ACCELERATING and ALIGNING ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION AND CLIMATE RESTORATION GLOBALLY - to pull humanity back from the brink in time
DRAFT acceleration concept note collaboratively developed by Phoebe Barnard* and Dennis Garrity** with inputs from John Dennis Liu***, Noa Steiner**** and numerous others from partner organizations
It's become painfully clear: events are overtaking us. For the survival of humanity, biodiversity, and ecosystem integrity, we must push bold, ambitious, aspirational goals and programs that break outside our business-as-usual, insufficiently impactful conservation, restoration, and climate boxes.
Closely aligning the global movements and structures on ecosystem restoration, climate restoration, biodiversity protection and youth leadership will, we believe, significantly enable the acceleration and upscaling of actions, leadership, and impact in this UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Ecosystem-based climate restoration, a newer field, has the potential to markedly channel funding, policy momentum, and public (especially youth) excitement and support to existing ecosystem restoration activities. It also can benefit by deep learning from the latter. We therefore propose dramatic global action and an ambitious acceleration of ecosystem and climate restoration during the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, through broadening of its strategy with these core elements:
Coalition WILD, Global Youth Biodiversity Network, Youth4Climate, SHE Changes Climate, the Global Green Recovery Collaborative and others are in discussion about how they might help shape and grow these exchanges as part of a powerful, linked global capacity initiative. There is much overlap in the interests and goals of youth participants, but few have access to practical, direct, field- and classroom-based training in regeneration skills.
Youth leaders and activists will be gainfully energized and empowered with clear information on options for participation, and skills-building in restoring ecosystems and carbon removal.
Partnerships between global alliances help all members have impact, and significantly strengthen many funding proposals.
Specific proposed actions are still in development. But they will fall within these four elements.
Capacity building for youth leaders in practical, field-based restoration skills will not simply be program-based, but a basis for building the newer, more regenerative, wiser civilization and economy.
Youth and leadership capacity building falls outside the Global Biodiversity Framework, but is almost universally acknowledged in UN and other initiatives as a cross-cutting priority for the future.
We are talking with numerous potential collaborating organizations and people:
Ecosystem restoration, global permaculture and agroforestry networks and specialists, especially Ecosystem Restoration Camps, The Ecosystem Guild (John Dennis Liu, Paul Cereghino), Global EverGreening Alliance and those working on meeting restoration targets and repairing the Earth.
Youth and Women’s Leadership Alliances –
CBD Alliance (Pratishtha Singh, Bharath Reddy)
Youth4Nature (Raysa Franca and colleagues)
Coalition WILD (Yen Parico, also Crista Valentino and Amy Lewis of WILD Foundation)
YOUNGO (the official youth constituency of UNFCCC)
NbS Youth Position (a collaboration of Youth4Nature, YOUNGo and GYBN writing the Global Youth Position Statement on Nature-based Solutions)
Global Green Recovery Collaborative (Cambridge Conservation Leadership MPhil alum initiative) – (Rosalind Helfand, also UN Women and GBYN California)
Cambridge University MPhil in Conservation Leadership Programme (Chris Sandbrook)
SHE Changes Climate (Elise Buckle, cofounder)
Big, bold and large-scale ambition, with targets, are needed to restore our planet and climate, and this involves carefully planned rewilding, including planning with the behavioral sciences to avoid human/ wildlife conflict with backlash on wolves, cormorants and seals, and other species viewed by some human communities as competition or dangerous.
Osvaldo Sala, Founding Director, Global Drylands Center, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. Osvaldo.Sala@asu.edu.
Chris Sandbrook, Director, Cambridge University Masters of Philosophy in Conservation Leadership. firstname.lastname@example.org (while traveling).
Concept note authors:
*Prof Phoebe Barnard, biodiversity scientist, policy strategist and societal futurist, has been a Fulbright Scholar and recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Society for Conservation Biology. She coauthored World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency and led the World Scientists’ Warnings into Action: Local to Global action framework published during COP26. A longtime CBD lead negotiator for Namibia and founder of its national biodiversity and climate programs, she is now CEO of the Stable Planet Alliance (a global coalition of organizations working to reduce human overshoot), affiliate full professor at University of Washington, mentor to young conservation leaders in Africa and globally, and coproducer of the upcoming global documentary “Back to our Future: a Film About Climate Restoration and Survival.”
**Dr Dennis Garrity, former Director-General of World Agroforestry (ICRAF, 2001-2011), is Chair of the Board of the Global EverGreening Alliance, a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute, and a Distinguished Senior Research Fellow at ICRAF. He is a systems agronomist and research leader whose career has been focused on the development of small-scale farming systems in the tropics. He has been serving as Drylands Ambassador for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, emphasizing the role of agroforestry, evergreen agriculture and landcare as critical to sustainable land management. Like Phoebe and John, Dennis is a determined and energetic advocate for a regenerative society, economy and civilization.
***John Dennis Liu, internationally known ecosystem restoration and soil scientist and filmmaker based in Beijing and Kentucky, founded the global Ecosystem Restoration Camps movement and chairs its advisory board. After 15 years as a TV producer and cameraman for CBS News, RAI and ZDF, John studied soil science and ecology. Since the mid-1990s he has driven participatory media collaborations in China and other countries that led to the Environmental Education Media Project, EEMP, which he still directs. EEMP has distributed >1000 environmental films in China since then, and helped found the China Environment and Sustainable Development Reference and Research Center. John has been a visiting fellow at University of the West of England, a Senior Research Fellow for IUCN, and in 2023 will become associated with Arizona State University’s Global Drylands Center, with Prof Osvaldo Sala. In 2013 John received the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Communications Award and a film, Green Gold about his work by the VPRO won a Prix Italia Award. His classic film Hope in a Changing Climate was named the best ecosystem film by the International Wildlife Festival. John is also ambassador for the Commonland Foundation and actively engaged in building youth leaders.
****Noa Steiner supported the development of this concept with strategic policy advice. She is a global biodiversity policy strategist and networker, former Global Policy Officer at BirdLife International, Cambridge University guest lecturer in its conservation leadership masters course, and Conventions and Policy Support Officer at UNEP-WCMC. She is based in Kiel, Germany and follows CBD negotiations and policy priorities closely.
Identification and mapping:
map relevant alliances, organizations and people both in IGO, NGO and academic communities keen to collaborate for greater impact; identify their priorities and values.
Practical and logistic collaboration:
identify existing areas, infrastructure, experts, equipment in which the strategic planning work of collaborating partners
can be closely and cost-effectively aligned for everyone’s practical benefit.
Youth leadership and organizational capacity and exchange:
link and upskill leadership in the field through exchange – primarily between ecosystem restoration and climate restoration global networks, and later also with select field-based biodiversity conservation and regenerative land/ocean networks. Practical, hands-on restoration skills and practice.
Funding and facilitation:
global agencies, other funders dramatically increase funding to link and energize these two fields – one incipient, one older – as a global change grand challenge within and beyond the strategic plan of the UN Decade.
Proposed collaborating partners:
1 billion people globally engaged in restoration
200 m hectares of land globally under restoration
120 of 230 watersheds globally under restoration
quadruple coastal / ocean habitat restoration goals under SDG14.