Launched by world leaders

In September 2011, at a high-level event co-hosted by the German Ministry of the Environment and IUCN, the 2020 Bonn Challenge target was launched by leaders from around the world. The original Bonn Challenge target was later endorsed and extended to 2030 by the New York Declaration on Forests of the 2014 UN Climate Summit.

Leaders at Bonn vowed to promote a landscape approach to restoration rather than taking a narrower localized approach (such as straightforward reforestation). They highlighted restoration's importance across sectors, including in agriculture, energy, water, poverty alleviation and climate change.

Regional implementation platforms for the Bonn Challenge are emerging around the world, including Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and the Caribbean, AFR100 for Africa, and ministerial roundtables in Latin America, East and Central Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.

The Bonn Challenge is intended to be an implementation platform for several existing international commitments, detailed below. 

Global Commitments fulfilled through the Bonn Challenge

Following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio "Earth Summit") in 1992, more than 168 countries signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and comitted collective action to sustain life on earth. The CBD established a number of "biodiversity targets" for countries to pursue through ecosystem persevation and sustainable development activities. The Bonn Challenge aids implementation of Target 15, which states: By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks have been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.

Land Degradation Neutrality was born out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) where Member States “recognized the need for urgent action to reverse land degradation." The members of that event elected to "strive to achieve a land-degradation-neutral world in the context of sustainable development.” Since that landmark event the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has established an Intergovernmental Working Group to develop concrete options for preventing and reversing land degradation through good land management and restoration. The Bonn Challenge goal stands as one implementation vehicle for the Rio + 20 Land Degradation Neutrality aspiration.

Deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, destructive logging, etc., account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. "REDD+" goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Forest landscape restoration pursued under the Bonn Challenge can serve as one implementation stream for achieving REDD+ goals.