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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
UNCCD Announces 2014 Winners of Land for Life Award

Top sustainable land management prize totaling USD 70,000 goes to development organizations in Afghanistan and Republic of Korea Washington D.C., United States, June 17 2014 – For the third year running, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has announced the winners of the 2014 Land for Life Award with a USD70,000 cash award, to two organizations that showed tangible evidence in combating desertification, land degradation and drought. The announcement was made during the worldwide celebrations of the World Day to Combat Desertification taking place today. Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountains Areas (COAM) from Afghanistan and Green Asia Network (GAN) from the Republic of Korea will share the first prize award of USD 35,000 each. COAM is a non-governmental organization working in Afghanistan. Green Asia Network works in Mongolia but plans to expand its work across other dryland Asian countries. H.E. Mr Uahekua Herunga, Minister of Tourism and Environment of Namibia and the President the UNCCD 11th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), announced the winners at the global observance event of the World Day taking place at the World Bank Headquarters, in Washington D.C., United States. The village of Adi Shimhabty in Eritrea received a special mention from the jury for its achievements in involving the community to regenerate degraded land in Eritrea’s dryland areas. “The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its partner organizations recognize the champions of sustainable land management in a variety of ways – including the Land for Life Award” said Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UNCCD. “These are the people, mostly fantastic civil society leaders, who promote grassroots action and keep the land healthy and productive” she added.  The Award’s independent jury is made up of sustainable development experts from academia, government and civil society, among them, Professor Joachim von Braun, Director of the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn and Dr. Mary Seely from the Desert Research Foundation in Namibia. Notes to Editors:  Below is a summary about the winners, a quote from each organization and from Ms. Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary, UNCCD. The Conservation Organisation for Afghan Mountains Areas (COAM), Afghanistan Decades of war, extreme poverty and severe climate conditions in Afghanistan have led to severely degraded range-lands that are at risk of desertification. COAM’s interventions include the introduction of solar water heaters, bio-briquettes, tree planting, gravity-fed irrigation systems and watershed management planning. Their ‘clean cook stoves’ and other green technologies reduce the pressure on natural resources in vulnerable rangelands by 50% and provides health and livelihood benefits for women and families. Over 300 villages with more than 3000 households located in two districts in Bamyan province have benefitted directly. These are outstanding achievements under the challenging conditions of a country in transition. The work is driven by experienced youth and values the role of women in sustainable land management.  Quote from COAM: “COAM is greatly honored and thrilled to receive the Land for Life Award.” said the Execitive Director of COAM, Ms. Habiba Amiri.  “I want to take this occasion to thank all the people who have been supported, helped, and worked very hard to move COAM forward for the better application of its aim in Afghanistan. And of course a special thanks and appreciation to the UNCCD for selecting COAM as the first winner of Land for Life Award.” Green Asia Network (GAN), Republic of Korea  In Mongolia, 78% of the land is affected by desertification. This is life threatening because Mongolia depends a lot on livestock farming. GAN concentrates on three areas – the environment, society and economy. It is promoting self-reliance by creating a variety of economic opportunities for affected people at the local level. GAN has trained thousands of locals in forestry practices and sustainable agriculture and engaged as many as 25,000 volunteers to plant trees in the region among other activities.  Participants receive a wage. GAN also operates eco-tours that provide a close view of climate change impacts and allows participants to work on forestry project initiatives. Some of GAN’s participants are eco-refugees that return from the urban areas to the countryside. Upon their return, many are astounded at the transformation of the land they had once abandoned. GAN plans to expand its work to Myanmar, with a focus on building local infrastructure such as tube wells, generators, water tanks and fencing among other activities. Quote from GAN: "Climate change and desertification have affected low land productivity causing poverty in local communities. Since 1998, Green Asia Network has worked to improve the livelihoods of these affected communities and to restore the ecosystem by applying a model, which we developed,” said the Secretary General of Green Asia Network, Mr. Oh, Ki-Chul, “This model can be applied to areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are facing similar conditions. We are honored to receive the first place Land for Life Award. It encourages the local communities we work with, our staff and our volunteers, all of whom are dedicated and committed to our work." About the Land for Life Award The Land for Life award programme is a collaborative initiative between the UNCCD and the Korea Forest Service, Elion Resources Group, China, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Environment Facility, International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Qatar National Food Security Programme. About the UNCCD Desertification, along with climate change and the loss of biodiversity, were identified as the greatest challenges to sustainable development during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Established in 1994, UNCCD is the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment, development and the promotion of healthy soils. The Convention’s 195 Parties work to alleviate poverty in the drylands, maintain and restore the land’s productivity, and mitigate the effects of drought.

UNCCD Announces 2014 Winners of Land for Life Award