Workshop on G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats

On May 25th the Italian G20 Presidency organized a workshop on the G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats, launched in 2020 by the G20 leaders during the Presidency held by Saudi Arabia.

Workshop on the G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats

On May 25th the Italian G20 Presidency organized a workshop on the G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats, launched in 2020 by the G20 leaders during the Presidency held by Saudi Arabia.

The workshop intended to highlight viable best practice examples, to better understand how to set high standards of excellence, to provide updates on its implementation and to brainstorm the future direction of the Initiative, as well as to gather feedback. The outcome of the discussions will help frame, enrich and orient the 10-year Strategic Framework and 3-year Operational Plan of the Initiative.

The workshop – attended by almost all the G20 member states and several International organizations – was scheduled in two sections: 1) “Land-based solutions: Showcasing and panel discussion” and 2) “Brainstorming on the Initiative’s four pillars”. There was a very positive response from participants to the workshop taking the floor – ten G20 Members and six organizations. The contributions delivered allowed a fruitful discussion.

The workshop clearly revealed the depth and breadth of the diverse initiatives that G20 member countries are currently undertaking to address the challenge of reducing land degradation and enhancing conservation of terrestrial habitats in ways to contribute to multiple ecological, economic, and social benefits. A recurrent consideration, also in the presentations, was the clear opportunity to consider the Initiative as a call to “think globally, act locally”. Presenters highlighted also the importance to act collaboratively and within the context of globally recognised challenges and opportunities’, emphasizing that land-based solutions connect with global commitments and targets, especially the Agenda 2030 and its SDGs, as well as with goals and targets of other UN Conventions.

Member countries offered a large number of best practices in restoration, also involving nature-based solutions, such as in agri-silvo-pastoral systems, conservation, protection and restoration of forests and other land types, and regenerative and restorative agriculture. Even if of a different scale, these experiences enabled member countries to share and learn from each other. Particularly G20 states offered insights into transformative changes in policies, legal frameworks, stakeholder collaboration modalities, and cooperation methods, all aiming at deploying the best available knowledge and experience on land restoration and on land-based solutions.

The presentations also highlighted the importance of national regulatory frameworks in considering the multidimensional and multi-sectoral aspects of implementing land restoration practices – to reach Land Degradation Neutrality – and mobilize finance and private sector engagement. They confirmed the need for multilateral collaboration and the importance of frameworks that can help to better link, share and learn from efforts that can be led centrally or may result from local subsidiarity, in a paradigm ensuring multiple benefits from land management and stewardship.

Almost all members’ presentations emphasized the economic benefits of restoration, particularly in light of the ongoing post-COVID recovery efforts. A recurrent theme was the engagement with the private sector.

As a number of member countries reported, restoration and conservation are two sides of the same coin, and several common solutions can be envisaged. Participants emphasized also the integration of restoration efforts, with its broader definition also encompassing conservation and sustainable land management, into mainstream development, and that sustainable development is dependent on restoration being effective and effectively embedded in a range of policies, strategies and programs, for instance by the EU.

In the second section, the UNCCD Secretariat contributed introducing the G20 Global Initiative ten-year strategy and the three-year operational plan as the means to strengthen its Four Pillars.

In sum, key insights from the workshop were:

  • Restoration is an opportunity to align the three Rio Conventions and strengthen synergies.
  • Agreement that land restoration/degradation is not separate from other key issues of biodiversity, water, climate change, food security, desertification, etc.
  • Importance to link local, national, regional and global interventions.
  • Evidence of the availability of whole suites of technologies, solutions, practices, methods, tools, policies, incentives, that need to be captured and made available for adaptation and deployment.
  • COVID-19 has underlined the importance of acting on land restoration and the need to capitalize on that in post-COVID recovery activities.
  • Land sector is increasing in importance for multiple reasons including GHG neutrality, biodiversity conservation, building resilience to drought as well as addressing pollution, improving air quality and other impacts on public health.
  • The initiatives presented also highlighted the importance of inclusive solution-seeking, especially where indigenous and local communities are involved and the importance of traditional knowledge in this aspect.
  • A lot of shared learning is possible in policy reforms and financial regulations.
  • A key aspect will be simultaneously elevating the importance of sound land stewardship at social, political, and commercial levels and also across all sectors.
  • Land-based green finance could deliver a multi-sectoral approach with multiple benefits in terms of climate change, biodiversity and food security.

The Chair also highlighted the role of youth to reinforce land-based solutions in the long term as part of decision-making processes having them today as recipients, and tomorrow as actors.

The workshop ended with Saudi Arabia and Italy closing remarks, welcoming the G20 Global Initiative’s important role in supporting land protection and restoring activities and recalling the main issues discussed.

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