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Celeb UN ambassadors announce first 10 UN World Restoration Flagships at COP-15

Mountain flagship feature image
Source: Philippe Matheini and Michael Booth/UNEP

The United Nations (UN) has recognised 10 initiatives from around the world for their role in restoring the natural world. The winning initiatives were announced at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, Canada.  There was a special virtual gala event hosted by Indian National Geographic Explorer and wildlife filmmaker Malaika Vaz; and featuring actors Jason Momoa and Edward Norton, Dr. Jane Goodall, and other famous UN ambassadors.

Decade of restoration

The initiatives will be eligible to receive UN-backed promotion, advice or funding and were selected under the banner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global movement coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Each initiative is an example of the most ambitious, promising and inspirational ways of reviving land and coasts.” – Malaika Vaz, National Geographic Explorer and host of the virtual gala event 

Watch: the virtual gala event where the 10 Restoration Flagships were announced Source: UN Environment Programme

Taking action in reviving land and restoring our bond with nature is very much needed. We are dealing with a triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. It is obvious that we need food, water and housing and we get that from nature. But we are over-extracting from nature; we erode the soils and that makes climate change hit even harder. At the same time, we also see that if we give nature the opportunity to restore and we help a little, that it actually does so. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), states in the video of the virtual gala why it is so important to highlight the restoration flagships.

“That’s why these 10 Flagships are so critical, because they shine a spotlight, different communities doing different things. It’s very exciting, so we’re very pleased to see these now featured, so that we can show the world that it’s not lost. It’s entirely within our grasp. We just need to do it.” – Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UNEP

10 ambitious and promising initiatives

Together, the 10 initiatives aim to restore more than 68 million hectares of lands and coasts, an area bigger than Myanmar, France, or Somalia, and create nearly 15 million jobs. The goal set by the UN for this decade of restoration is to revive even 1 billion hectares of nature. This first 10 initiatives are the most ambitious, promising and inspirational ways of reviving land.

Moreover, this nomination is not a prize and support for a government. No, the projects spread out to 23 countries and bring together hundreds of organisations working together to restore nature. Celebrity UN-ambassadors such as actor Jason Momoa, singer Ellie Goulding and dr. Jane Goodall all announced a flagship project. Also, one of the winners was announced by Gary Bencheghib, Ramon Magsaysay Award winner and a BrightVibes favorite who works on river cleaning in Indonesia with his organisation Sungai Watch. Gary announced the Restoration Flagship: Building with Nature Indonesia, an initiative that replants and revives mangroves in the muds of Demak.

Demak, a low-lying coastal community on Indonesia’s main island of Java, has been plagued by erosion, flooding and land loss caused by the removal of mangroves for aquaculture ponds, land subsidence and infrastructure. Rather than replanting mangrove trees, this innovative World Restoration Flagship has built fence-like structures with natural materials along the shore to calm waves and trap sediment, creating conditions for mangroves to rebound naturally. The total length of permeable structures built is 3.4 km and 199 hectares of mangroves have been restored. In return for letting mangroves regenerate, the Building with Nature team organised Coastal Field Schools for farmers to pilot sustainable aquaculture techniques that can co-exist with mangroves and increased their shrimp production.

Down here, we list the 10 World Restoration Flagships, so you can read about all of them.

  1. Small Island Developing States Restorations Flagships (Vanuatu, St. Lucia and Comoros)
  2. Building With Nature Indonesia (Demak, Indonesia)
  3. Resoration of Coastal and Marine Life (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
  4. Trinational Atlantic Forest Pack (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay)
  5. Central American Dry Corridor (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama)
  6. Great Green Wall for Restoration and Peace (Burkina Faso and Niger)
  7. Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative (Kazakhstan)
  8. Shan Shui Initiative (China)
  9. Multi-Country Mountain Flagship (from Rwanda to Kyrgyzstan)
  10. The Namami Gange Initiative (India)
Make an Impact

Support Sungai Watch

Check out the 10 Restoration Flagships and see if your country is involved in nature restoration. Maybe you can support a local project, but otherwise you can also support Sungai Watch by sponsoring a barrier or cleanup, but you can also just donate. Your support will allow Sungai Watch to fund their cleanup operations around Indonesia by organizing more river, mangrove and illegal landfill cleanups. The funds will entirely go towards the project.

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