Ecosystem Restoration


Article 8 (f) of the Convention states that: “Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate, rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems and promote the recovery of threatened species, inter alia, through the development and implementation of plans or other management strategies.”

The Conference of the Parties, at its tenth meeting, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Through Aichi Biodiversity Target 15, Parties have agreed that “by 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.”

Aichi Biodiversity Target 14 aims that “by 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.”

In decision X/17, the Conference of the Parties adopted the consolidated update of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), wherein Target 4 calls for securing at least 15 per cent of each ecological region or vegetation type through effective management and/or restoration. Target 8 of this consolidated update calls for availability of at least 20 per cent of threatened plant species for recovery and restoration programmes.

In paragraph 6 of decision X/4 on the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, the Conference of the Parties noted the need to place greater emphasis on the restoration of degraded terrestrial, inland water and marine ecosystems with a view to re-establishing ecosystem functioning and the provision of valuable services taking into account existing guidance.

While adopting the Multi-Year Programme of Work for the period 2011-2020, in decision X/9 (a) item (ix), the Conference of the Parties decided to consider the identification of ways and means to support ecosystem restoration, including the possible development of practical guidance on ecosystem restoration and related issues at its eleventh meeting in 2012.

At its eleventh meeting, the Conference of the Parties addressed the subject of ecosystem restoration for the first time in a comprehensive manner, adopting decision XI/16. The Conference of Parties, in this decision, urges Parties and encourages other Governments and relevant organizations to make concerted efforts to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Targets 14 and 15 and Targets 4 and 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, and provides guidance for ecosystem restoration.

Paragraph 5 of decision XI/16 contains several requests to the Executive Secretary, including, inter alia, to convene regional and subregional capacity-building and training workshops; facilitate the further development of a range of implementation tools and practical guidance for ecosystem restoration; facilitate the development of a user-friendly, comprehensive web portal on ecosystem restoration; pursue opportunities for collaboration among the Convention on Biological Diversity and other multilateral environmental agreements in order to enhance and harmonize efforts in ecosystem restoration and avoid duplication; facilitate the development of a tool for collating and presenting baseline information on the condition and extent of ecosystems, in order to facilitate the evaluation of Aichi Biodiversity Target 15; identify gaps in practical guidance and implementation tools for ecosystem restoration and suggest ways to fill those gaps; and develop clear terms and definitions of ecosystem rehabilitation and restoration and clarify the desired outcomes of implementation of restoration activities.

On the margins of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the Hyderabad Call for a Concerted Effort on Ecosystem Restoration was endorsed by the Governments of India, the Republic of Korea and South Africa, the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). The Hyderabad Call acknowledges that ecosystems and their biodiversity underpin economic growth, sustainable development and human wellbeing; and that the loss of biodiversity results in serious and sometimes irreversible reductions in ecosystem goods and services that negatively impact economic prosperity and environmental sustainability. It further recognizes that the earth’s ecosystems are fast degrading as a result of damage due to unsustainable development and ecosystem management, and a failure to invest and reinvest in their productivity, health and sustainability. It also acknowledges a consensus that the restoration and rehabilitation of degraded areas is increasingly important as conservation alone is no longer sufficient and it outlines enabling factors to assist countries in achieving ecosystem restoration commitments, namely: political will, leadership and commitment; knowledge dissemination, and capacity building to transform knowledge and experience into practical applications on the ground; governance, participation and partnerships; and financing, resource mobilization and other incentive mechanisms. The organizations finally call upon all Governments, Parties to the Rio Conventions and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements, donor agencies, including the World Bank and regional development banks, private and corporate donors, and business consortia, as well as other relevant international bodies and organizations, indigenous and local community organizations and civil society, to make concerted and coordinated long-term efforts to mobilize resources and facilitate the implementation of ecosystem restoration activities on the ground for sustaining and improving the health and well-being of humans and all other species with whom we share the planet. See the IISD coverage of the Hyderabad Call.

At its twelfth meeting, the Conference of the Parties reaffirmed the need for enhanced support and cooperation to promote ecosystem restoration efforts of developing countries towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and therefore adopted decision XII/19, on which paragraph 5 it welcomed the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative (FERI) developed by the Republic of Korea in cooperation with the Executive Secretary, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other partners, to support ecosystem restoration activities under the Convention in line with decision XI/16 and other relevant decisions developed by the Forest Landscape Restoration Mechanism of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and other relevant initiatives, contributing to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. In particular, FERI aims to support Parties in achieving Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5, 14 and 15 in an integrated manner.

At its thirteenth meeting held in December 2016, in Cancun, Mexico, the Conference of the Parties adopted decision XIII/5 on the action plan for ecosystem restoration. In this decision, Parties noted that many degraded ecosystems are still in need of restoration and underlined that ecosystem restoration, when effectively implemented and coherent with other related policies, helps to achieve not only many of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, but also several Sustainable Development Goals.

Recalling Article 8 (f) and decisions XI/16 and XII/19, Parties adopted the short-term action plan on ecosystem restoration as a flexible framework for immediate action towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5, 12, 14 and 15, and Targets 4 and 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, and other internationally agreed goals and targets, and in particular targets identified in national biodiversity strategies and action plans or other relevant strategies and plans. Parties were urged and other Governments and relevant organizations, as well as indigenous peoples and local communities, and relevant stakeholders were encouraged to make use of the plan to promote, support and take actions on ecosystem restoration.

Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations and stakeholders, were encouraged to consider ecosystem restoration in reef, coastal and marine ecosystems as well as urban environments, in the action plans, where relevant, to ensure that marine environments are sustained. In addition, Parties were invited to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on their activities and results from the implementation of the action plan.

In this decision, Parties also requested the Executive Secretary to support their efforts in making use of the short-term action plan on ecosystem restoration by enabling capacity-building and supporting the use of tools in collaboration with relevant partners and by updating the information on guidance, tools and initiatives relating to ecosystem restoration and making it available through the clearing-house mechanism.

At its fourteenth meeting held in November 2018, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the Conference of the Parties, adopted decision 14/1 on updated assessment of progress towards selected Aichi Biodiversity Targets and options to accelerate progress. In paragraph 14, Parties were urged and other Governments, indigenous peoples and local communities, relevant organizations and other relevant stakeholders were invited to take urgent action by 2020 on those Aichi Biodiversity Targets, or elements thereof, for which progress needed to be accelerated. For Targets 14 and 15 related to ecosystem restoration, Parties were asked to step up the implementation of the short-term action plan on ecosystem restoration, drawing on the findings of the thematic Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration of IPBES and noting the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience, endorsed at the African Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity held on the margins of COP 14 in 2018.

Parties also adopted decision 14/30 on cooperation with other conventions, international organizations and initiatives. In paragraph 30 of this decision, Parties invited the United Nations General Assembly to designate the decade 2021 to 2030 the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.