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|SER2017 Call to Action|
7th World Conference on Ecological Restoration sends a strong message: Stop degradation; fulfill the promise of restoration
At the “Triple Border” (Tríplice Fronteira), where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet, more than 1,000 scientists and restoration practitioners, representing environmental and development organizations, private corporations, government agencies, and community leaders came together at the 7th World Conference on Ecological Restoration. During five days of scientific debate, practical workshops, policy discussions, and field trips, these delegates from more than 55 countries discussed the state of ecological restoration across the globe. Inspired by the extraordinary power of nature at Iguassu, the world’s largest waterfall, they joined to deliver a powerful message to the world: Stop ecological degradation and restore ecosystems – now is the time to turn the tide of environmental destruction.
This important gathering was a confluence of the international Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE), and Iberoamerican and Caribbean Society for Ecological Restoration (SIACRE). The organizations jointly issued a Call to Action to address the challenges and opportunities associated with restoring all ecosystems, as well as the urgent need to revitalize and reinforce the essential links between nature and human society.
“If done effectively and sustainably, with a focus on real outcomes over metrics, ecological restoration will greatly aid in protecting biodiversity, improving human health and well-being, ensuring food and water security, delivering goods, services and economic prosperity, and providing critical contributions to both climate change mitigation and adaptation.” (Call to Action, SER 2017)
Never has there been a greater need for this Call to Action. Just this week, alarming headlines from around the world reported hurricanes, flooding and fires that are causing extraordinary loss of life, property, and food and water security.
Natural and human-caused disasters are intensified by political decisions that favor quick profits over environmental protection.
“The Brazilian government’s attempt to roll back environmental protection across Brazil, including the Amazon, does not represent the will of the Brazilian people, scientific consensus, and the needs of future generations. Not only should Brazil strengthen its environmental protections, but we should increase our country’s commitment to high quality restoration,” said José Marcelo Torezan, Chair of the Board of Directors, SOBRE.
Despite so many threats to the environment, the Call to Action opens with optimism. Ecological restoration is a critical tool for preventing environmental disasters and mitigating the impacts of climate change. The world is entering an era of ecological restoration with governments across the globe making impressive commitments to restore degraded lands via the Bonn Challenge, the 20x20 Initiative in Latin America, the Short-term Action Plan on Ecosystem Restoration of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“To realize these international commitments will require an incredible scaling up and consistent investment in human and financial resources for restoration, from both the public and private sectors,” said Consuelo Bonfil, Chair of the Board of Directors, SIACRE.
“This conference highlights the ambitious global momentum for ecological restoration. The world is charting a new path towards a green economy that benefits nature and people” said Al Unwin, Chair of the Board of Directors, SER.
This global conference focused on linking the science and practice of restoration to ensure governments, industry, and practitioners have the tools and resources to effectively implement this important restoration agenda.
“Ecological restoration at the global scale is moving from promise to reality, but significant challenges remain. Only by communicating openly, guaranteeing the integrity of science, and incorporating all stakeholders into the process can we ensure that ecological restoration conserves biodiversity, addresses climate change, and improves human well-being around the world.” (Call to Action, SER 2017)