacing his aging trees. He was only able to start with one-quarter of his land because of the high cost, but he plans to add another quarter each year until he has replaced them all. According to Barry Callebaut, the financial sector can provide farmers affordable microcredit loans to fund good farming practices.

Restoration requires action from everyone working together and mobilizing resources to save the planet. Tim Christopherson, chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration from UN Environment, said everybody can plant a tree, once the tree is planted, it will need nurturing just like a child. He also said that the public can push for policy changes that would shift fossil fuel subsidies away from oil and gas and toward restoring ecosystems. The next steps for UNEP and FAO will be to develop a plan for agencies to agree on and partner with and reach out to all countries. A series of events this year and next year will take place around the globe that will lead into the Decade. Ultimately, what is needed is the political will, the money, and the capacity all coming together says Christopherson.


For more information:

UNGA Proclaims UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

A decade to restore the health of ‘patient’ Earth

Sustainable cocoa: Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana joint action plan to end deforestation and restore forests is “milestone moment”

Coffee, cocoa, and the cutting edge

Thanks for sharing !

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