UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

The UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration was launched in 2021. Its goals: to stop the destruction and degradation of ecosystems worldwide, to prevent it in the future and to restore ecosystems that have already been damaged.

As of: May 2023



Forest from above. There are dead trees in the middle.

Ecosystems form the basis for all life on Earth: they generate oxygen, filter water, sequester carbon and produce food. The healthier our ecosystems, the healthier our planet and the lifeforms that populate it. And these lifeforms include humans as one of millions of species on this planet.

Climate change and the loss of biodiversity have left our ecosystems endangered as never before. To identify answers to these existential crises of our time and to ensure sustainable development for both the planet and its inhabitants, we are absolutely dependent on intact ecosystems and their services. Forests kept in a near-natural state, varied agricultural landscapes and mangrove belts, for example, absorb our carbon emissions and protect us from drought and floods while providing us with food and sources of income.

To ensure that we can benefit from these kinds of ecosystem services in the future, we must preserve and restore our ecosystems.

This conviction and the necessity of taking action were the reasons for launching the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to stop the destruction and degradation of ecosystems worldwide, to prevent this happening in the future and to restore ecosystems already damaged.

To date, 70 nations (including Germany) and many international organisations have declared their commitment to the goals of this UN Decade. Companies, investors, researchers and individuals are also being asked to join the global #GenerationRestoration movement and declare their engagement for the protection and restoration of ecosystems.

Restoration Barometer Report 2022

Investment Booklet 2023

Origins and background of the UN Decade 2030

In 2011, Germany joined forces with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to initiate the ‘Bonn Challenge’. The idea was to restore damaged forests all over the world, with the specific target being the restoration of 350 million ha of forest landscapes by 2030. Local support for planning and implementation is provided by regional alliances for the Bonn Challenge, like the African Forest Landscape Initiative (AFR100) and the Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The IKI supports the implementation of the Bonn Challenge with a project Forest Landscape Restoration in Central America and the Caribbean, for example, and by developing a Bonn Challenge Barometer that measures the progress made in implementing measures.

The specific activities in relation to the Bonn Challenge made it clear that ecosystem restoration is a significant contributor to effective climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation: it is a nature-based solution (NbS) that attracts global recognition and emulation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature defines NbS as “actions to protect, sustainably use, manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, which address societal challenges, effectively and adaptively, providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.”

The UN Decade launched in 2021 now calls on the global community to implement their commitments by 2030 and offers its support towards achieving these targets. Overall, the aim is to start restoration processes across 1 billion ha of the Earth’s surface. Alongside forest ecosystems, the focus will also be on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, including grassland and savannah ecosystems, bodies of fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, peatlands, alpine and agricultural landscapes, and urban regions.

How the UN Decade works

Funding for the UN Decade structures and the promotion of the World Restoration Flagships is largely being provided by the IKI via the multi-partner trust fund Leading the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030: A Multi-Partner Trust Fund to Mobilise Global Action. The IKI is providing €21 million to support the worldwide #GenerationRestoration movement.

The IKI in the UN Decade: long-standing experience and new ideas

The IKI has been supporting the restoration of ecosystems since its formation 15 years ago. Alongside support for the global Bonn Challenge, the organisation has also financed projects supporting individual countries in achieving their restoration targets.

In the highly biodiverse tropical regions of Guatemala, the project Development of business models for cooperation with the private sector as a instrument for socially acceptable restoration of near-natural forests has been working to support agroforestry systems that help the local populations to regenerate forest areas and ensure the sustainable cultivation of cocoa.

In India, the project Restore, Conserve and Protect Forest and Tree Cover for NDC Implementation in India is helping to ensure the restoration of 150,000 ha of forest-rich landscapes in four states. The project is being implemented by the competent authorities and local populations, and is making an important contribution to India’s climate targets (nationally determined contributions, NDCs).

The IKI welcomes the opportunity to make its long-standing experience in various projects available to the UN Decade, so as to contribute to the establishment of the global #GenerationRestoration movement.

To promote knowledge transfer and networking between the many UN Decade participants, the IKI launched the project Support for the design and implementation of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in 2021: this organises international events and has also set up the Restoration Academy, a workshop series providing support to local actors (in Africa and Latin America) for the implementation of restoration measures.

The IKI is also funding large-scale consortium projects to further promote cooperation and mutual learning between various organisations within the UN Decade. Several international project implementing organisations are working together here. One of these consortium projects is focusing on Large-scale Forest Landscape Restoration in Africa.

New financing mechanisms and innovative business models are also required in order to achieve the ambitious targets for the restoration of ecosystems by 2030. The project Seed Capital Assistance Facility: Unlocking private finance for forest and landscape restoration (SCAF-FLR) is tackling this challenge, and working together with banks and other investors to develop appropriate investment funds.

IKI support to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

Data source: IKI

Overall, the IKI is funding 79 projects that support the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoratio.

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