UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration

It is certainly good news that the United Nations has declared 2021-30 to be the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration. At the outset as a justification for this it can be stated without risk of contradiction that the need for ecosystem restoration was never greater than in present times. There has been so much devastation, and taken together this has taken the form of nothing less than a survival crisis. Hence if the decade starting today January 1 2021 is to be implemented as the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, implying thereby that the United Nations ( led by its two agencies UNEP and FAO)  but of course also involving others, will contribute to Ecosystem Restoration much more than has been the case so far, then of course this is most welcome. Some ambitious targets have already been mentioned.

However it is still not very clear  how much additional funds will be committed for this over the decade, to what extent firm commitment for this is already available and from which sources. Many programs for ecosystem restoration ,  including some big ones, implemented by several national and international agencies exist already, and it will be important to know to what extent this UN Decade will add to these, as distinguished from coordination of existing efforts .

Also it will be important to know what is being done to check the systemic factors which have caused so much ecosystem destruction and continue to do so. Surely apart from restoration we need to check the continuing huge onslaught on ecosystems, and the forces which drive this onslaught.

Thirdly, we need to be reassured that the Decade related activities will avoid big business interests and heavily funded consultancies etc. which in the past have taken away a very big chunk of the budget of such declarations, while leaving little for real grassroots work to be taken up with the involvement of communities, particularly weaker sections.

Last but not the least, are adequate steps being taken to improve conditions of continuing peace, avoiding war and conflict, achieving very ambitious disarmament goals, without which conducive conditions for sustained and big work on ecosystem restoration, and the international cooperation needed for this, may not be possible?

Particularly in this last context I will like to briefly mention a different approach of another campaign, initiated by this writer, which integrated the concerns of protection of environment and ecosystems with the elimination of weapons of mass destruction as well as other peace and disarmament goals. This campaign is called  Save the Earth Campaign with its SED Demand ( Demand for declaring the next decade as the Decade for Saving Earth). This campaign sets and integrates specific important objectives like restricting global warming to 1.5 degree C, eliminating all weapons of mass destruction plus related goals and calls for all these goals to be reached within a framework of justice , democracy and peace. The Convener wrote seven  books in English and Hindi to expand on the ideas of this campaign relating to environment protection, peace, justice, equality, democracy and concern for all aspects of their life. The endorsement for several leading academics, activists and social movements such as Aruna Roy and the MKSS, PV Rajagopal and Ekta Parishad, Jean Dreaze, Razia Ismail and the India Alliance for Child Rights, Vimla  and Sunderlal Bahugna, Pandurang Hegde and Appiko Movement, Suvrat Das and CBGA, Kavitha Kuruganti and ASHA network, Dunu Roy,  Jagmohan Singh and Shahid Bhagat Singh Research Committee, to mention only a few of the leading endorsees, was taken and thrice a petition based on this was sent to the United Nations Secretary General. This provides a much broader framework for a declaration of a decade committed above all to saving the basic life nurturing conditions of our planet within a framework of justice, peace and democracy.

Bharat Dogra, a veteran journalist and author, is Convener of Campaign to Save Earth with its SED Demand. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Man Over Machine and Earth Without Borders. Web-site—bharatdogra.in


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