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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MANAMA — As the world faces the triple threat of climate change, loss of nature and pollution, there is no time to lose in addressing these critical environmental threats. Today, on World Environment Day, the United Nations Environment Program and the Food and Agricultural Organization are launching the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration; a crucial decade for countries to deliver on their international environmental commitments such as the Paris Agreement.
It will aim to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.
Back in 2019, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration following a proposal for action by over 70 countries.
It will build a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future that will include building political momentum for restoration as well as thousands of initiatives and practices on the ground such as reforestation, to re-wetting peatlands and coral rehabilitation.
The world’s ecosystems — from oceans to forests to farmlands — are being degraded, in many cases at an accelerating rate. The COVID 19 pandemic has made us realize the importance of our environment and that while causes of degradation are various and complex, one thing is clear: the massive economic growth of recent decades has come at the cost of ecological health.
Unprecedented growth in the West Asia region has also put pressure on natural ecosystems. The region is extremely sensitive to changes in land use and to the impacts of climate change; some countries more than others. Some factors such as declining land cover, water scarcity and rapid population growth are contributing to and exacerbating land degradation in this arid to semi-arid region.
Marine environments and specifically coral reefs are changing quicker than they can recover by themselves.
“Achieving successful ecosystem restoration at scale in the West Asia region will require deep changes to grasp the economic, social and ecological benefits. This includes adopting inclusive wealth as a more accurate measure of economic progress, creating an enabling environment for public -private partnerships, taking action on food waste, making more efficient use of agricultural land, and encouraging a shift to a more plant-based diet,” said Sami Dimassi, UNEP regional director and representative for West Asia.
“The UN Decade will require action by everyone: governments, donors, institutions working on restoration, public and private institutions, civil societies local communities and youth. We already see a lot of key initiatives under way in the region which are definitely a move in the right direction and we are excited to work closely with all stakeholders to scale up restoration in the region to further boost biodiversity and mitigate against climate change,” added Dimassi. — SG
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