Caribbean becomes part of Bonn Challenge

Planting activities in the Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosaria in Cuba; Photo: Randdy Fundora/GIZ

Planting activities in the Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosaria in Cuba; Photo: Randdy Fundora/GIZ

The fifth Regional Bonn Challenge Conference in Latin America took place on 12 and 13 June 2019 in Havana, Cuba and thus for the first time in the Caribbean. Next to delegates from 19 Latin American and Carribean countries as well as several international organisations, also Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the German Ministry for the Environment, attended the conference.

The Bonn Challenge was launched in 2011 as a global initiative that aims to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020. Following that, the global community committed itself in the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014 to restore a total of 350 million hectares by 2030. With the in Havana newly announced commitments of the Carribean states Cuba and Belize, as well as of Uruguay, 61 national and subnational commitments to restore forest ecosystems and landscapes totalling more than 171 million hectares have already been made.

Latin America began hosting regional Bonn Challenge Conferences in El Salvador in 2015 and since then has held an annual conference in a Central American country. These are conducted by the countries with support of the IKI project ‘Restoration of Forest Landscapes in Central America and the Dominican Republic (REDD-Landscape/CCAD)’. This year's conference focused on the restoration of ecosystems as a strategy for adaptation to the consequences of climate change, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean. The interest of the Caribbean countries in restoring ecosystems and landscapes, particularly for adaptation purposes, is very high. Consequently, the two Carribean countries Cuba and Belize committed to restore 465.000 and 275.490 hectares respectively during the conference.

During the regional Bonn Challenge conference in Havanna, State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth highlights the Bonn Challenge’s importance for mitigation of green house gases and adaptation to the consequences of climate change; Photo Randdy Fundora/GIZ

At the end of the event, the participants signed the ‘Havana Declaration’ and committed themselves to promote the restoration of ecosystems and landscapes as one of the most important ‘natural solutions’ to the global climate crisis. Also, they will intensify efforts to lay by 2020 the foundations for the implementation of the UN Decade to Restore Ecosystems 2021-2030, a global initiative of El Salvador declared by the United Nations General Assembly on 1 March 2019. It brings together the objectives of the three UN Conventions on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This was also confirmed by BMU State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth in his speech at the conference: "The Bonn Challenge is of particular concern to us because it brings together climate, biodiversity and sustainable development goals in an exemplary way.

With the regional project “REDD/Landscape”, the International Climate Initiative (IKI) supports the Central Amerian region already since 2014. The project is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and in its second phase since 2018 co-financed by the European Union.