Story | 03 Sep, 2016

Bonn Challenge approaches target to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land

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. 

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Bonn Challenge approaches target to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land

Photo: © Sergio Garrido

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,” says 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,” says 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,” says 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.

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.

For more information or to set up interviews, contact:

Sandra Caya 
Manager, Knowledge & Communications, Global Forest and Climate Change Programme, IUCN 
Tel: +41 79 832 7593 

IUCN Congress Media Team:

Supporting quotes:

“We have passed the ‘magic’ 100 million hectare line. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and within only five years,” says 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,” says Mirei Endara, Panama’s Environment Minister.

Editor’s notes

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.

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.  IUCN’s work focusses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation, with almost 1,300 government and NGO Members and more than 15,000 volunteer experts in 185 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by almost 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.