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Becoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate - UNEP synthesis report launched

The reportBecoming #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate, highlights that humanity is using about 1.6 times the amount of services that nature can provide sustainably. That means conservation efforts alone are insufficient to prevent large-scale ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss.

  • Global terrestrial restoration costs – not including costs of restoring marine ecosystems – are estimated to be at least USD 200 billion per year by 2030. The report outlines that every 1 USD invested in restoration creates up to USD 30 in economic benefits.

Ecosystems requiring urgent restoration include farmlands, forests, grasslands and savannahs, mountains, peatlands, urban areas, freshwaters, and oceans

This report presents the case for why we all must throw our weight behind a global restoration effort. Drawing on the latest scientific evidence, it explains the crucial role played by ecosystems from forests and farmland to rivers and oceans, and charts the losses that result from our poor stewardship of the planet.

For example:

  • around one third of the world’s farmland is degraded,
  • about 87 per cent of inland wetlands worldwide have disappeared since 1700, and
  • one third of commercial fish species are overexploited.
  • Degradation is already affecting the well-being of an estimated 3.2 billion people – that is 40 per cent of the world’s population.
  • Every single year, we lose ecosystem services worth more than 10 per cent of our global economic output.
  • If we can manage to reverse this trend, massive gains await us.
  • Reviving ecosystems and other natural solutions could contribute over one third of the total climate mitigation needed by 2030.
  • Restoration can also curb the risk of mass species extinctions and future pandemics.
  • Agroforestry alone could increase food security for 1.3 billion people.
  • Restoration on a global scale requires sustained investments.

But there is growing evidence that it more than pays for itself.

For example,

  • restoring coral reefs to good health by 2030 could yield an extra USD 2.5 billion a year for both Mesoamerica and Indonesia; having doubled its forest cover since the 1980s,
  • Costa Rica has seen ecotourism grow to account for 6 per cent of GDP.

While restoration science is a youthful discipline, we already have the knowledge and tools we need to halt degradation and restore ecosystems.

  • Farmers, for instance, can draw on proven restorative practices such as sustainable farming and agroforestry.
  • Landscape approaches that give all stakeholders – including women and minorities – a say in decision-making are simultaneously supporting social and economic development and ecosystem health.
  • And policy makers and financial institutions are realizing the huge need and potential for green investment.

Among the Key messages:

  1. Countries need to deliver on their existing commitments to restore 1 billion hectares of degraded land and make similar commitments for marine and coastal areas
  2. Unfortunately, we are still going in the wrong direction.
  3. Ecosystem restoration is needed on a large scale in order to achieve the sustainable development agenda
  4. Ecosystem restoration delivers multiple benefits. It is one of the most important ways of delivering nature-based solutions for societal challenges.
  • Half of the world’s GDP is dependent on nature, and every dollar invested in restoration creates up to USD 30 dollars in economic benefits.
  • Restoring productive ecosystems is essential to supporting food security. Restoration through agroforestry alone has the potential to increase food security for 1.3 billion people.
  • Restoring the populations of marine fish to deliver a maximum sustainable yield could increase fisheries production by 16.5 million tonnes, an annual value of USD 32 billion.
  • Actions that prevent, halt and reverse degradation are needed if we are to keep global temperatures below 2°C. Such actions can deliver one-third of the mitigation that is needed by 2030. This could involve action to better manage some 2.5 billion hectares of forest, crop and grazing land (through restoration and avoiding degradation) and restoration of natural cover over 230 million hectares.
  • Large-scale investments in dryland agriculture, mangrove protection and water management will make a vital contribution to building resilience to climate change, generating benefits around four times the original investment.
  • With careful planning, restoring 15 per cent of converted lands while stopping further conversion of natural ecosystems could avoid 60 per cent of expected species extinctions.

5. Achieving successful ecosystem restoration at scale will require deep changes

6. Everyone has a role to play in ecosystem restoration.

7. Achieving the aims of the UN Decade will require action by many.

We call on:

  • Governments to ensure that their COVID-19 recovery plans incorporate significant allocations for ecosystem restoration as a central component to delivering a green, sustainable and fair recovery. Currently, only about 18 per cent of recovery stimulus plans can be characterized as ‘green’.
  • Parties to deliver on existing commitments under the Rio Conventions and the Bonn Challenge to restore 1 billion hectares of land.
  • Donors and institutions working on coastal and marine restoration to develop and deliver on ambitious restoration goals equivalent at least to the Bonn Challenge.
  • Public and private financial institutions and regulatory bodies to develop and strengthen instruments and mechanisms to ensure that finance flows support – and do not compromise – restoration efforts.
  • Indigenous peoples and local communities across the world to build on their knowledge, experience and capacity for action to help achieve restoration goals.
  • Youth organizations to play an active leadership role in ecosystem restoration locally, nationally and globally and to actively participate in the governance and implementation of the UN Decade.

Key messages are available in 7 more languages , please follow the link to the UNEP page below

Follow the link here Becoming #GenerationRestoration ( and hover each country from the map to see country's commitment to restoration, in focus are 8 ecosystems to restore, see also the global gains of restoration.

Degradation is already affecting the well-being of an estimated 3.2 billion people - that is 40 per cent of the world's population”, said Ms. Andersen and Mr. Dongyu. “Every single year, we lose ecosystem services worth more than 10 per cent of our global economic output,” but "massive gains” are possible if these trends can be reversed, they added. 

To achieve land restoration targets by 2030, UNEP and FAO estimate that investment of at least $200 billion per year by 2030 will be needed. Amid concerns about where this funding might come from, the UN report noted that every $1 invested in restoration is expected to create up to 30 times that amount in economic benefits.

The European Commission will put forward a proposal for legally binding nature restoration targets in 2021. Major climate and biodiversity conferences scheduled for 2021 are an opportunity to crank up our ambitions, especially for marine and coastal areas. But what we really need is implementation, and the commitment of resources to make it happen.

unep report 8 ecosystemsmap country committments