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Unlocking the Investment Potential of Forest & Landscape Restoration

“Eighty percent of the potential land suitable for forest and landscape restoration (FLR) can be found in drylands”, said Eduardo Rojas, Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), during the closing session of a two-days expert consultation on Private investments in Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR), co-organized by FAO and the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD on 30 June and 1 July 2015 in Rome, Italy. Rojas also underlined that FLR contributes to the provision of livelihood opportunities for communities in rural areas and the reduction of forced migration. The workshop brought together some 30 international experts from multilateral, bilateral and non-governmental organizations, research institutes and the private sector to identify ways for increasing private sector investments in FLR. Currently, it is estimated that 12 million hectares of land are degraded every year, resulting in a total stock of more than two billion hectares of degraded land that offer opportunities for restoration, and three quarters of this area being suitable for mosaic restoration.  Initiatives around the world aim at up-scaling FLR in order to contribute to global ecosystem restoration goals and promote land degradation neutrality. Impact investors like the Moringa Fund invest in agroforestry systems such as coffee plantations in order to promote sound and viable management strategies at landscape level. Private companies such as EcoPlanet Bamboo promote largescale bamboo restoration for the production of fibre. At the same time, regional initiatives such as TerrAfrica in Africa and “Initiative 20 by 20” in Latin America, as well as national initiatives such as Payment for Environmental Services for sustainable cork oak production in Portugal, supported by WWF and Coca Cola, offer a variety of mechanisms to upscale investments in FLR. The workshop identified concrete opportunities to upscale FLR, for example through aggregating financial resources at landscape level, bringing together different stakeholders and sectors involved, thus preventing inter-sectoral or resource-use conflicts. However, participants also highlighted that certain key conditions must be in place in order to tap into increased finance for FLR, including an adequate enabling investment environment, the existence of local champions with the necessary skills, and the availability of bankable investment proposals that focus on promising value chains within landscapes. Missing information on possible returns on investments (e.g. ex-ante cost benefit analysis) as well as investment risk assessment and mitigation mechanisms, unclear tenure situation, and lack of coherence among possible investors and landowners/users have been highlighted among the key barriers that need to be overcome for increased investments in FLR. In order to identify key action required to upscale FLR, FAO and the GM of the UNCCD – through its Rome Liaison Office - established a partnership to deliver a Discussion Paper on “Sustainable Finance for FLR”. The paper will review best available information, discuss issues and success stories related to FLR funding, and assess opportunities to increase access to financing in support to FLR implementation at scale. The workshop report and the Discussion Paper will be made available soon on the FAO and GM websites. All the material from the workshop, including background papers and presentations, is also available via at the links below.   Related links: Workshop materials and presentations The FAO FLR Mechanism The Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration The Bonn Challenge

Unlocking the Investment Potential of Forest & Landscape Restoration
The Global Mechanism supports forest and landscape restoration processes

“The UNCCD and its 195 country Parties work with a broad range of stakeholders not only to protect and sustainably manage land resources, but also to rehabilitate degraded land. On 20 and 21 March, the Bonn Challenge 2.0   – a high level summit – brought together governments and international organizations committed to achieving a clear vision: to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020. Of the 2 billion hectares with restoration potential, identified by the Bonn Challenge, 75% are considered mixed-use or “working” landscapes, in which people manage the land as a mosaic of multiple uses, increasing productivity in a sustainable manner while protecting natural capital for future generations. With the Bonn Challenge as a backdrop, the Global Mechanism (GM) of the UNCCD hosted two meetings which contributed to this process and also promoted relevant operational synergies between UNCCD priorities and those of relevant partner institutions working on forest and landscape restoration efforts at the country level: On 19 and 20 March, the GM hosted a meeting of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), of which it is a member. This technical meeting brought together representatives from IUCN, UNEP, WRI, USDA Forest Service, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, IUFRO, FAO, UNEP-WCMC, CIFOR, the CBD secretariat, ICRAF, and the GM/UNCCD.  It took stock of the work of GPFLR members to date, and discussed how this partnership could evolve in the near future in order to best mobilize the knowledge and expertise of its members in support of forest and landscape restoration activities on the ground. On 21 March, the GM also hosted a meeting of the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI), bringing together representatives from the CBD secretariat, the Republic of Korea’s Forest Service, Biodiversity International, UNEP-WCMC, IUFRO, FAO, CIFOR, ICRAF, ITTO, IUCN, the GEF, WRI, and the GM/UNCCD. Following the official launch of FERI at the CBD COP 12 in Korea in October 2014, this was its first operational meeting, which further defined the involvement of relevant partner organizations and the scope of upcoming activities, including the organization of relevant capacity building workshops, the assessment of degradation and restoration potential at (sub)national level, and the provision and coordination of technical support.”

The Global Mechanism supports forest and landscape restoration processes
UN Conference on Desertification Concludes with Success

Bonn, Germany, 19 April 2013 – A major conference of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), convened onto assess progress in the implementation of the Convention’s 10-Year Strategy and to find ways to enable affected countries to better address desertification and drought, concluded today with success. The eleventh session of the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC11), one of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies, took place from 15-19 April in Bonn, Germany. “This has been a very constructive discussion, where we’ve looked at what really works and where the roadblocks are. We have heard clearly from the Parties that there are too many indicators and some of them need to be revised,” Chair of CRIC 11 Mary Rowen said. “As someone, who has been involved with this Convention since 1998, I see great progress in making our efforts sustainable economically, ecologically and socially.” “The latest reporting has showed that 168 countries have declared themselves affected by desertification, whereas in the 1990s the number was 110 countries. This means that either desertification is spreading or our understanding of being affected has increased,” UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja said. Mr. Gnacadja highlighted the key achievements by the Parties, noting they have already met the overall target in awareness raising and there is a very positive trend in the number of countries that have established their financing strategies. One of the remaining challenges, he said, is translating the increased awareness into national polices through the alignment of national action programmes with The Strategy. “There has been an interactive and theme and action-oriented exchange of experiences and we can expect the impact in the years to come. We look forward to seeing how the Conference of Parties in Namibia in mid-September will take all the discussions into consideration and make informed decisions,” Gnacadja said. CRIC11 reviewed the first four operational objectives, of The Strategy, namely, advocacy, awareness raising and education; the alignment of national policy frameworks with the 10- Year Strategy; science, technology and knowledge; and capacity building. It also reviewed investments at country-level and ways to engage with the private sector and civil society organizations. In 2007, Parties to the Convention adopted the 10-Year strategy and framework for the implementation of the Convention (2008-2018) to streamline their work. They also agreed to apply the Results Based Management (RBM) approach to measure and assess progress. The approach obliges all stakeholders, from the secretariat, to Parties and civil society organizations, to report their achievements every two years using qualitative and quantitative data built on a standardized template for a better assessment of what progress is made overall. In 2009, Parties also agreed to use the indicators on poverty and land cover to assess the impact of their sustainable land management activities on affected populations and ecosystems. The 2012 reports reviewed at CRIC11 are the first to contain this data. CRIC11 Chair Rowen stated that the Committee on Science and Technology will provide guidance on the recommendations to the Parties with regard to the impact indicators and the challenges faced by affected countries in their implementation. The final report from CRIC11 with recommendations will be transferred for consideration and decision to the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), which will take place in Windhoek, Namibia, from 16 to 27 September 2013. The announcement of hosting the COP was made at the conference by Deputy Minister for Environment and Tourism of Namibia, Mr. Pohamba Shifeta, at the opening of the CRIC11. For more information please contact: Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Press and Media Officer Email: wmwangi@unccd.int, Telephone: +49-228 8152820 +49 173 268 7593 (mobile)

UN Conference on Desertification Concludes with Success
IAEA and UNCCD Join Forces to Strengthen Good Soil Management Practices in Dryland Areas

Bonn, Germany, 18 April 2013 – The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) today signed an agreement to collaborate in the nuclear technologies to strengthen the assessment of soil erosion and monitor improvements over time. The Practical Arrangement, as it is known, was signed by Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of UNCCD, and Ana Claudia Raffo-Caiado, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Technical Cooperation Programme Support and Coordination (TCPC), during the eleventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention under way in Bonn, Germany. “Land degradation threatens over 1.5 billion people in over 168 countries,” Raffo-Caiado, Director of the IAEA’s Division for Technical Cooperation Programme Support and Coordination, said during the signing ceremony. “IAEA builds country capacities to use radionuclide and stable isotopic techniques to study soil erosion and land degradation problems. These capacities are essential for soil conservation, land use planning and decision making,” she added. Gnacadja said “this practical cooperation with IAEA will help Parties to the Convention to gain access to technical support on the application of isotopic and nuclear techniques to assess the soil and water status and identify hot spots of land degradation.” “And it is a timely cooperation. Last week, scientists lamented the lack of bio-physical data on the status of soil and water. This week, representatives of the Parties have shared the capacity challenges they faced in measuring the impact of their activities on change in the land cover. This technology enables willing Parties to transcend such challenges,” he said. The Practical Arrangement, which runs until 31 December 2017, aims to, at once, enhance conservation of land and soil resources for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability and support the health and productivity of drylands for the well-being of present and future generations. Studies suggest that over 20 billion hectares of fertile soil is lost through the erosion of cropland every year and that every 10 years, in the drylands, an area the size of South Africa becomes unproductive just from desertification and drought. Many of the 195 Parties to the UNCCD have elaborated their national action programmes in order to reverse these trends. Last year, world leaders agreed to strive for a land-degradation neutral world so that further land degradation is avoided. Where it is inevitable, degrading land would be offset by restoring an equivalent amount of degraded land, ideally in the same ecosystem and the same timeframe. The leaders also mandated the UNCCD to monitor, globally, land degradation and land restoration in the drylands. “With the help of IAEA and these nuclear techniques, we can improve our understanding of and access to high quality data on land and soil dynamics. By preventing degradation and rehabilitating degraded land we are protecting one of the world’s most vital, almost non-renewable, natural resources, and building the resilience of populations and ecosystems,” Gnacadja said. The Arrangement enables UNCCD Parties willing to participate in IAEA soil management projects to strengthen the scientific basis of the Convention and advocacy by applying the science of radionuclides in efforts to improve land productivity and minimize the impacts of drought. “The IAEA technical cooperation programme in soil and water management uses radionuclides to assess the extent and amount of soil erosion, the effectiveness of soil and water conservation strategies in retaining water and applied nutrients for food production under both rainfed and irrigated agricultural systems,” Raffo-Caiado stated. “IAEA projects also use environmentally friendly tracer elements to determine optimal placement and timing of fertilizers and water, to identify crop residue management practices and to determine how much nitrogen plants can capture from the atmosphere,” she added. Cooperation is foreseen in the exchange and dissemination of information, participation in relevant scientific networks and activities, and in joint educational and training courses. For further information, on the Arrangement contact: International Atomic Energy Agency: Rick Kastens, Section Head, Strategic Partnerships, Department of Technical Cooperation, IAEA. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:  Louise Baker, Senior Adviser – Partnerships UNCCD.  For media interviews, contact: Komila Nabiyeva, Knabiyeva@unccd.int

IAEA and UNCCD Join Forces to Strengthen Good Soil Management Practices in Dryland Areas
Cost of Inaction on Desertification Higher than Cost of Action, Scientists Conclude

Bonn, Germany, 14 April 2013 – Desertification, the degradation of the land in the world’s dryland areas, now affects 168 countries that are Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the latest reports submitted by the Parties show. This is much higher than previous estimations of 110 countries. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD made the revelation today during the opening of the eleventh session of the Convention’s subsidiary body that reviews progress in the Convention’s implementation – the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC). CRIC 11 is meeting from 15-19 April in Bonn, Germany. “We are at the half-way point of implementing the 10-year strategy for 2008-2018. Preliminary results from the latest reporting shows that some of the targets have been met, but the policy-related targets are far from being achieved,” Gnacadja said. “This interssessional meeting of the CRIC is vitally important. It gives Parties and observers a chance to discuss and learn from each other about what works and what needs more work in terms of addressing drought and land degradation in drylands,” said Mary Rowen, Chair of CRIC 11. “We are at a point where we are examining our impact indicators and are also looking at progress on some of our process indicators. We are looking forward to a robust and lively exchange of views on implementation of the first four operational objectives of the 10-year strategy,” she added. These first four operational objectives are advocacy, awareness raising and education, the alignment of national policy frameworks with the 10-Year Strategy, science, technology and knowledge, and, lastly, capacity building. “We will also be discussing investments at the country implementation level and look forward to gaining a better understanding of national and multi-national financial flows. In addition, we will discuss how best to engage the private sector as we move forward,” she said. In 2007, Parties to the Convention adopted the 10-Year strategy and framework for the implementation of the Convention (2008-2018) to streamline their work. They also agreed to apply the Results Based Management (RBM) approach to measure and assess progress. The approach obliges all stakeholders, from the secretariat, Parties to civil society organizations, to report their achievements every two years using qualitative and quantitative data built on a standardized template for a better assessment of what progress is made overall. In 2009, Parties also agreed to use the indicators on poverty and land cover to assess the impact of their sustainable land management activities on affected populations and ecosystems. The most recent reports are the first to contain this data. In the first reporting cycle, 2010-2011, 112 countries submitted the reports by the deadline. In the 2012-2013 cycle, a total of 80 reports were submitted by Parties. “This is the second reporting cycle using performance indicators. With these reports we can now carry out a trend analysis that tells us how we are doing,” Gnacadja said. “This is also the first time that Parties have provided data on the impact of their activities on poverty and change in the land cover in the areas affected by desertification. Less than half of the Parties submitted this information by the deadline for submission, but it is still a good start. It provides a baseline from which to assess improvements” he said. CRIC11 Chair Rowen said the session “will strive to encourage exchange of information and ideas among participants so that at the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to be convened later this year, Parties can take decisions based on the information gained that will support measures to enhance the implementation at national, sub-regional and regional level in line with the Convention's strategic framework.” CRIC 11 will end Friday, 19 April, with recommendations for action by the Conference of the Parties. During the opening session, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Namibia, made the offer to host the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties in September 2013. For more information contact: Wagaki Mwangi UNCCD Press and Media Officer Email: wmwangi@unccd.int +49 228 8152820 +49 173 2687593 (mobile)

Cost of Inaction on Desertification Higher than Cost of Action, Scientists Conclude