Landscape restoration: New directions in global governance

01-12-2015 | Publication

Worldwide, though in some regions more than others, the quality of land is degrading, reducing its ability to provide ecosystem services humanity depends on for its existence. In view of this trend, concepts of landscape restoration are currently attracting a surge of interest in global environmental governance.

Restoration on the international political agenda

Ambitious targets for restoration have been set, including the aim of bringing 150 million hectares of land into restoration by 2020. This study finds that a pragmatic approach to environmental governance can provide key elements to create political momentum and instigate implementation of this global target. The pragmatic approach builds on collaborative efforts, innovations and initiatives that are taken forward by different types of state and non-state actors largely outside the purview of traditional multilateral processes that, to date, have been unable to curb global land degradation trends.

The Global Partnership for Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR) and the Bonn Challenge are taken as examples of such an approach. The GPFLR is an informally structured assembly and platform that connects the efforts of its individual members around a common vision and objective to see forest and landscape restoration recognised and implemented worldwide. The GPFLR is considered to be successful in pushing restoration on the international political agenda by launching the Bonn Challenge in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment. The Bonn Challenge aspires to bring 150 million hectares of land into restoration by 2020.

Achieving this goal can have a range of cross-cutting benefits in areas such as food security, poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation, reforestation and carbon sequestration. Countries, landowners and other types of actors are invited to commit a number of hectares for restoration to the Bonn Challenge. To date about 86 million hectares have been committed, almost equalling the size of Nigeria.

New forms of international collaboration

Based on this case study an analysis is provided of how groups of state and non-state actors can effectively collaborate on policy dialogue and advocacy for landscape restoration in global governance; how they can catalyse political will to engage in landscape restoration practices at lower levels of governance; which policy instruments may be effective to incentivize implementation; and how implementation can be supported by the international development system.