Cities4Forests Day

In the context of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and in the lead-up to the UN International Day of Forests on 18 March, we hosted our first Cities4Forests Day to involve media in communicating the value of forests and to involve you in learning more about ecosystem restoration.

10:00 am CET


Why we need to restore forests, and how we import deforestation.

Over the course of an hour, representatives from of Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative, the OECD, and Fern NGO shared their insights with the audience.

Dr. Elvis Paul N. Tangem, Coordinator of Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) for the Africa Union.

The Great Green Wall was developed in the context of the mounting climate challenges facing the Sahel and drylands of Africa…but it is not only about challenges but about leveraging the huge natural resources that exist in Africa.

For Dr. Elvis Paul N Tangem, the Great Green Wall provides a range of opportunities including a large renewable energy potential, existing indigenous and traditional knowledge, rich soil and fertile lands, as well as a young population. The Great Green Wall, once completed, will extend across 21 countries, creating jobs and opportunities as well as supporting climate resilience and climate change mitigation efforts.

Read more about lessons from the world’s biggest transnational ecosystem restoration project here.

Tadashi Matsumoto, Head of Sustainable Urban Development Unit, OECD.

Although we face climate urgencies and there is a huge opportunity for green investment, the reality is that we are still facing traditional sector silos and coordination challenges.”

In his presentation, Matsumoto highlighted the opportunity to use the Covid recovery to Build Back Greener and proposed three policy options to support this:
1. improve the evidence base for green infrastructure benefits to support decision-making,
2. embed core environmental principle in national urban policies,
3. think at multiple scales to ensure coherent and inclusive policies.

Nicole Polsterer, Sustainable Consumption and Production Campaigner at Fern NGO.

80% of deforestation is caused by agriculture, of which half is attributed to commodity-driven large-scale intensive farming and is a more likely driver for permanent deforestation.

During her talk, Polsterer provided an overview of the major crops and commodities driving deforestation, with cattle raising as the leading cause by far, and how these crops turn up in the products consumed in markets such as the EU. With 10% of global deforestation attributed to EU consumption of commodities such as beer, palm oil, and soy, “Fern recommends that the EU ensures all products and the finance that underpins them is deforestation-free and free of human rights violations, as often associated with the conversion of forests is the disrespect of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Read more about imported deforestation and the fern report about EU consumption and illegal deforestation.

Watch the conference

2:00 pm CET


What is ecosystem restoration all about?

During this panel with experts from across the ecosystem restoration movement, we heard about what the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is, how we identify which ecosystems to restore, and how to go about that restoration work.

Tim Christophersen, Head, Nature for Climate Branch – Ecosystems Division, UNEP

Our health and wellbeing and the wealth of our nations depend on nature. Without an intact biosphere, we cannot hope to reach the other SDGs.”

With the upcoming official launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on 5 June, World Environment Day, the Decade is calling for the need to restore the relationship between humans and nature, with the goal of reducing degradation and loss and increasing ecosystem health. Christophersen highlighted the importance of engaging city dwellers, which now represent over half of humanity and the wide range of engagement opportunities for people around the world to do their part and join #GenerationRestoration.

Head over the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration website to find out more.

Marcos Valderrabano, Programme Manager, Red List of Ecosystems, IUCN

What is an ecosystem? It is relatively easy to understand species extinction…but ecosystems do not go extinct, they are transformed into something different,” and lose the capacity to support the species that are native to it, referred to as ecosystem collapse.

The IUCN Global Typology and Red List of Ecosystems are tools that will help us understand what a given ecosystem is, what its risk is for collapse, and thus help us undertake the necessary restoration measures to bring it back within safe boundaries. These tools are the culmination of years of work of hundreds of scientists around the world and provide a framework for comparison and knowledge sharing between distant ecosystems with similar traits, functions, and threats.

Ashleigh Brown, Co-founder and Camp Coordinator of Ecosystem Restoration Camps (ERC)

An ecosystem restoration camp is a place for everyday people to gather, learn, and implement ecosystem restoration and regenerative agriculture. They are living laboratories for experimenting, researching, learning, and sharing best practices, failures, and breakthroughs with the public, other camps, and decision-makers.

With 37 camps worldwide, 2,721 ha of land under restoration, and over 9500 campers, ERC provides opportunities to be part of a global network and access to peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange well as visibility for small-scale grassroots restoration projects.

Read more about ERC and its journey here, and check out this video about the first-ever urban ecosystem restoration camp in our member city, Los Angeles!

Watch the panel

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