‘Restoration Barometer’: New global resource unveiled to track growing nature regeneration efforts

Pictured: Tortuguero Beach, Costa Rica

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has today (12 December) published its first Restoration Barometer report. Using data provided by 18 countries, the report tracks national progress towards nature restoration commitments made via international agreements. It provides data on public finance, private finance and the real-world impact of these investments.

Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are included in the Barometer.

This first edition of the Barometer details cumulative investment of $26bn from public and private sectors – a level of investment that has supported restoration activities on more than 14 million hectares.

The restoration activities detailed in the report, the IUCN estimates, have created 12 million net jobs and enabled the sequestration of 145 million tonnes of CO2 this year alone. For context, this is more than the annual emissions of the Philippines, which stand at around 127 million tonnes.

At present, only the restoration of inland waters, terrestrial habitats and coastlands are covered by the Barometer. Next year, the Barometer will be further extended to include restoration efforts relating to several key marine solutions and habitats including kelp, seagrasses and shallow reefs.

Given that 50 governments have signalled their endorsement for the Barometer, we can expect more nations to be providing data for future editions. This will further help to quantify the state of nature restoration finance, which Governments have acknowledged will need to be scaled significantly to avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction.

Negotiators on the ground in Montreal, Canada, for the UN’s 15 biodiversity COP, are seeking to agree on a new post-2020 global treaty with a headline commitment to end nature degradation this decade and bring about a new era of large-scale, rapid regeneration.

The IUCN’s head of forests and grasslands, Carole Saint-Laurent, said the new Barometer will enable nations “to build a comprehensive picture of their progress, helping them to identify what is working, where and how, which leads to more impactful action and better targeted investments”. She added: “This means restoration efforts can not only be maximised but fully sustained during this critical decade to save our natural world.”

Going forward, the IUCN wants to see large businesses using the Barometer as well as nations. This is in recognition of the increasing number of businesses looking to achieve a net-positive impact on nature. The World Economic Forum and the One Trillion Trees initiative are collaborating with more than 30 businesses to pilot the tool. A new private sector part of the Barometer will launch online next year.

Just transition opportunities

As expected, the IUCN is hosting several events and reports to coincide with biodiversity COP15.

Late last week, the organisation published a new piece of research addressing the job creation and economic benefits of delivering international nature goals. The headline conclusion of the report, which was produced in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme and International Labour Organisation, was that 20 million jobs could be created this decade if investment in nature-based solutions is tripled.

This would represent a significant expansion for the nature-based solutions sector, which currently employs around 75 million people worldwide, but mostly on a part-time and low-income basis. The report sets out how jobs in the sector can be improved as it grows, leading to increased wellbeing and better livelihoods for those in low-income nations in nature-related jobs.

Improving jobs and creating jobs, the report states, will require a more joined-up approach from policymakers. Governments will need to link their responses to poverty, food and water systems management, climate adaptation, climate mitigation and nature.

The report sets out recommendations for designing policies with the just transition in mind, including dedicated support for skills and education; stronger implementation of core labour standards and financial incentives and support for enterprises and cooperatives.

“It is critical that as we scale up the use of Nature-based Solutions we make sure we do not also scale up decent work deficits, such as the informal work, low-pay and low productivity conditions that many workers in NbS currently face,” said the ILO’s director of enterprises Vic van Vuuren. “The ILO’s Just Transition Guidelines provide a framework to help us do this.”

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