Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, 3 September 2016 (IUCN) – The Government of Malawi and the Association of Guatemalan Private Natural Reserves have committed to restoring a total of 4.54 million hectares of degraded land as part of the Bonn Challenge initiative, as announced today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress currently taking place in Hawai’i.
Today’s announcements bring the total of Bonn Challenge pledges to just over 113 million hectares committed by 36 governments, organisations and companies – exceeding the 100 million hectare milestone just five years after its launch and bringing the 150 million target within reach.
“This exciting news is evidence that forest landscape restoration is increasingly looked to as an avenue to achieving the ambitions of the 2015 agreements,” said Inger Andersen, Director General, IUCN. “We’ve watched the Bonn Challenge initiative transform from a global ambition to a powerful movement driven by governments, business leaders and local communities.
“Over the next four years, we will be working with our partners to embed forest landscape restoration into national priorities, achieve restoration at scale and deliver real results to the communities and individuals living in these landscapes.”
The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. The initiative was launched in 2011 by Germany and IUCN, and was later endorsed and extended by the UN Climate Summit in 2014.
Achieving the 350 million hectare goal could generate US$ 170 billion per year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields and forest products, and could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.
“The IUCN Congress has driven home the urgency of acting on environmental issues and the potential of using nature as a tool to achieve sustainable development,” said Dr. Clement Chilima, Director of Forestry, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi. “Restoring 4.5 million hectares of degraded land will set Malawi on the path to a climate-smart future.”
“The RPNG was instrumental in getting over 170 reserves declared in Guatemala – that is the power of working together,” said Martin Keller, President of the Association of Guatemalan Private Natural Reserves (RPNG), the first private reserve group to make a pledge to the Bonn Challenge. “We’re delighted to join the Bonn Challenge and to share our lessons in natural resource management and learn from other participating countries and organisations.”
The commitments made by Malawi and RPNG follow other recent pledges announced by Panama (1 million hectares), Côte d’Ivoire (5 million hectares), the Central African Republic (3.5 million hectares), Guinea (2 million hectares), and an additional 1 million hectares from Ghana at regional ministerial roundtables held in Kigali and Panama in July and August 2016.
IUCN's Bonn Challenge Ambassador Bianca Jagger pointed out the Bonn Challenge’s importance to tackling climate change and commended governments, companies and landowners on the 113 million hectares of commitments reached.
“If you don’t think this is important, think twice. This is one of the most important initiatives happening in the world today,” she said.
These roundtables are part of a series of high-level meetings to accelerate action on forest landscape restoration (FLR) in support of the Bonn Challenge. The Kigali roundtable provided a platform for the launch of the Kigali Declaration which – with an increasing list of signatories – is becoming a testament to the Pan-African ministerial support for the Bonn Challenge.
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“We have passed the ‘magic’ 100 million hectare line. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and within only five years,” said Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Germany. “We must celebrate those who have shown leadership on restoration and continue to attract more and diverse partners as well as developing scalable restoration investment opportunities.”
“The multiple benefits of restoration – climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and the sustainable management of water resources – are evident and inspired Panama to be a part of the global push for forest landscape restoration,” said Mirei Endara, Panama’s Environment Minister.
Responding to growing political will and regional cooperation on Forest Landscape Restoration, IUCN and its partners are focusing on scaling up implementation action and strengthening monitoring processes. Supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF); IUCN will be working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in 10 countries to accelerate community-driven restoration projects and support South-South cooperation. Earlier today, IUCN announced the launch of the Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress supported by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the BMUB. The Barometer will be piloted in six countries with a focus on developing and applying a progress tracking protocol for FLR interventions.
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