WHAT IS ECCA30?
ECCA30 seeks to bring 30 million hectares of degraded and deforested land in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia into restoration by 2030. ECCA30 will serve as a regional initiative to secure additional commitments and accelerate the implementation of the Bonn Challenge, a global restoration goal, the Land Degradation Neutrality and land and forest-based targets towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. It will facilitate access to technical and financial support, and reinforce regional cooperation and capacity exchange on forest landscape restoration (FLR). Further, it will help countries receive international and regional recognition of their restoration ambitions connected to their domestic priorities and projects.
WHY DO WE NEED A REGIONAL INITIATIVE?
Driven by biophysical and socio-economic factors that are exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, degradation of land and natural resources is one of the greatest challenges faced by all countries in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. A wide variety of studies have estimated high effects of climate change, land degradation and deforestation to national economies and ecosystem services in Europe and Central Asia. Desertification affects 8% of the European Union territory – representing around 14 million hectares in Southern, Eastern and Central Europe. Of the total land area in Central Asia, 4-10 % of cropland, 27-68 % of pastureland and 1-8 % of forests are already degraded. Due to unproductive soils, 17 % of the total land area in Central Asia is expected to be unsuitable for agriculture by 2080. Although evidence suggests that the rate of deforestation in the region has been decreasing, there are some variations in Central Europe and Central Asia. Particularly, land in the Caucasus and Central Asia is mostly deforested and eroded. In addition, wetlands in the region have declined by 50 % since 1970, and natural and semi-natural grasslands, peatlands and coastal marine habitats have been degraded.
Restoring degraded and deforested landscapes using the FLR approach is the cost-effective long-term sustainable nature-based solution in the region. According to the Economics of Land Degradation, the cumulative cost of soil erosion, forest loss and other types of land degradation over the next 30 years could be as high as USD 288 billion in Central Asia, while investing in restoration and sustainable land management will cost only 53 billion USD during the same period. The cost of inaction in East Europe could be as high as USD 4,813 billion and in West Europe USD 926 billion compared to the cost of action estimated at USD 777 billion and USD 181 billion respectively over the next 30 years. Biodiversity and Ecosystem services’ contribution (regulating, market and non-market economic values) to Europe and Central Asia - includes food production ($233-916 per hectare per year), regulation of freshwater quality ($1,965 per hectare per year), habitat maintenance ($765 per hectare per year), climate ($464 per hectare per year), air quality ($289 per hectare per year), and tourism and recreation ($1,117 per hectare per year).
Globally, restoration of degraded and deforested landscapes has gained recognition as a way for countries to achieve multiple national and international priorities on mitigating climate change, improving livelihoods, reducing desertification and conserving biodiversity. Since 2011, the Bonn Challenge - a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030 - has emerged as a unifying mechanism to help countries implement FLR at scale in support of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) goal under United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FLR ambitions have been reinforced through the existence and influence of regional collaboration platforms, such as Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), launched in 2014 and in 2015 respectively in support of the Bonn Challenge. Furthermore, a suite of Bonn Challenge ministerial level regional processes have emerged since 2015 to drive restoration forward in Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and Latin America, with the Caucasus and Central Asia joining the movement through the 2018 Bonn Challenge Ministerial Meeting where the Astana Resolution was adopted. To date, seven countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia have committed close to 3 million hectares to the Bonn Challenge (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan). Furthermore, a global ambition to restore degraded and deforested landscapes has been supported by Scotland making a pledge of 0.17 million ha to the Bonn Challenge in early 2019. Sixteen countries in the Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia have also committed to set national voluntary LDN targets and their action plans under UNCCD. Although the forest and land-use sector related targets emerge across Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted to UNFCCC by the countries in the region, their potential contribution to mitigation is still limited or conditional. For the post-2020 contributions to Paris Agreement, countries can enhance their NDCs by incorporating forest landscape restoration as part of their forestry and other land use targets.
The 30 million hectare-target is proposed to position Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia as a powerful player in the global FLR movement. This Initiative will reinforce and sustain political support for the Astana Resolution - committing the Caucasus and Central Asia region to go beyond 3 million ha, and strengthen partnerships and regional cooperation. Through this regional initiative, synergies between national, regional and international priorities and commitments can be optimized to deliver transformative change for people and the landscapes they live in. The initiative will help mobilize financial and technical support to implement country-led restoration efforts (from multilateral banks and bilateral donors as well as private sector impact investors, and technical support providers). For example, it can help mobilize PROGREEN Partnership Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) platform that is designed to help fund this kind of regional activities.
EXPECTED RESULTS OF THE REGIONAL INITIATIVE:
- Accelerated progress on national goals and priorities (Bonn Challenge, Astana Resolution, Paris Agreement, LDN, SDGs);
- Finance attracted and domestic, regional and global funds catalysed;
- Platform established to build profile and show leadership at regional and global events;
- Access to technical support enhanced and progress on implementation tracked using the Bonn Challenge Barometer – a progress tracking tool;
- Learning exchanges convened regionally and globally to share best practices and to gain first-hand knowledge.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Interested national and subnational governments, private sector organizations and other institutions can express their interest in joining the initiative as a pledger (government) or technical & financial partner (non-government organizations) by sending a letter to the Bonn Challenge secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org). Pledges may be new FLR initiatives over a specified number of hectares or enhancements of existing national or sub-national initiatives covering specific numbers of hectares if these are explicitly being: (1) aligned with the FLR principles, and (2) brought under restoration through existing programmes in 2010 onwards. A country that has already made a pledge to the Bonn Challenge can join the initiative by sending an endorsement letter to the Bonn Challenge Secretariat. New pledges to the Bonn Challenge by ECCA30 countries signal an endorsement of the initiative. Letters may be sent to the Secretariat by the President, Minister(s) or other appropriate national authorities, or by private landowners. Contributions to the ECCA30 initiative in support of the Bonn Challenge by technical and financial partners include technical or financial commitments to support countries’ scaling up FLR efforts.
Country ownership is a key principle of ECCA30 Initiative. The initiative will be led by participating countries while the secretariat and partner organizations will complement these efforts where needed. Therefore, governance structure is envisioned as follows:
- The Governing Board consists of country representatives who will provide strategic advice on the initiative, sustain political support and mobilize new partnerships;
- The Secretariat will be led by IUCN, UNECE,FAO, WRI and the World Bank and will have different secretariat functions to support ECCA30, in line with their strength and mandate. The Secretariat will serve as the main contact to confirm contributions and to facilitate the coordination of pledgers and partners engaged in technical and financial assistance, knowledge sharing, progress tracking and reporting.
- The Partnership Board consists of donors and partner organizations providing policy, technical and financial support to countries under ECCA30 Initiative. UNCCD is supporting this initiative.
 UNECE and FAO, as responsible for the Ministerial Roundtable on Forest Landscape Restoration and the Bonn Challenge for Caucasus and Central Asia; Ministerial Roundtable on Forest Landscape Restoration and the Bonn Challenge for Eastern and South-Eastern Europe; Strategy for Greening the landscapes and Infrastructure.