The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

Angela Viano, Committee Member, Westminster UNA

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 1st March 2019 as a continuation of past actions to preserve natural habitats and more broadly the ecosystem.

Biodiversity has been front and centre of the United Nations effort to act on climate change and reduce its degradation and loss for years. From the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity through to the Declaration of the UN Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020) with the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted at the 10th COP to the CBD in Nagoya (Japan), the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity has never been more important. However, the Declaration of the new Decade which has just started, is deemed as crucial to finally achieve the Aichi Targets and drastically scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems.

On 30 September 2020 world leaders virtually gathered at the first ever global Summit on Biodiversity, building momentum for the 15th COP to the UN Convention on Biodiversity which was postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19.

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will officially launch on World Environment Day (5 June 2021)

From Grasslands, Oceans to urban areas, its major aim is to prevent, halt and restore the degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems and achieve sustainable development.

The new Decade was proclaimed following a proposal by over 70 Countries for a more focused, action-and solution-oriented decade which also coincides with the end of the pursuit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (also known as SDGs) in 2030, the deadline identified by scientists and climate experts to prevent an environmental catastrophe.

As a matter of fact, Biodiversity is directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals and it underpins many of them: SDGs 14 and 15, together with SDGs 2 and 6 are the goals which contain biodiversity-explicit targets. Biodiversity degradation is clearly jeopardizing not only the achievement of the goals but also human life and wellbeing. The post-2020 global Biodiversity Framework which will be adopted at the next Summit on Biodiversity in 2021 is itself a stepping stone to the 2050 Vision of “Living in Harmony with Nature” (A/RES/75/220).

With the UN Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization at the helm, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration aims at becoming as inclusive as possible, reaching out to Governments, NGOs, Organizations, members of the Civil Society and world citizens to each participate and contribute to its full success.

Through a dedicated platform and several events the UN Decade makes it possible for everyone to become involved in restoring nature, its ecosystems and reach the UN goal of “Making Peace with Nature”, as comprehensively illustrated in the recently launched UNEP Report.

Angela Viano is a member of the Westminster UNA Executive Committee.