2021 World Environment Day: UNEP, FAO to launch ecosystem report

Ifunanya Ojukwu

The United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) and  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will on Thursday June 3, release a new report tagged: #GenerationRestoration: Ecosystem Restoration for People, Nature and Climate.

This is coming ahead of World Environment Day(WED) on Saturday, June 5 and the launch of the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
‘The report draws on the latest science to document the urgent need to restore the ecosystems that support all life on earth.’

It also highlights the financial investment required for restoration in the coming decade, and its potential returns for people and nature,’ a statement said.
The manual will be unveiled at a virtual press briefing that will include a question and answer session with members of the media.

UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen and FAO  Director General, FAO Donyung Qu will lead other top environmentalists to the global event.
The list included  Eduardo Mansur, Director, Environment, Climate and Biodiversity Office, FAO, Luc Gnacadja, Chair, Report Steering Committee and Barnabas Dickson, Lead Author, Nature for Climate Branch, UNEP.
The theme for this year’s WED is ‘Ecosystem Restoration,’ to boost activities towards growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts.

Ecosystem restoration, according to Geneva  Environment Network(GEN)  means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact.
The international consortium is a co-operative partnership of over 75 environment and sustainable development organizations based in the Geneva area, including UN offices and programmes, local authorities, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

‘This is the generation that can make peace with nature. Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases,’ it noted.
‘Restoration can happen in many ways – for example through actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible – or desirable – to return an ecosystem to its original state. We still need farmland and infrastructure on land that was once forest, for instance, and ecosystems, like societies, need to adapt to a changing climate.’

What this means in practical terms is that, ‘between now and 2030, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services. Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.’

The group said ‘the economic benefits of such interventions exceed nine times the cost of investment, whereas inaction is at least three times more costly than ecosystem restoration.’
‘All kinds of ecosystems can be restored, including forests, farmlands, cities, wetlands and oceans. Restoration initiatives can be launched by almost anyone, from governments and development agencies to businesses, communities and individuals. That is because the causes of degradation are many and varied, and can have an impact at different scales.’
Every June 5 WED is hosted by a different country, in which official celebrations take place, and this year’s host is Pakistan.

The Pakistani government  plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through a ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami‘ spread over five years. The campaign includes restoring mangroves and forests, as well as planting trees in urban settings, including schools, colleges, public parks and green belts.

Through the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, Pakistan is contributing to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort linked to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Under the challenge, countries are pledging to bring 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2030.

Meanwhile the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) has proclaimed the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, following a proposal and resolution for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes.
Actually this is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature.

‘It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems, and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.
‘The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Led by UNEP and FAO, the campaign’s focus is to build a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future.’

It will also catalyze ‘the political momentum for restoration as well as thousands of initiatives on the ground.’

Comment here