UNEP official: Every dollar invested in reviving degraded lands brings up to $30 in returns

UNEP official: Every dollar invested in reviving degraded lands brings up to $30 in returns
03 / 05 / 2024
By Marwa Nassar - -

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said every dollar invested in reviving degraded lands brings up to $ 30in economic returns.

During the launch of the World Environment Day 2024 campaign and Saudi Environment Week, she said “We need to restore at least 1.5 billion hectares by 2030 if we are going to safeguard the web of life on Earth and avoid real consequences for ourselves, like food shortages.”

“I hope this World Environment Day can be a turning point in our race to restoration,” she added.

Now is the time to move from committing to action to acting on commitments to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation, she asserted.

“Friends, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is only the second country in West Asia to host World Environment Day,” she said.

This nation has shown leadership in addressing drought, desertification and land degradation internationally, she highlighted.

The Kingdom is the driving force behind the Group of 20 Global Land Initiative, an ambitious effort to reduce degraded land by 50 per cent by 2040.

The country is leading the Middle East Green Initiative, a $ 2.5 billion push to counter climate change by bolstering regional cooperation and financing green infrastructure.

And at home, the Kingdom is pioneering initiatives using nature-based solutions to reduce emissions, and restore and preserve its land and sea.

“We at UNEP welcome our strong partnership with the Kingdom, and in particular our collaboration with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture as it implements the country’s National Environment Strategy,” she said.

This comprehensive framework is a key part of the Saudi Transformation Program and the country’s Vision 2030.World Environment Day comes ahead of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, which will be hosted here in Riyadh, in December.

This is expected to be the largest-ever UN conference on land degradation and drought. This is an important opportunity to galvanize global efforts to address these critical issues because time is running short.

“We are the first generation to now fully understand the immense threats to the land – and might be the last one with a chance to reverse the course of destruction,” she said.

“Our priority now must be on restoring ecosystems – on replanting our forests, on rewetting our marshes, on reviving our soils,” she added.

Restoration can create havens for wildlife, helping to foil the extinction crisis gripping the planet.

It can counter climate change by reviving the ability of forests and rivers to store planet-warming carbon.

It can create buffers around communities, protecting them from climate-related disasters, which are becoming more common by the year.

“But for restoration to be successful, we need everyone onboard. Governments, businesses, scientists, faith-based organizations, civil society and individuals all must join forces,” she concluded.

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