Bridgetown, Barbados, 2 February 2020 – Latin America and the Caribbean today adopted a regional plan containing 10 actions to promote the recovery of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems in the next decade.
The Action Plan for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration was agreed today at the XXII Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean, as part of a decision to prevent future pandemics and accelerate sustainable recovery in the region through the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems.
This collaborative effort, aimed at reverting the negative impacts of degradation that are already underway, as well as those that are likely to emerge in the near future, is in line with the UN Decade on Ecosystem restoration (2021-2030), a global initiative to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
The Decade, which was introduced by the government of El Salvador, is led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).
The region is particularly rich in terms of biodiversity, with seven of the most diverse countries in the world. Yet, in spite of protecting 24.2 per cent of its land and 17.5 per cent of its marine areas, many ecosystems have been significantly degraded, threatening the people’s well-being, the countries’ potential for adaptation to climate change and, ultimately, a sustainable future.
“Healthy ecosystems underpin sustainable development. With the adoption of this Action Plan, Latin American and Caribbean countries will have better conditions and more effective cooperation mechanisms to recover their ecosystems, halt biodiversity loss, and to advance regionally towards the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature”, said Leo Heileman, UNEP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ecosystem restoration encompasses a wide continuum of activities that contribute to protecting intact ecosystems and repairing those that are already degraded.
Such activities include, for example, enhancing organic carbon in agricultural soils, increasing fish stocks in overfished zones, remediating polluted sites, restoring ecological processes, restoring biodiversity, and conserving fauna and flora that can assist in the restoration process.
“Globally, the economic benefits of restoration interventions are up to 10 times greater than the size of the investments required. On the other hand, inaction can be up to three times more costly,” said Leo Heileman.
The Action Plan launched focuses on cooperation mechanisms and outlines 10 actions following 3 pathways:
- Regional movement will be achieved by promoting public awareness, giving visibility to ecosystem restoration champions and bringing ecosystem restoration to schools;
- Political engagement will be pursued by supporting leadership in ecosystem restoration, developing an innovative financing strategy, and promoting high-level regional dialogues, and
- Technical capacity will be built by encouraging investment in long-term scientific research, ensuring access to knowledge, promoting collaboration, and training professionals in ecosystem restoration.
The overarching vision is that, by 2030, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will have significantly advanced in defining policies and plans and implementing projects to restore marine, terrestrial and inland water ecosystems at a spatial scale that is relevant to revert the negative impacts of degradation.