Biodiversity underpins humanity by a myriad of ways, including provision of food, freshwater, clean air and disease control. However continued population growth, uncontrolled over consumption of natural resources, increasing pollution and climate change are likely to put additional pressure on ecosystems.
At the same time, there is a growing consensus that restoring ecosystem functionalities contributes not only to preserve biodiversity but also to secure livelihoods, to combating desertification and to both climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Furthermore, ecological restoration could open new economic avenues.
Several initiatives have successfully achieved promising improvements: Watershed Protection for Drinking Water (city supplies), Reforestation and Poverty Alleviation, Wetlands Engineering, Large-Scale Soil Decontamination, Sea Canals, Artificial Reef Programs, Invasive Species Extirpation, Forest and Carbon Sinks Restoration, emergence of the Landscape restoration approach. They all combine unprecedented levels of scientific and technical expertise, collaboration among a plurality of actors - public, private and civil society – new forms of collaborative governance and diversified funds and resources.
There is a need for enriched scientific data, at the first stage, but also context-based practices that facilitate the understanding of highly complex challenges and the emergence of solutions. With a multidisciplinary and holistic approach, the Conference has collected and promoted innovative ideas and tools on how to implement effectively restoration projects at a large-scale.
To do so, it has been structured around:
- A Technical Segment analysing existing restoration projects and practices, to foster a productive dialogue and draw lessons on the conditions of operability, appropriateness and transferability in different contexts.
- A decisions-makers segment aimed at strengthening political will and institutional schemes to translate those ideas and commitments into actions of implementation on the ground.
Acknowledging all that, the two-day Conference has provided a platform for scientists, practitioners, NGOs, business leaders and policymakers from both the South and the North to discuss remarkable case studies, best practices and share better insights on the potential of large-scale ecosystem restoration towards sustainable development. In doing so, the Conference contributes to achieving CBD Aichi Target 15 (restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems), the EU Strategy Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and the UNFCCC REDD+ goal to slow, halt and reverse the loss of forest and carbon, as well as other international objectives, including those on land degradation and food security. It also offers a timely contribution in the context of the post-MDGs 2015 period and the preparation of action-oriented SDGs.