African Leaders Share Major Milestones in Landscapes Restoration Goals

04 October 2018

Rallying behind a call to restore 100 million hectares of degraded landscapes across Africa by 2030, Solidaridad sparked a global conversation on the restoration of Africa’s landscapes during the Global Landscapes Forum held in Nairobi from 29 to 30 August.

Global Landscapes Forum 2018 - Nairobi, Kenya

Key speakers at the event included Kenya’s chief administrative secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,  Rwanda’s minister for Lands & Forestry, and the senior advisor of Sustainable Transitions from the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO).

During the discussion sessions, stakeholders shared achievements in forest reclamation as well as strategies for new approaches:

  • So far, 26 African countries have pledged to restore 91 million hectares of degraded landscapes.
  • Kenya has increased efforts aimed at restoring the Mau Forest and Riparian lands that have been encroached upon by private developers.
  • Kenya has committed to reclaim 5.1 million hectares of land, as the country’s contribution towards realizing Africa’s 100 million hectares restoration target by 2030.
  • Kenya and Rwanda are spearheading the ban of plastic use, as an ecosystem restorative measure.
  • Rwanda has reclaimed 690,000 hectares of degraded land so far and committed to restore 2 million hectares of forests by 2030.
  • In Burundi, coffee landscapes restoration efforts were conducted peacefully and managed to prevent the recurrence of natural resources-related conflicts in the country.

Through donor sponsorship from RVO, strategic partnerships with EcoAgriculture and Landscapes for People Food and Nature (LFPFN), Solidaridad has developed and tested tools that promote sustainable landscapes and restoration. The organization has successfully convened multi-stakeholder fora that have positively impacted governments, communities, economies, lives, and made a contribution to the sustenance and restoration of global ecosystems.

Read on to learn more about the evolving sustainability strategies discussed during the Global Landscapes Forum.

Nature is not a place to visit... It's home.

It is estimated that Africa loses 2.8 million hectares of forest annually to deforestation and land degradation. For this reason, Solidaridad partnered with like-minded actors to advocate for the restoration of degraded landscapes around the globe.

Solidaridad East & Central Africa Sustainable Landscapes Team - Doreen Mushira, Julius Rono, Nancy Rapando

Sparking the Conversation on Landscapes Restoration

In his opening remarks during the Global Landscapes Forum, Julius Rono, the Solidaridad East & Central Africa programme manager for Sustainable Landscapes, articulated the organization’s commitment and efforts in ensuring sustainable global landscapes. He said that Solidaridad had diversified its efforts and commitments to landscapes restoration by engaging diverse actors from the private sector, government, small holder farmers, and civil society organizations.

Rono observed that sustainable production can only be realized when ecosystem degradation issues are intelligently and exhaustively factored. He said by engaging actors through multi-stakeholder platforms, Solidaridad has structured logical conversations and attained sustainable solutions that address factors affecting the ecosystem. He gave an example of Solidaridad’s interventions at the Kilimanjaro in Tanzania focusing on Fruits & Vegetables, Livestock, and Coffee value chains. He said through the organization’s multi-stakeholder platforms, actors along these value chains are actively involved in ensuring ecosystem conservation, while increasing production. He revealed that Solidaridad’s strategy on evidence building demonstrates that proper ecosystem management translates to increased productivity.

Addressing delegates at the Forum, Nancy Rapando, Solidaridad East & Central Africa’s climate innovations specialist, stated that so far 26 African countries had pledged to restore 91 million hectares of degraded landscapes. Rapando urged governments to map the degraded riverines, road reserves, range lands, crop lands, forests and new forests; to form a mosaic of landscapes for restoration. She said the realization of ecosystem restoration commitments made by respective countries will result in environmentally secure and stable cities.

She underscored the importance of engaging communities, policy makers, youths, scientists, governments and all relevant stakeholders in concrete conversations that influence behaviour change. Rapando commended the government of Kenya for its efforts aimed at restoring the Mau Forest and Riparian lands that had been encroached by private developers. She further acknowledged efforts by the Republics of Rwanda and Kenya in spearheading the ban of plastic use, as an ecosystem restorative measure.

Solidaridad works closely with governments to influence formulation of friendly policies that ensure conducive operational environments. Through the organization’s multi-stakeholder approaches, Solidaridad, as a system actor, has been able to convince governments to lay requisite infrastructure that attracts foreign and private sector investments. Rapando urged the delegates to adopt the multi-stakeholder and partnership building approaches as a means to attain the ambitious Bonn Challenge target of restoring 350 million hectares of land by 2030.

Mohamed Elmi, Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources

Forests and Landscapes Restoration Efforts in Kenya

Addressing participants during the Global Landscapes Forum, Mohamed Elmi, the chief administrative secretary of Environment and Natural Resources observed that Kenya’s efforts towards reclaiming and restoring landscapes begun in earnest in the 1980s and 1990s. He noted former President Daniel Arap Moi’s efforts in mobilizing Kenyans to control soil erosion by building gabions. He also acknowledged the efforts of the late Nobel Laureate and Prof. Wangari Maathai, who fiercely fought for and protected the Karura Forest and Uhuru Park from destruction.

Elmi stated that Kenya is a signatory to most of the international environmental commitments, and cited the constitutional mandate to ensure 10% forest cover in Kenya by the year 2030. He further said that Kenya had committed to reclaim 5.1 million hectares of land, as the country’s contribution towards realizing Africa’s 100 million hectares restoration target by 2030.

Mohamed Elmi observed that strategic approaches to mobilize and involve communities with diverse cultural backgrounds and varied land use habits was key in realizing the national and continental restorative targets. He added that laws and policies have been established, mapping has been undertaken and monitoring tools are in place. Elmi called upon the delegates to go beyond commitments, conferences and start the restoration implementation process.

Francine Tumushime, Rwanda’s Minister for Lands & Forestry

Rwanda’s Commitment to the Bonn Challenge

Hon. Eng. Francine Tumushime, Rwanda’s minister for Lands & Forestry, reiterated that a healthy ecosystem is a driver of sustainable livelihoods, food security and climate resilience. She observed that agriculture accounts for 70% of deforestation in the tropics globally. Tumushime said that urbanization acceleration puts pressure on land resources, consequently escalating land and forestry degradation that ultimately leads to devastating effects of climate variations.

She observed that due to lack of effective measures to cope with the disastrous climate change effects, the globe continues to experience rise in sea levels, desertification, water and food scarcity. To reverse this tide and the ever increasing challenges of landscape degradation, Tumushime urged the delegates to embrace holistic approaches and balance development needs with sustainable landscape restoration.

Tumushime acknowledged the feasibility of the ambitious Bonn Challenge initiated in 2011 to restore 350 million hectares of landscapes globally by 2030. She observed that a significant number of African countries have already committed to the Bonn endeavour, registering notable restorative activities. To accelerate implementation of the commitments, Tumushime advocated for country-driven domesticated strategies and behaviour change in country investments to ensure that restoration pledges made by respective countries are met within the stipulated timeframes. She reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to restore 2 million hectares of degraded land and forests by 2030, adding that the country had so far reclaimed 690,000 hectares.

Rwanda has devised home-grown solutions to achieve the national green growth agenda where everyone’s efforts count. Tumushime cited the ‘Omuganda’ community works undertaken monthly by communities to ensure afforestation, soil erosion control, cleaning of the environment, among other activities. She revealed that sector-oriented efforts had been adopted to ensure climate-smart agriculture, and strengthening the country’s planning and administrative agricultural systems.

The late Nobel Laureate and Prof. Wangari Maathai who fiercely protected the Karura Forest and Uhuru Park from destruction

Unlocking Private Sector Capital for Restoration

Caroline Van Leenders, the senior advisor of Sustainable Transitions from the Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO), noted that attracting private sector partnership in landscapes restoration was an uphill task. She said, “Considering the sector’s high orientation to profit maximization, it is important for development actors to change tact when approaching the private sector for partnerships”.

Van Leenders observed that the private sector can only be interested in restoration efforts once they understand the profitability aspects of this noble cause to their businesses. She urged development actors to demonstrate the social and economic value that restoration has to offer, to enable them tap into private sector resources. She observed that resilient landscapes form a core natural capital that contributes to food and nutrition security, employment opportunities, and alternative livelihoods that spur economic growth. Van Leenders further noted that these aspects perpetuate national peace, stability and security.

Julius Rono, the Solidaridad East & Central Africa’s programme manager for Sustainable Landscapes, underscored the value of peace and tranquility in African emerging states. He cited how the coffee landscapes restoration efforts in Burundi were peacefully undertaken and managed to prevent recurrence of natural resources-related conflicts in the country.

To ensure the flow of financial resources from the private sector, Solidaridad supports the investment-readiness of smallholder farmers. This is achieved through building producers’ capacities in smart farming and financial management, as well as encouraging them to join cooperatives that enable them access to credit. This way, Solidaridad has managed to de-risk several investments, support producers to break-even and increase their production volumes.

Nancy Rapando, Solidaridad East & Central Africa’s climate innovations specialist, observed that 65% of African landscapes were affected by degradation. She noted that the public sector’s financial envelope was shrinking given the relative slow economic growth experienced globally. The Bonn Challenge estimates that $36 billion will be required to restore 1.5 million hectares annually, therefore alternative sources to finance this ambitious endeavour should be explored.

Rapando said that active participation of private sector in landscapes sustainability can go a long way in bridging the resources gap. She further urged individual countries to build domestic financial reserves dedicated to landscape restoration, strengthen peer learning approaches and build national and continental movements for the restoration of degraded lands.

Learn more about Solidaridad programmes in East & Central Africa.

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