Leaders pledge to restore additional 18 million hectares of critical landscapes as part of global target

06 December 2015 | International news release

Government and business representatives from Burundi, Honduras, India, Mexican States, KPK province of Pakistan and Asia Pulp and Paper have announced new pledges today to restore up to 18 million hectares of degraded forests, as part of the UN climate change conference (COP 21) taking place in Paris.

The contributions come under The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched by Germany and IUCN in 2011 to have 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land under restoration by 2020. This target was endorsed by the UN Climate Summit in 2014 and extended to 350 million hectares under restoration by 2030.

Today’s announcements join recent commitments made through other initiatives, bringing the total of Bonn Challenge pledges to just over 86 million hectares.

India has pledged to restore 13 million hectares, and is the first BRIC country to make a Bonn Challenge commitment. The commitment to restore one million hectares by Asia Pulp and Paper – one of the biggest producers of pulp, paper and packaging in the world – is the first private-sector pledge to the Bonn Challenge.

“Forest landscape restoration is a no-regrets option,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen.“In addition to its invaluable carbon sequestration potential, it offers a whole suite of benefits, including food security and soil conservation in Ethiopia, water for megacities in China, and rural development and jobs in Guatemala.

“It is encouraging to see more countries and businesses recognising the power and cost-effectiveness of nature-based solutions like forest landscape restoration. Delegates here in Paris must take these solutions into account when finalising the new climate agreement.”

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 carbon dioxide equivalent annually.

Prior to the UNFCCC COP 21, 13 countries and a regional alliance had pledged almost 60 million hectares to the Bonn Challenge.

“Paris COP 21 and Global Landscapes Forum 2015 are not just about political commitments. They are about actions and implementation,” says Franzjosef Schafhausen, Director General, Climate Policy, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Government of Germany. “Bringing back degraded and deforested lands can help stabilise the climate while sustainably supporting global and local economies.”

The new commitments were made during the Global Landscapes Forum at a session hosted by IUCN.

Highlights of today’s announcements:

Hon. Emmanuel Niyonkuru, Minister of Water, Environment, Land Management and Urbanism, Burundi, announced the country’s commitment of 2 million hectares
Hon. José Antonio Galdames, Secretary of State, Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mining, Honduras, announced the country’s 1 million hectare commitment
Dr. J.R. Bhatt, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, announced its 13 million hectare commitment. India is the first BRIC country committed to the Bonn Challenge
Ms. Aida Greenbury, Managing Director, Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement, Asia Pulp & Paper, announced the company’s 1 million hectare commitment, the first private sector pledge to the Bonn Challenge
The first subnational commitments to the Bonn Challenge came from Hon. Carlos Antonio Munoz Berzunza, Secretary of Ecology and Environment, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, with 300,000 hectares; Hon. Roberto Alcala Ferraez, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Campeche State, Mexico, with 400,000 hectares; Mr. Roberto Vallejo, Director of Planning and Sustainability Policies, Yucatan State, Mexico, with 250,000 hectares; Mr. Malik Amin Aslam Khan, representing the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Province, Pakistan, former Minister of State for Environment of Pakistan, IUCN Global Vice President, with 384,000 hectares
• Launch of the Bonn Challenge FLR Desk – bonnchallenge.org/FLRdesk – a new portal to profile existing domestic actions on restoration, showing that restoration leadership and achieving the Bonn Challenge global climate and biodiversity goals are within reach.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
Sandra Caya, e-mail: Sandra.Caya@iucn.org tel.: +41 79 832 7593
Ewa Magiera, e-mail: Ewa.Magiera@iucn.org tel.: +41 76 505 33 78