The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the 2022 Restoration Barometer Report yesterday, a collection of documented investments covering 18 countries and $26 billion in funding from both the private and public sectors. As stated in the report, the funds have so far been used to restore 14 million hectares of degraded landscapes, a total equivalent to nearly the size of Greece, and are expected to cover 48 million hectares by 2030. The report also details some other benefits that these conservation efforts have brought to the table, including but not limited to the creation of 12 million new jobs and the sequestration of approximately 145 million tonnes of carbon. 

Endorsed by over 50 governments, the Restoration Barometer tool, as described on their official website, is a tool used to collect and keep track of restoration project data so as to maintain a clear picture of how and where funds are being allocated in the healing of degraded landscapes across the globe. More specifically, the Restoration Barometer tool can be used to record restoration policies, modes of planning, monitoring systems, and funding structures. It can also be used to track the sizes of the locales under restoration, their corresponding climates, levels of biodiversity, and the resulting socio-economic benefits that arise when conservation efforts are implemented. 

Originally developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the support of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, for countries that are working in accordance with international restoration agreements, the tool is now used by both national and sub-national governments, as well as the private sector, to streamline their conservation reporting. Essentially, the Restoration Barometer makes it easier for interested parties to access and assess their work in real time, compare their achievements with other participants, and present their quantified progress at both board and international meetings.

Currently, it is the only tool being used by governments across the globe to keep track of their restorative projects, and to use that data to highlight progress against global commitments such as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, The Bonn Challenge, the Paris Agreement, 1t.org, and the eventual post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework Targets being prepared at the upcoming COP15.  

As Natalia Alekseeva, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration coordinator stated: “The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration can only succeed if we measure progress on the ground. This is where tools like IUCN’s Restoration Barometer are crucial. Countries have promised to restore 1 billion hectares – an area the size of China. But where is that restoration happening? And how successful is it? The Barometer is already and will continue to be essential in answering this question, and we anticipate close collaboration with the UN Decade’s monitoring platform, the Framework for Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring.”

By next year, the Restoration Barometer’s capacities will be upgraded to include restorative efforts in kelp, seagrasses, and shallow reefs. It will also be able to track restoration targets, a feature that is currently being piloted by 34 companies in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and 1t.org. This new feature will officially be online by next year, providing the private sector with the ability to transparently monitor company-wide commitments. 

 “It is encouraging to see progress made by countries in their landscape restoration targets, as outlined in the 2022 Restoration Barometer report.” Said Anita Diederichsen, WWF lead for Forest Landscape Restoration, in response to the 2022 report. 

“The report provides critical insight that will be instrumental in increasing transparency and accountability. And it goes beyond the hectares to show the impact of restoration on people and the climate, a key part of the global restoration agenda.” 

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