Global Landscapes Forum and the "power of soil"

December 19, 2017

Forest restoration in Thailand
Since 2014, a total of $824 million in GEF funding for forests has been spent, catalyzing about $4.7 billion in additional leveraged cofinancing. Forest restoration, pictured, is part of the discussions at this year's Global Landscapes Forum.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is taking place in Bonn, Germany from 19-20 December, 2017. The Forum, a multi-stakeholder platform on sustainable land use, gathers a wide range of like-minded partners working on the landscape and forest restoration agenda including, among others, the World Bank, UN Environment, CIFOR, World Resources Institute (WRI), the Global Environment Facility, and supported by the German Government.

Speaking at the opening plenary, GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, reaffirmed the GEF’s continued support for the forests, land and restoration agenda:

"We need to find a way to feed nine billion people without degrading the natural environment anymore. The world belatedly has discovered the power of soil, the power of forests, and the power of nature. I see clearly that the restoration and landscape approach has been gaining momentum", said Naoko Ishii. "The GEF can play a catalytic role for much needed transformational change in food and land use systems. If we break out of man-made institutional silos and create multi-stakeholder platforms at large scale landscapes, we have a higher chance to succeed."

The GLF says it is “a movement that puts communities first in addressing landscape-level issues. With science and traditional knowledge at the core, GLF outreach, events and projects are designed not only to spark dialogue, but also follow-through to impact in addressing some of the most complex and multi-stakeholder problems facing our earth and our communities.”

Sustainable landscapes are essential for the future we want: for food, livelihoods, health, renewable materials, energy, biodiversity, business development, trade, climate regulation and water. Lands could be alone one third of the climate solution. Recognizing this complexity – the diversity of landscape realities – and the need for holistic approaches, the GLF is founded on four principles, aiming to engage 1 billion people: connecting, sharing, learning and acting.

In recent years, the growing recognition of the scale and complexity of environmental degradation has led to a wide variety of global initiatives and targets, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As of today, more than 40 nations have committed to restore more than 160 million hectares of degraded land under the Bonn Challenge.

During the GLF, the WRI launched a new report, “Roots of Prosperity. The Economy and Finance of Restoring Land”, that highlights seven ways the world can improve funding for forest and landscape restoration. It examines the key barriers to investment in the sector and highlights policy solutions and financial mechanisms that can be used to overcome roadblocks.

The report confirms that despite the keen global interest in restoration, funding for this critical strategy still falls short. The report presents some solutions, but the launch event served for a rich discussion where the speakers presented possible ways of addressing the challenges or “barriers” facing financing for landscape restoration.

Since 2014, a total of $824 million in GEF funding for forests has been spent and about one third is benefitting restoration projects and programs, catalyzing about $4.7 billion in additional leveraged cofinancing.

In June 2016, the GEF Council approved the Restoration Initiative, implemented by IUCN, FAO and UN Environment. This is a $54 million global program in 10 countries that focuses on global learning, finance, and partnerships for restoration. Participating countries include Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sao Tome and Principe, Tanzania, and the DR Congo.

Donors are currently considering the next GEF replenishment cycle (GEF-7, from 2018 to 2022), which includes a proposal to increase funding for programs that will support the restoration and sustainable management of landscapes at scale over the next four years. These programs will make a meaningful contribution to support GEF-eligible countries to implement their pledges towards the Bonn Challenge.

Ahead of the GLF, the Global Restoration Council, of which Ishii is a member, met for two days. The council works together with WRI and the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) to support the achievement of international targets for the restoration of degraded forests and landscapes.

The GEF also participated in the Inclusive Landscapes Finance Pavilion, an interactive space supported by partners like UN Environment, IUCN and WWF for engaging in discussions on all aspects of landscapes finance.

On the sidelines of the conference, the GEF CEO met with the President of Mauritius, her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who highlighted the crucial role the GEF is playing in Mauritius by supporting the government in their efforts to apply integrated solutions to land use and biodiversity protection.