Rome: Leaders of global politics, science, communities, religion and culture joined together today to officially launch the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration – a rallying call for protection and the revival of millions of hectares of ecosystems around the world for the benefit of people and nature.
Led by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Decade for Restoration – which runs from 2021 to 2030 – has been proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in a 2019 resolution.
The launch took the form of a high-level virtual gala with the participation, alongside the heads of UNEP and FAO and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, which hosts World Environment Day on June 5. year; Pope Francis; Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and President of the African Union; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; and the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. Among the global figures who spoke were United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall and other goodwill ambassadors, advocates, youth representatives, scientists and CEOs.
“By restoring ecosystems, we can drive a transformation that will help achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals. The task is monumental. We need to replant and protect our forests. We need to clean up our rivers and seas. And we need to green our cities, ”the UN secretary general said in his message. “Accomplishing these things will not only protect the planet’s resources. It will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate more than $ 7 trillion in income each year and help eradicate poverty and hunger.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, noting that increasing pressure on the world’s natural resources is affecting the well-being of 40 percent of the world’s population, called for a change in mindset.
“Business as usual is not an option! »He stressed. “We must prevent, stop and reverse the degradation of ecosystems around the world, including our farmlands and forests; our rivers and oceans. More efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems can help restore ecosystems and safeguard sustainable food production, leaving no one behind, ”he added.
“We must use this moment in history to launch a massive global movement to save our terrestrial and marine ecosystems even as we continue to decarbonise ourselves. Everyone has something to do here, ”said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen. “Governments must ensure that COVID-19 stimulus packages contribute to a sustainable and equitable recovery from the pandemic. Businesses and the financial sector must reform financial operations and flows so that they restore the natural world. And as individuals and consumers, it’s time to rethink choices, demand deforestation-free products, and vote for sustainability in voting booths.
“Restoring the nature that we have damaged means, in the first place, restoring ourselves,” Pope Francis said in a video message relayed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State. “We welcome this United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, be compassionate, creative and courageous. May we take our rightful place as the “generation of the restoration”. “
The Decade aims to inspire and support governments, multilateral organizations, civil society, private sector businesses, youth, women’s groups, indigenous peoples, farmers, local communities and individuals around the world, to collaborate, develop and catalyze restoration initiatives around the world. The effort will involve a series of activities. They range from reorienting tax incentives and financial flows to promote restoration to conducting research on the restoration of terrestrial and marine environments, building the technical capacity of restoration practitioners globally and monitoring progress. worldwide in catering.
The Decade aims to mobilize hundreds of millions of people to restore nature and foster a global culture of restoration in which restoration initiatives are intensified across the planet.
“The world has no choice but to embark on a positive path for nature which will not only stimulate the economy but also protect the environment,” said Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, whose country embarked on an ambitious 10 billion euros plantation plan in 2019. trees.
Welcoming the launch of the United Nations Decade, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and President of the African Union, noted that the African continent had made multiple commitments through several regional declarations, commitments, calls to action and pilot activities. , but it was necessary to mobilize the necessary resources and expertise to carry out large-scale implementation.
“The restoration of terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems must be undertaken in such a way as to avoid creating land conflicts or conflicts of use,” he added. “It must therefore be part of visionary spatial planning processes that take into account intersectoral compromises, respecting the land and land rights of local communities and other vulnerable social groups.
In her message, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “We must do more to protect and restore natural habitats – and we must do it now, not in the future. “
“We must now ensure that the forests, which we especially need to regulate our climate, are protected and restored,” she added.
The Chancellor also announced that Germany would be the first country to provide funding – € 14 million – to the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.
The launch of the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration leads today to World Environment Day, June 5, the flagship day of the United Nations to promote global environmental awareness and action. Organized under the theme of ecosystem restoration, this year’s World Environment Day is hosted by Pakistan, which will mark the day and start of the United Nations Decade with an event to be held in Islamabad and chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan with the participation of a host of dignitaries from around the world including UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen and senior officials from FAO, UN-Habitat and UNDP, as well as senior officials from countries like Germany and Saudi Arabia.