Global Landscapes Forum Transforms into Year-Round Platform
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) was transformed from annual event to a year-round platform on the landscape approach, with its Secretariat to be located in Bonn, Germany.

The 2017 event featured discussions on items around five themes: landscape restoration; financing sustainable landscapes; rights and equitable development; food and livelihoods; and measuring progress towards climate change and development goals.

A series of publications and reports were launched during the meeting, including the IUCN Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress Spotlight Report 2017 and WRI's report on 'Roots of Prosperity: The Economics and Finance of Restoring Land'.

20 December 2017: Meeting from 19-20 December 2017, participants at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) witnessed the transformation of the annual event to a year-round platform on the landscape approach, with its Secretariat to be located in Bonn, Germany. The event featured discussions on items around five themes: landscape restoration; financing sustainable landscapes; rights and equitable development; food and livelihoods; and measuring progress towards climate change and development goals.

The landscape approach is an integrated approach to managing land, which has the potential to support progress towards various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from food, energy and water, to livelihoods, climate regulation and biodiversity. The event brought together 1,000 participants from 103 countries, representing governments, researchers, non-profit organizations, the private sector and civil society. Participants ranged from the President of Mauritius Ammenah Gurib Fakim, to former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, spiritual guide Sadhguru, celebrities, private sector representatives, students and youth. The event was livestreamed to reach an audience of several thousand. Discussions took place in plenaries, TED Talk-style ‘landscape talks,’ and in capacity-building launchpad sessions.

“The Global Landscapes Forum creates space for innovative ideas that can then be implemented on the ground,” said Barbara Hendricks, the Federal Minister of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). “The overarching goal is to learn from one another and take action together.”

Indigenous peoples’ leaders were included in the discussions, with the acknowledgement that indigenous communities play a key role in finding holistic solutions to land degradation, reforestation, food security and the future of clean water sources. “I think that’s one of the biggest contributions that indigenous organizers and young professionals are making, in every field addressing climate change and unsustainable development—that they look at everything as its complete picture,” said Janene Yazzie, co-founder and chief executive of Sixth World Solutions and member of the U.S.’s Navajo Tribal Nation. The forum highlighted the importance of investing in indigenous communities, both financially and culturally.

In a keynote speech, President of Mauritius Ammenah Gurib Fakim reiterated the crucial role of indigenous communities in tackling landscape issues. However, she contextualized this specifically in terms of Africa where threats to biodiversity are graver than on any other continent. She also called for increased investment in research.

A series of publications and reports were launched during the meeting. Among them, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) launched ‘Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress Spotlight Report 2017,’ which presents the emerging framework of the Bonn Challenge Barometer and highlights progress towards implementing Bonn Challenge commitments in Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico, Rwanda, and the US. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. To date, 47 governments, private associations and other organizations have committed over 160 million hectares. When fully developed and applied in 2018, the Barometer will equip jurisdictions and international partners who could provide technical and financial support with information to accelerate restoration action and address implementation bottlenecks. It will assess progress along three areas: legal and institutional arrangements; technical information and analysis; and results and benefits.

The Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, managed by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with the financial support of the Korea Forest Service, launched its first policy brief titled, ‘Partnering with Nature: the case for natural regeneration in forest and landscape restoration.’ The brief makes specific recommendations for policy changes that could enhance the role of natural regeneration in ecological restoration interventions and as an integral component of forest and landscape restoration. Often overlooked for social, cultural and economic reasons, natural regeneration is a cost-effective, nature-based tool for restoration that enhances resilience, supports local biodiversity, and supplies multiple ecosystem goods and services.

Also in conjunction with the Forum, the World Resources Initiative (WRI) launched a report titled, ‘Roots of Prosperity: The Economics and Finance of Restoring Land.’ The report provides pathways to unlock capital for forest and landscape restoration, as well as a comprehensive analysis of the benefits and costs of restoring land in countries around the world. It highlights that forest and land degradation costs the world more than US$6.3 trillion a year (approximately) and jeopardizes the livelihoods of half a billion people that depend on forests and land resources. Restoring degraded forests generates an estimated $7-30 in economic benefits for every dollar invested.

Despite this favorable benefit-cost ratio, funding for landscape restoration falls short by about $300 billion a year, according to the report. Investment is inadequate for several key reasons: many of the benefits are public goods, which are difficult to monetize; the long-term nature of investments does not match investors’ desire for liquidity; and projects are perceived to be risky. However, the report finds, with the right policies and financial mechanisms, these barriers are surmountable. Governments can shift incentives from land degradation toward restoration, implement carbon taxes and direct revenues to restoration, and support risk mitigation mechanisms that attract private investment.

Led by the Center of International Forestry Research (CIFOR) alongside founding partners UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank, with core funding provided by the German Government, including a recent contribution of 11 million euros (US$13 million), the GLF aims to accelerate action towards the creation of more resilient, equitable, profitable, productive and healthy landscapes and the achievement of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement and SDGs. It specifically aims to build capacities and evidence on the landscape approach to inform policies and practices; spark cross-sectoral dialogue from the local to the international scale; and, ultimately, create a global movement around landscapes, for people and the planet.

GLF Bonn 2017 was the seventh session of the forum, which first launched in 2013, in Warsaw, Poland. [GLF Press Releases] [Bonn Challenge Barometer] [Forest Ecosystem Restoration Initiative] [Publication: Roots of Prosperity: The Economics and Finance of Restoring Land]


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