We live in interesting times. Climate action failure and biodiversity collapse now top the World Economic Forum Global Risk Index. And the world is responding.
Finally, after decades of working towards strong climate action and a full recognition of the true value and importance of nature, we are seeing serious traction across governments, private sector and civil society – but much more remains to be done. This is why the UN General Assembly established the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, with the aim to “prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.” Nothing more, nothing less!
A daunting task, perhaps, but it is an idea whose time has come, and the momentum is building quickly. 2021 saw the successful launch of the UN Decade, co-led by UNEP and FAO. Under the motto “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore,” World Environment Day was leveraged to kick off a global restoration movement.
The “Snap Challenge” through which users could show before and after effects of restoration reached 200 million people on social media, with over 4 million actively contributing. More than 42,000 media articles were published on World Environment Day and the UN Decade Launch, a 17% increase from the previous year. Millions of citizens have since engaged in #GenerationRestoration, over 100 organizations have joined the UN Decade as partners, five Task Forces and an Advisory Board have been established, and a Multi-Partner Trust Fund has been operationalized.
An interactive digital hub for the UN Decade is under development, sponsored by in-kind private sector support and following an extensive digital design and user research process testing three different prototypes. A flagship report found that country commitments to ecosystem restoration now cover 1 billion hectares worldwide – an area larger than China. These commitments will be further strengthened with the adoption of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework later this year.
In 2022, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will focus on identifying, celebrating and scaling World Restoration Flagships – the first, best, or most promising examples of large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. And we will celebrate the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration as a connector and catalyst for action across the three Rio Conventions.
The European Union and its Member States can play an important role in creating the right inspiration for #GenerationRestoration by establishing a strong and ambitious nature law, and by nominating European Flagships for worldwide recognition. The United Nations call on everyone, everywhere to join the global movement to restore Planet Earth. There is no time to lose. We are all #GenerationRestoration!