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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
Minister Calls on Africans to Find the Political Will to Rehabilitate Land

Maseru, Lesotho. 4 March 2014 – “Too often in the past, we have exploited, ignored and come into conflict with the needs of our environment,” said Khotso Matla, Minister of Forestry and Land Reclamation of the Kingdom of Lesotho during the observance of African Environment Day/Wangari Maathai Day which was held yesterday. This year, Lesotho in Southern Africa hosted the Day which is celebrated across Africa. The host country for the continent-wide event is held on a rotational basis by the five sub-regions. Matla concluded his remarks by saying that our challenges is “to find the political will, the vision and the common sense to get together for the radical changes that will be essential and are crucial if we really mean business. If we do not see the urgency for such changes, our independence, our sovereignty as Africans, and integrity will  be in danger of becoming just hollow words.” Attended by dignitaries and journalists from all regions of Africa, the observance event was highly symbolic. The event and addresses were delivered by the Fika-le-Mohala rock, the historic venue where King Moshoeshoe 1 (pronounced moo-shwe-shwe), Lesotho’s founding father, addressed his people on national matters, including the founding of the nation. During the celebrations, the tree planting was held in memory of Nobel Peace Prize winner the late Wangari Maathai, a renowned environmental activist and crusader for tree planting in Africa. The African Union re-titled Africa Environment Day in her honor following her demise in 2011. Addressing the Day’s theme, Combatting Desertification in Africa: Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Food Security, Rhoda Tumusiime, Africa Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture said, “it is undeniable that agriculture cannot thrive in Africa if we do not pay due attention to the rational utilization of natural resources, including water and land.” “As other regions of the world turn to Africa looking for the energy, water and food resources need to generate and power their economies, we must ensure that the continent’s abundant natural resources, are by priority, harnessed to catalyze our sustainable development,” Tumusiime added. Lesotho, a country of 2 million people is land-locked, where only 8% of the land is highly productive. The rest is a mountainous plateau, of which nearly 70% are rangelands with thin and fragile soils whose productivity is threatened by overgrazing. Leaders of various international organizations, underscored the critical nature of combating land degradation in Africa, marked the Day as the starting point of the global campaign towards the World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. Globally, over half of all agricultural land is moderately and severely degraded, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). And climate stresses account for 62.5% of all stresses on land degradation in Africa, according to the Natural Resources conservation Service of the US Department of Agriculture. National Reports submitted by Parties to the UNCCD show that all the countries in Africa claim they are affected by desertification. In her address at the celebrations, Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, Head of UNEP’s Southern African Office, said “the world has witnessed an unprecedented sharp decline in terrestrial ecosystems services and functions during the last few decades. Forests and wetlands have been converted to agricultural land to feed a growing population, but at a cost that is not sustainable” by quoting a recent UNEP report. “We need to be more efficient, in the way we produce, consume and supply our land-based products,” she said. Over 300 people, including local schools and communities in the Ha Masana area, where the historic natural rock is located, attended the celebrations and planted the trees. Some 2,000 tree seedlings were delivered for the event. Africa Environment Day was established in 2002, by a decision of the African Union Summit to raise awareness about the benefits of the environment to the lives of the African people, and the threats possible by desertification and drought, among others.     About the UNCCD Emerging from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of sustainable land management. The Convention’s 195 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands by promoting a specific global response to desertification, land gradation and drought. Each Party is expected to agree and deliver against explicit commitments according to the Convention. For more information contact: Wagaki Wischnewski External Relations, Policy and Advocacy Unit Email: wwischnewski@unccd.int Tel:  +49 173 268 7593 (mobile) For interviews contact: Yukie Hori Spokesperson, UNCCD Secretariat Email: yhori@unccd.int Tel:  +49 228 815 2829 +49 173 268 7590 (mobile)

Minister Calls on Africans to Find the Political Will to Rehabilitate Land
Tackling Desertification Critical for Our Security Warn UN leaders on Africa Environment Day

Maseru, Lesotho, 3 March 2014 – To mark Africa Environment Day, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has issued Desertification: The invisible frontline, a publication showing the link between desertification, climate change and the growing threats to national and international security. There is no systematic research to date showing that desertification, climate change and conflict interact. Scholars, leading security organizations and practitioners have often alluded to this possibility, but this is one of the first initiatives from the UNCCD recently to highlight possible relations among these dynamics. The study shows an overlap in the regions in Africa that are highly vulnerable to desertification and where seasonal temperatures as well as incidences of drought and erratic rainfall have risen over the last 40 years, with areas that had high incidences of terrorist attacks in 2012 and of conflict and food riots in 2007-2008. Food insecurity, water conflicts, migration, internal displacement, political radicalization and state failure are increasingly evident in countries where large poor populations that depend on fragile or desertified lands are increasingly exposed to extraordinary weather events, according to the report. “Climate change is bringing more extreme weather like prolonged droughts and flash floods to more communities – the communities, who are most vulnerable to desertification... World Day to Combat Desertification on the 17th of June is a unique opportunity to remind everyone that land degradation can be effectively tackled and that solutions exist,” according to Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary. Barbut delivered the remarks in Maseru, the Kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa, via a video-recorded message, at an event organized to kick-start the global campaign leading up to the 17 June World Day. The campaign promotes an ecosystem-based approach as a way to climate-proof land and secure its productivity for present and future generations. It is spearheaded by the UN and intergovernmental organizations behind the 2010-2020 UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD), including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “The loss of arable land to desertification is a huge obstacle to eradicating poverty and hunger,” said Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD. “Every day at IFAD, we are confronted with the human cost of this. Subsistence farmers, nomadic herders and other people who depend on land and rain for their survival are hit the hardest. Their land is less productive and their soil is less resilient." "For millions of people, halting desertification is a matter of life and death. When people cannot earn an income from the land or feed themselves, they must migrate or starve. If we are going to eliminate rural poverty and make communities more resilient to climate change, we have to address how land and natural resources are managed,” continued Nwanze. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Biodiveristy (CBD) emphasized the importance of the conservation, effective management, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity for ensuring the maintenance of ecosystem services in times of climate variability and change. “As sister Rio Conventions, the CBD and the UNCCD have many areas of convergence, the most significant being the work to conserve, restore and sustainably utilize dryland ecosystems,” Braulio said. “In particular, I would like to highlight Aichi Biodiversity Target 15 which calls for the enhancement of the resilience of ecosystems and the restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.” Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson said "Nowhere else in the world are the threats of desertification more inextricably linked to food security and political and economic stability than in the drylands of Africa. Since its inception, the GEF has been working with all African nations in overcoming these threats by investing in natural resource management innovations that are transformational at scale." "The GEF commitment is based on the recognition that having farmable land means engaging in good land management practices to fight desertification; making water available to support agriculture keeps rural economies strong; and supporting local livelihoods helps people not to simply survive, but thrive. From the oases of North Africa to the Sahelian region of West Africa and highlands of Eastern Africa, GEF investments have demonstrated time and again that these approaches can make a difference. Let's expand, scale up, do more, and do it better." A campaign guide with infographics, facts, data and examples of land degradation and sustainable land management were also released at the event that took place during the celebrations of the annual African Environment Day/Wangari Maathai Day being observed today across Africa. The campaign will peak on 17 June with the observance of the World Day to Combat Desertification in all countries. Resources are available here About the UNCCD Emerging from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of sustainable land management. The Convention’s 195 signatory Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands by promoting a specific global response to desertification, land gradation and drought. Each Party is expected to agree and deliver against explicit commitments according to the Convention. For more information contact: Wagaki Wischnewski External Relations, Policy and Advocacy Unit Email: wwischnewski@unccd.int Tel:  +49-173-268 7593 (mobile) For interviews contact: Yukie Hori Spokesperson, UNCCD Secretariat Email: yhori@unccd.int Tel:  +49 228 815 2829 +49 173 268 7590 (mobile)

Tackling Desertification Critical for Our Security Warn UN leaders on Africa Environment Day