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December 8th, 2015
New Publication Details Financing for Forest and Landscape Restoration

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More than USD 300 billion are needed per year to restore the world’s degraded land in order to achieve a new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target by 2030, according to a new publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Global Mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (GM).

The joint discussion paper, Sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration: opportunities, challenges, and the way forward, was launched this weekend at the Global Landscapes Forum in Paris during a session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’.

Currently, the world’s degraded land amounts to 2 billion hectares, which is equal to an area the size of South America. Each year an additional 12 million hectares of land are degraded, while 7.6 million hectares of forest are converted to other uses or lost through natural causes.

“The degradation of the world’s land and forests is a serious threat to the livelihoods and food security of millions of people who depend on them, and there is an urgent need to invest in forest and landscape restoration to bring a significant portion of that degraded land back to a productive state,” said Douglas McGuire, Coordinator of the Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism hosted by the Forestry Department of FAO.

Funding falls short of global commitments

Countries have already made ambitious commitments to forest and landscape restoration, including under Goal 15 of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which sets a target (15.3) to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030.

In addition, some countries had previously pledged to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 in the framework of the 2011 Bonn Challenge, and 350 million hectares by 2030 under the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests.

However, mobilization of funds is one of the chief constraints to achieving these global targets. The USD 300 billion a year needed for SDG target 15.3 aside, the Bonn Challenge is estimated to require USD 36 billion a year, and the New York Declaration USD 49 billion a year.

“One of the main barriers is insufficient awareness of financing opportunities and investors’ lack of understanding of forest and landscape restoration,” said Markus Repnik, Managing Director of the GM.

Key questions addressed at the Global Landscape Forum session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’ The GLF is one of the largest events held on the sidelines of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The session on ‘’Investing in integrated landscapes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’’, at which the publication was launched, addressed a number of key questions on forest and landscape restoration financing, including:

  • How are investments coordinated within integrated landscape initiatives?
  • How can investors better engage with landscape stakeholders?
  • How can these models be scaled-up and applied in the implementation of SDGs?

The joint FAO-GM discussion paper addresses these issues by providing an overview of existing funding sources and financial instruments that could be adapted specifically for forest and landscape restoration purposes both at the local, national, regional and global levels.

The Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative launched a complementary publication at the same discussion forum entitled “Scaling up investment & finance for integrated landscape management: Challenges and innovations”. Innovative financing solutions proposed in the publication launched in Paris

The FAO-GM discussion paper sets out key messages on financing for forest and landscape restoration for governments, development banks, international agencies, environmental funds, NGOs and private companies. It also proposes innovative and non-traditional ideas such as crowdfunding and green bank cards.

“With both governments and development agencies facing increasing funding shortages, long-term financing solutions may rely on private-sector investors – businesses and individuals – whether in the framework of corporate social responsibility or as investors looking for a mix of social and financial returns,” said Ludwig Liagre of the GM.

The joint publication also identifies ways to create an enabling environment for sound investments in forest and landscape restoration and proposes recommendations for building and strengthening financial alliances.

A joint FAO-GM public policy brief and infographic with key messages on sustainable financing for forest and landscape restoration included in this publication were launched in October 2015 at the Forests and Landscape Forum – organized by the GM, FAO, and LPFN, among other partners- during the 12th Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in Ankara, Turkey. 

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