Bonn Challenge regional roundtable in Astana pledges restoration of more than 2.5 million hectares of forest
Eight countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus have joined the Bonn Challenge and committed to contributing to the goal of restoring 150 million hectares of forest worldwide by 2020. In the Astana Resolution, they expressed their resolve to expand regional cooperation on the conservation and restoration of forests and forest landscapes. Government representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan committed to this goal at a regional ministerial meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan on 21 and 22 June 2018 and pledged the restoration of 2.5 million hectares of forest.
President of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation Beate Jessel opened the conference for State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth, remarking: "The forests of the Caucasus and Central Asia are case in point for the abundance of natural resources in this region, which must be honoured and protected. Land degradation, loss of biodiversity and the effects of climate change have a transnational character and can only be addressed through regional cooperation. The German government therefore attaches particular importance to finding regional solutions and strengthening intergovernmental cooperation and exchange in its work with countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Bonn Challenge for the restoration of forests and forest landscapes provides an ideal platform for this purpose."
The ministerial conference in Astana was jointly organised by the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and with substantial work from the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section.
Olga Algayerova, UNECE Executive Secretary, commented: "Scaling up efforts to restore forest landscapes is vital in harnessing the many important benefits that forests bring - to our ecosystems, economies and societies at large, as well as strengthened climate action. Committing to and implementing national pledges under the Bonn Challenge can therefore boost countries’ efforts as they progress towards the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and their national commitments under the Paris Agreement."
The regional roundtable in Kazakhstan is part of the Bonn Challenge global action platform that was initiated by the Federal Environment Ministry in 2011. That year, a number of countries agreed in Bonn to restore 150 million hectares of degraded forests worldwide by 2020 and at least 350 million hectares of degraded forests and deforested areas by 2030.
State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth noted: "The Bonn Challenge is a comprehensive initiative for the restoration of forests worldwide. Since its launch seven years ago, it has generated incredible global momentum. Today, eight Central Asian countries have joined the initiative with the pledge to restore more than 2.5 million hectares of forest. We cannot achieve the climate targets set out under the Paris Agreement without global forest restoration. That is why today was a good day for our planet here in Kazakhstan." Regional meetings on forest landscape restoration under the Bonn Challenge have already been held in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. These meetings are fostering a new form of multilateral cooperation based on the principles of learning from one another and joint implementation.