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Hot off the press: Goals and Commitments for the Restoration Decade. A global overview of countries’ restoration commitments under the Rio Conventions and other pledges

There is increased political and scientific attention for land and ecosystem restoration, and 2021 will see the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This attention comes from the multiple benefits that restoration provides and has translated into a large number of countries setting restoration goals and commitments under different UN Conventions and other initiatives  

This policy brief provides an inventory of these national commitments and provides an estimate of the total current global restoration ambition level, where these commitments are located, geographically, and what they entail . 

Finally, it provides insights into where and how to improve future national plans for restoration.

About the new publication: This policy brief provides an inventory of these national commitments and provides an estimate of the total current global restoration ambition level, where these commitments are located, geographically, and what they entail . Finally, it provides insights into where and how to improve future national plans for restoration.   

Table 1.1 provides an overview of Agreements and initiatives with goals or objectives addressing restoration and improved land management, on page 14 you will find The size of current commitments under the Rio Conventions and the Bonn Challenge, table 2.2 on page 17 provides information on Total range of estimates. The (almost) 1 billion in restoration commitments is a nice figure to communicate.

This overview of the quantitative country commitments under the Rio Conventions and the Bonn Challenge provides a set of insights into further development of national commitments on restoration towards achieving globally agreed goals. Land is our life and our future. Every effort in land degradation neutrality and land restoration pays back to us , to our children and our common future.

  • The multiple benefits of restoration, from local to global scales, are reflected in the array of global and regional goals for restoration

The year 2021 will see the kick-off of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration — a culmination of growing global attention, agreements and ambitions for restoration and improved land management. Measures that help to restore land and improve its management can offer multiple benefits to society simultaneously — contributing to food and water security, and helping to address biodiversity loss and mitigate and adapt to climate change. This diversity of benefits has resulted in restoration commitments submitted by countries across international conventions on climate, biodiversity and desertification and voluntary initiatives, such as the Bonn Challenge.

  • Quantitative commitments on restoration under the Rio Conventions and the Bonn Challenge have been submitted by 115 countries

The total global ambitions on restoration can be aggregated from the array of commitments countries have made under different conventions and goals. In total, 115 countries have put forward quantitative, area-based commitments to at least one of the three Rio Conventions (the CBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC) or to the Bonn Challenge. Many countries have provided commitments to more than one of these, many of which differing in size or type of restoration measures. Hence, the need to bring them together to take stock of the total global commitments.
 

  • The total of all restoration commitments by countries is close to 1 billion hectares, almost half of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa

The middle estimate in this policy brief totals close to 1 billion hectares (estimate range 765–1 billion hectares under various assumptions). This is significant, compared to current land use (4.7 billion ha cropland and grazing land), projections of land-use change (0.5 billion ha are expected to be converted into agriculture between 2010 and 2050), and estimates of land degradation (0.9 to 1.1 billion ha showing declining trends in productivity). Almost half of the restoration commitments are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Central and South America, China and South Asia. Relatively few commitments have been made by countries in North America, Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The commitments appear roughly balanced between planned measures that focus on restoration and protection of natural areas, and on management and rehabilitation of agricultural and forestry areas.

  • Efforts are required to improve the alignment, measurability and geographic specificity of commitments

National plans, in general, do not appear to be aligned between conventions when it comes to quantitative restoration commitments. Improvement, here, could enhance planning and implementation. Also, many countries have additional qualitative commitments for restoration that lack specificity and are difficult to measure and, thus, to evaluate or monitor. Commitments need to be measurable, geographically specific and transparent to create realistic targets and to help monitor progress, as well as provide transparency to land users. Differences in reporting styles also pose a challenge for comparing restoration
commitments and progress on restoration within and between countries and conventions.
 

  • Opportunities to move from commitments to implementation

At the onset of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in 2021, the plans and commitments are there, but how and to what extent these national plans and commitments will be implemented over the coming decade remains to be seen. The country commitments, and the overview presented here, could be used as a benchmark for evaluating implementation and reporting progress against existing commitments. There are upcoming opportunities to develop better alignment between restoration commitments under the different conventions and the Bonn Challenge, including new national plan cycles in, for instance, the CBD or UNFCCC, as well as the new restoration monitoring framework led by the FAO.

Read more from the new PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency Goals and Commitments for the Restoration Decade. A global overview of countries’ restoration commitments under the Rio Conventions and other pledges  policy brief here

ABOUT: PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is the national institute for strategic policy analysis in the fields of the environment, nature and spatial planning. We contribute to improving the quality of political and administrative decision-making by conducting outlook studies, analyses and evaluations in which an integrated approach is considered paramount. Policy relevance is the prime concern in all of our studies. We conduct solicited and unsolicited research that is both independent and scientifically sound.

Further reading from UNCCD LIBRARY:

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