Montreal: United Nations has recognized India’s “Namami Gange” initiative to rejuvenate sacred River Ganga among the “10 ground breaking” efforts from around the globe for their role in restoring the natural world.
The recognition was given at a function in the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Montreal, Canada on 14th December 2022, the World Restoration Day.
They were selected under the banner of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global movement coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It is designed to prevent and reverse the degradation of natural spaces across the planet. The recognized initiatives, including Namami Gange, will now be eligible to receive UN support, funding or technical expertise.
Namami Gange was selected from over 150 such initiatives from 70 countries across the globe.
The project Namami Gange Programme was started in 2014 and committed over 5 billion dollars to ensure the rejuvenating, protecting and conserving the Ganges and its tributaries, reforesting parts of the Ganges basin and promoting sustainable farming.
It also aims to revive key wildlife species, including river dolphins, softshell turtles, otters, and the hilsa shad fish.
The initiative has the involvement of 230 organisations, with 1,500 km of river restored to date. Additionally, there has been 30,000 hectares of afforestation so far, with a 2030 goal of 134,000 hectares.
In revealing the World Restoration Flagships, the UN Decade seeks to honour the best examples of large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration, embodying the 10 Restoration principal of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Together, the 10 flagships aim to restore more than 68 million hectares − an area bigger than Myanmar, France or Somalia − and create nearly 15 million jobs.
“Transforming our relationship with nature is the key to reversing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution and waste” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
These 10 inaugural World Restoration Flagship show that with political will, science and collaboration across borders, we can achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and forge a more sustainable future not only for the planet but also for those of us who call it home” she said.
Qu Dongyu, Director General of the FAO, said “FAO, together with UNEP, as co-lead of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is pleased to award the 10 most ambitious, visionary and promising ecosystem restoration initiatives as 2022 World Restoration Flagships. Inspired by these flagships, we can learn to restore our ecosystems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.”
Other inaugural World Restoration Flagships
The other inaugural World Restoration Flagships include the Trinational Atlantic Forest Pact, which aims to protect and restore the forest in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and the Abu Dhabi Marine Restoration project which is safeguarding the world’s second-largest dugong population in Abu Dhabi.
The Great Green Wall for Restoration and Peace initiative to restore savannas, grasslands and farmlands across Africa, the Multi-Country Mountain Initiative based in Serbia, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Rwanda, and the Small Island Developing States Restoration Drive focused on three small island developing states – Vanuatu, St Lucia and Comoros were also recognised.
The Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative in Kazakhstan to restore the steppe, semi-desert and desert ecosystems, the Central American Dry Corridor, and Shan-Shui Initiative in China were the other projects on the list.
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration runs until 2030, which is also the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Without halting and reversing the degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, 1 million species are at risk of extinction.
Scientists say that restoring only 15 per cent of ecosystems in priority areas and thereby improving habitats can cut extinctions by 60 per cent. The UN Decade addresses all three Rio Conventions and encourages its partners in integrating climate forecasts and a different climate future in their restoration efforts.
Leaders and negotiators from 196 countries, including India are here in Canada for a two-week conference expected to adopt a landmark agreement to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030.
During the U.N. Biodiversity Conference (COP15) being held from December 7 to 19, about 20,000 delegates from across the world will negotiate an eight-year plan to preserve and restore biodiversity.