Many paths to one goal

The Bonn Challenge is an international goal championed by civic, business and government leaders from around the world. Progress toward the goal - the restoration of the world's degraded lands - is driven by many initiatives, from the regional down to the local level.

Bonn Challenge Global Ambassador

Renowned human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger, is IUCN's Global Ambassador for the Bonn Challenge. "Restoring degraded and deforested land is an issue of the most basic human rights," say Jagger. "The right to food, shelter, clean water and sustainable livelihoods - this lies at the heart of the Bonn Challenge."

In 2014, Bianca Jagger sat down with IUCN's Arborvitae magazine to explain why she became the Bonn Challenge's Global Ambassador.

“These commitments reflect that there is a growing understanding that restoring forests helps us ensure food, water and livelihood security for vulnerable communities, generates economic opportunities for businesses and governments and preserves biodiversity,” says Bianca Jagger, IUCN Bonn Challenge Ambassador, who was on hand to present on behalf of Bonn Challenge pledgers unable to attend IUCN Congress in person. She continued, “I am grateful for the opportunity to shine a light on their leadership and determination to achieve the Bonn Challenge and most importantly to bring hope and prosperity to their communities.”

AV: How does the issue of the Bonn Challenge and forest landscape restoration fit in with your other work?

The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation mandate is to defend human rights, achieve social justice, protect the environment, and speak up for present and future generations. Climate change will have devastating effects on every aspect of our lives: peace, security, human rights, poverty, hunger, health, land scarcity, mass migration and economics. Restoring 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land is an issue of the most basic human rights - the rights to life, food, health and water, to name a few.

AV: Why do you think the Bonn Challenge is gaining so much attention?

The Bonn Challenge is a historic agreement. World leaders have failed to sign a global, legally binding agreement to curb carbon emissions. We are not doing enough to avoid catastrophic climate change and we are not doing it fast enough. Land restoration is a goal that governments, corporations, NGOs, landowners, communities and individuals can commit to now that will have a real impact on reducing Co2 emissions. It can effect change and improve the lives of millions – in our lifetime.

Is this a truly global issue?

Yes. Land restoration will be part of the solution to the looming climate, energy and water crises that we are facing in the world today. It’s critical that all nations get behind the Bonn Challenge and Plant a Pledge. Land is already scarce, we face water shortages and droughts - and climate change remains a real and growing threat. We must act if we want to hand down a habitable world to future generations.

What have you found to be the most common misconceptions about the issue of forest landscape restoration?

People often confuse land restoration with reforestation. Plant a Pledge and the Bonn Challenge are not just about planting trees. People and communities are at the heart of the restoration effort. It’s about using land sustainably in a huge variety of ways – agriculture, protected wildlife reserves, ecological corridors, regenerated forests, managed plantations, agroforestry systems and river or lakeside plantings to protect waterways.

The Bonn Challenge target date is 2020. What do you hope we will see in 2020?

I hope that by 2020, forest landscape restoration will be well underway on 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land. I’d like to see the projects which are beginning now start to reap the rewards of their hard work – that previously degraded land will be providing food, fuel, shelter, shade, income, controlling soil erosion, reducing Co2 emissions, conserving water and breathing oxygen into the atmosphere. And I really hope that we’ll have decided that restoring 150 million hectares is just the beginning…