Inaugural African Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity Adopts Regional Agenda for Accelerated Ecosystem Restoration
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity convened on 13 November 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, under the theme, ‘Land and Ecosystem Degradation and Restoration: Priorities for Increased Investments in Biodiversity and Resilience in Africa’.

Welcoming the Summit outcome, CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Pasca Palmer noted it created an impetus for the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and would contribute to shaping a New Deal for Nature and People in 2020.

15 November 2018: African ministers meeting on the eve of the 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference adopted an action agenda aimed at ensuring a coherent approach to addressing the interlinked challenges of biodiversity loss, land degradation and climate change. The Ministerial Summit on Biodiversity brought together 30 African ministers responsible for the environment and related sectors.

The Summit convened on 13 November 2018, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, under the theme, ‘Land and Ecosystem Degradation and Restoration: Priorities for Increased Investments in Biodiversity and Resilience in Africa.’

Ministers outlined progress towards ecosystem restoration, and announced new commitments and targets aimed at accelerating and upscaling ecosystem restoration by 2030.

Announced pledges include plans to restore: 12 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands in Cameroon, representing over half of the country’s total forested area; 15 million hectares of forests in Ethiopia, with the involvement of local communities; four million hectares of degraded land and forest in Madagascar; 5.1 million hectares of degraded land in both Kenya and Burkina Faso; and five million hectares of natural ecosystems in Algeria.

Few places like Africa are better placed to take a leadership role in the area of nature-based solutions to biodiversity loss and unchecked climate change.

Other announcements highlight: annual targets to stabilize sand dunes and assist the natural regeneration of degraded land to achieve Niger’s target of restoring 3.2 million hectares by 2030; and plans to restore vast sections of important wetland areas in both Uganda and Seychelles.

Several countries, including Seychelles and Sudan, reported that they had adopted an ecosystem-based approach to dealing with all three Rio Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the UNFCCC. South Africa developed a National Action Programme to address desertification, land degradation and drought.

In an opening address, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa highlighted the importance of finalizing the Paris Agreement Work Program (PAWP) at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC to enable African countries to achieve their restoration goals.

Espinosa highlighted that few places suffer from the “devastating impacts” of climate change and biodiversity loss like Africa and that few places “are better placed to take a leadership role, particularly in the area of nature-based solutions to the crises brought about by biodiversity loss and unchecked climate change.”

At the close of the meeting, ministers adopted the African Ministerial Declaration on Biodiversity and the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience.

The Ministerial Declaration highlights African commitments to land and ecosystem restoration in various multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), and notes the progress made through various ongoing initiatives and programmes, such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) and the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel. In addition to underscoring regional positions on a number of issues on the CBD COP 14 agenda, ministers endorse a proposal to launch a global initiative to promote the use of nature-based ecosystem approaches to coherently address biodiversity loss, climate change, and land and ecosystem degradation, and the designation of the decade 2021-2030 as the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

Welcoming the Summit outcome, CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Pasca Palmer noted that it created an impetus for the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and would contribute to shaping a New Deal for Nature and People in 2020. [CBD Press Release] [African Ministerial Declaration on Biodiversity] [UNFCCC Press Release] [UN Environment Press Release]


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