Ecosystems, Economy and Society Conference Considers Catalysts for Action on Large-Scale Restoration
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The conference 'Ecosystems, Economy and Society: How Large-Scale Restoration Can Stimulate Sustainable Development' reconvened for its second and final day.

Attendees heard about different approaches to restoration, projects from around the world, and reflections on the larger movement for ecosystem restoration.

ecosystems-economy-society30 May 2014: On the second day of the conference titled ‘Ecosystems, Economy and Society: How Large-Scale Restoration Can Stimulate Sustainable Development,’ participants heard about different approaches to restoration, projects from around the world, and reflections on the larger movement for ecosystem restoration. A common thread woven into all sessions was how to accelerate large-scale restoration. Speakers made the case for restoration based on job creation, food security, impending climate change and intergenerational equity.

The measurement and metrics session addressed measuring persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the Mekong River, the design of indicators for Everglades restoration, and the results of a Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) study on restoration projects in Colombia. The CIFOR study reveals, inter alia, that communities are largely absent from the list of project implementers, and the most important actors are not, as might be expected, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but the government.

The break-out session on landscape restoration as a nature-based solution opened with Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) Co-Chair Peter Bessau’s observation that the landscape approach underlies much of the international community’s work in this area. He noted that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is predicated on the ecosystem approach, and landscape approaches are also important in much of the World Bank’s work, REDD+, and the other Rio Conventions.

A series of afternoon plenary sessions gave participants a chance to reflect on the larger movement for scaling restoration. Participants heard from UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Executive Secretary Monique Barbut, who asked the audience to rally behind a land degradation neutrality goal. Given the many local restoration projects underway, Barbut defined large-scale restoration as the replication, through international cooperation, of a multitude of local successes. Touching on the issue of climate change, she expressed the hope that adaptation will have a central role in a 2015 climate change agreement and stressed that land will play a pivotal role in such an agreement.

Comprehensive land-use planning must be “wall-to-wall” and governed by a national framework that applies a “whole of government approach,” according to David Cooper, representing Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Dias. Cooper also underscored the importance of a comprehensive monitoring system and multiple sources of finance. In addition, Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), gave the audience an overview of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) findings and its implications for sustainable development.

Amartya Sen, Harvard University professor and Nobel Laureate, delivered the keynote speech. He suggested three areas in need of progress to advance environmental goals: politics, ethics and morality, and science. The first is not just a problem of political divisions, according to Sen, but a failure to translate scientific understanding into material for public understanding and use.

The conference took place from 29-30 May 2014, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC, US. It was the Seventh Future Environmental Trends Conference. The Veolia Institute, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), French Agency for Development (AFD) and US National Research Council Water Science and Technology Board organized the event. [Ecosystem, Economy and Society Conference Website] [IISD RS summary of first day][IISD RS Sources]


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