By IUCN

 - November 21, 2018

Guatemala hosted a regional Bonn Challenge meeting with several Latin American countries just days before it completed its national forest landscape restoration opportunities assessment.

High-level government leaders from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Cuba, and Ecuador joined forest landscape restoration (FLR) experts and implementation partners at the 4th Latin America High Level Bonn Challenge Meeting in Guatemala in May 2018. Hosted by the governments of Guatemala, Germany and Norway, and organised with the support of IUCN and the REDD+ Landscape Programme/CCAD-GiZ, the event sparked pragmatic dialogue towards advancing scaled-up implementation of FLR commitments, encouraged the sharing of experiences on how to better integrate the key elements for success in terms of public/private financing, empowerment of local governments and communities, and addressing developmental needs for a more resilient economy.

Ursula Parrilla of IUCN’s Guatemala Office opened the meeting by highlighting that 30% of all Bonn Challenge FLR commitments come from Latin America, culminating in pledges to bring 50 million hectares into restoration. “The implementation of these pledges will mobilise more than 1 billion dollars of impact investment for FLR in the region,” she continued. Ms. Parrilla then pointed to regional priorities addressed by FLR including: decreasing soil degradation from unsustainable agriculture and livestock practices, improving water availability restoring habitats important for biodiversity and enhancing the resilience of local communities who are vulnerable to natural disasters.

Representing the host country of the previous Bonn Challenge regional event in Latin America, the Honduran Secretary of State for the Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mining, Jose Antonio Galdames, highlighted the importance of creating alliances between different actors who contribute to restoration at the landscape level. He emphasised that partnerships are crucial for advancement in areas as diverse as: certification of sustainable forest products; generation of fair trade systems that incentivise smallholders to integrate into value chains that support restoration; identification of tourism opportunities, local livelihoods generation; and the need to be inclusive of productive sectors that have an impact on the landscape such as agriculture, livestock and forestry. The Minister reminded those in attendance that in order for restoration to thrive, countries must not forget the human face of restoration. Communities and people are the ones driving FLR and their active contribution is essential for achieving the Bonn Challenge.

 El Salvador representative, Jorge Ernesto Quezada on behalf of Minister Pohl informed participants about El Salvador’s proposal to promulgate the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2020 – 2030, and invited countries and organisations to support this initiative when announced at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly. Participants welcomed El Salvador’s announcement and expressed their support.

 Also noted during the meeting was that most regional REDD+ strategies are being implemented through restoration activities that tackle both degradation and deforestation challenges. The FLR approach promotes the involvement of many sectors, institutional actors and local stakeholders, which is key to generating solid and long-term strategies. REDD+ strategies and FLR plans should continue to build linkages to achieve greater impact.

 The Bonn Challenge demonstrates that achieving transformational change through collaboration and joint effort is possible. Voluntary commitments backed up with strong political will be an effective vehicle to implement low-emission strategies and nature-based solutions. Progress on the Bonn Challenge in Latin America continues to advance through high level meetings and action on the ground.

Update November 2018: Guatemala’s National Roundtable on Forest Landscape Restoration hosted an official event on Nov 8th where the Oportunidades de restauración del paisaje forestal en Guatemala was officially launched. Click here for details.

—Written by Adriana Vidal and Swati Hingorani

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Country: Guatemala