On June 25, 2021, the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) concluded its 9th World Conference on Ecological Restoration (SER2021) with a powerful call to action to nations around the world: conservation alone is not enough.
We must invest in restoration and rebuild degraded areas to improve biodiversity, increase habitat for wildlife, enhance soils and watersheds, support economic resiliency, and better confront a changing climate, all of which are critical to supporting human health and wellbeing. Further, expanding justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of ecosystem restoration is imperative for the success of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
A fully virtual conference, SER2021 was the organization’s most accessible conference to date. Over 1300 participants from 70 countries took part in the event over 4 days.
“The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration presents a unique opportunity to reverse climate change and secure a healthy, sustainable and just future for people and nature,” said Karma Bouazza, Co-Chair of SER2021. “This Decade is for all of us. We must all feel empowered to act, knowing that through collective individual actions we can have global impact.”
SER’s call to action urged all nations, people, and sectors to embrace the UN Decade in both spirit and action, to:
- Implement ecological restoration worldwide to achieve measurable improvements in both social and ecological conditions by 2030.
- Champion the UN Decade Principles for Ecosystem Restoration as the foundation for all restorative activities that are to be implemented in the name of, and measured towards, UN Decade goals to achieve net improvement for both nature and people.
- Where appropriate, prioritize ecological restoration over less impactful interventions in order to generate the greatest potential improvement in both ecological and social conditions.
- Elevate restoration of non-forest ecosystems (e.g. wetlands, marine ecosystems, grasslands, drylands) as equally important to forests, in terms of financial and political investment, media coverage, capacity building, and assessments of the benefits of restoration.
- Equitably finance all aspects of the ecosystem restoration agenda in a sustainable, transparent, and just manner, including distribution of benefits from restoration, that recognizes and supports local knowledge and capacity building.
- Prioritize and resolve key governance challenges that impede restoration, such as ineffective policies, perverse incentives, poor participatory mechanisms, and conflicts over land and resource rights.
“Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer was perhaps the first to describe restoration as an ‘antidote to despair’. Throughout this conference we have seen the transformative power of restoration for individuals, for local communities, for entire countries, and even for entire continents,” said Luiz Moraes, Co-Chair of SER2021.
“Ecological restoration delivers clean water, supports healthy soils for food production, protects biodiversity, and helps keep our planet cool. It enhances the safety and security of our planet and all its species. Most importantly, it provides hope. Though it may not be easy, it is essential for our future and for our children’s future,” he continued.
The Society for Ecological Restoration advances the science, practice and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture. An international non-profit organization with over 4,000 members in more than 85 countries, they actively promote participatory, knowledge-based approaches to restoration.