10 principles designed to guide the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration
Faced with an alarming rate of global landscape degradation, a coalition of global organizations launched key principles for ecosystem restoration on September 7 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France . The principles underpin the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), which aims to restore the health of degraded ecosystems in a way that benefits both people and nature.
“If we can’t stop the degradation, all of our restoration activities will be for naught,” said James Hallett, president of the Society for Ecological Restoration, in an interview. round table on the principles of restoration.
Based on input from restoration experts, government officials, researchers, Indigenous groups and others, the principles center on an initial framework for global contribution. This principle emphasizes the need to ensure restoration on a cumulative and sustainable scale. The remaining nine principles emphasize a best practice approach that draws on local knowledge and the ideas of indigenous groups.
Two working groups, one focused on best practices led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the other focused on science led by IUCN, as well as participants to a global consultative process and members of a number of other organizations involved during the Decade, provided feedback on the 10 principles, refining them to guide the United Nations Decade and provide a shared vision of ecosystem restoration activities. Above all, these activities also contribute to limiting the rise in global temperature within the framework of the Paris climate agreements and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The principles of ecosystem restoration will be an essential tool to guide the implementation of the United Nations Decade and maximize the sustainable production of goods and services,” said Christophe Besacier, co-leader of the Working Group on the best Practices and Coordinator of Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism at FAO.
Over the next decade, countries have engaged to restore 1 billion hectares, an amount of degraded land equivalent to the size of China. During this time, 4.2 million hectares of primary tropical forests – an area the size of the Netherlands – were lost in 2020. Coastal communities, coral reefs, peatlands, mangroves and other fragile landscapes are also threatened as the climate continues to warm and the weather conditions extremes are becoming the norm. Landscape degradation threatens biodiversity, with around 1 million endangered species, as well as the well-being of billions of people.
Restoration principles are seen as a key element in reversing these landscape declines.
“These 10 principles meet two needs,” Andrea Romero Montoya, FAO consultant and working group facilitator, said in an email. “The first is the need for a shared vision of ecosystem restoration. The second is the need for principles underlying all restoration activities that are part of the ecosystem restoration continuum defined by the United Nations Decade, and that are applicable in all sectors, biomes and regions.
Next steps include defining criteria for good restoration practices, establishing best practices to guide practitioners, and translating the principles and standards into multiple languages. Engagement with local communities and indigenous groups will also be essential, as will funding for ecosystem restoration activities.
Said Luc Gnacadja, IUCN Congress panelist, President of Governance and Policies for Sustainable Development (GPS-Dev) and President of the United Nations Decade of Science Task Force, said: “It will take time to reap the benefits of ecosystem restoration while using a bottom-up approach. But we [now] have something to plan.