Land Restoration: Caribbean and Latin American Countries Launch Initiative 20×20

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Seven Latin American and Caribbean countries have launched Initiative 20×20, an effort to begin restoring 20 million hectares of degraded land—an area larger than Uruguay—by 2020. The initiative has secured $365 million in funds to support reforestation (natural and assisted) and efforts to recover land functionality (soil conservation and recovery; carbon storage; water retention and stable hydrologies; biodiversity conservation and recovery) through agroforestry, silvopastures, and other sustainable land use schemes.

Initiative 20×20 is a country-led effort to restore 20 million hectares of land in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. The initiative—launched formally at COP 20 in Lima—will support the Bonn Challenge, a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares of land around the world by 2020.

WRI, in association with CATIE, CIAT, and IUCN, supports Initiative 20×20 through our Global Restoration Initiative. WRI facilitates the dialogue between governments, civil society, and the private sector to build an effective coalition that can achieve the initiative’s goals.

In recent years, more than 40% (650 million hectares) of forests in Latin America and the Caribbean have been completely deforested or degraded. Latin America and the Caribbean contain some of the most ecologically valuable forest ecosystems in the world, but in recent history 20% of forest lands (nearly 350 mha) have been completely deforested and a further 20% (300 mha) badly degraded. The drivers of this change include large-scale and small-scale agricultural, infrastructure, mining. As a result, the bulk of the emissions in the Latin American region are generated not from energy but from land use, land use change, and forestry. Of the 4.2 GT emitted by Latin American and Caribbean countries in 2012, about 49 percent were from land use and loss of forests.

3 Activities of Initiative 20×20:

  1. Inspire national commitments to restoration by engaging in a robust dialogue with Ministers of Agriculture and Environment in the region;
  2. Make the economic case by assessing the societal benefits from restoration and avoided deforestation; and
  3. Establish a financial mechanism that allows private sector impact investors to fund restoration projects

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Key Facts:

49% of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012 resulted from forestry, land-use change, and agriculture.

Latin America and the Caribbean account for about half of the world’s remaining tropical and southern temperate forests.

Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean expanded onto an additional 36 million hectares since 2000. This expansion came at the expense of forests and natural landscapes.

Land-use activities like agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry contribute 5 percent of the region’s GDP and about 14 percent of its employment.

Land restoration can increase food productivity and security for an estimated 49 million under-nourished in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information, see http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/initiative-20×20

Also see http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/12/reducing-latin-america%E2%80%99s-carbon-footprint-means-restoring-life-degraded-lands, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/world/americas/investors-recruited-to-restore-farmland-.html?_r=0 and http://e360.yale.edu/digest/latin_american_and_caribbean_nations_pledge_major_forest_restorations/4315/

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