The Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

The Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week

Year published: 31/05/2017

The Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week entitled “Towards an enhanced regional cooperation to restore Mediterranean landscapes: improving resilience for the benefit of people and environment” was organized from 20 to 24 March 2017 in Agadir, Morocco. The conference, which focused on the restoration of Mediterranean forests and landscapes, was attended by 284 participants from 26 countries. The Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week culminated in a high-level segment on 24 Friday March 2017 with the “Agadir commitment”, which was endorsed by nine countries – Algeria, France, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey – and strongly supported by several international organizations to improve forest and landscape restoration (FLR), land degradation neutrality (LDN) and efforts to conserve biodiversity in the Mediterranean region. The Agadir Commitment proposes establishing a new regional Mediterranean initiative on FLR to support the achievement of the Bonn Challenge and Sustainable Development Goal 15, with the aim of restoring eight million hectares of degraded forest landscape by 2030. It also encourages political and administrative authorities at the national level, as well as stakeholders involved in managing Mediterranean forest ecosystems and other wooded lands, to strengthen their respective FLR efforts in the context of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030 of the United Nations Forum for Forests (UNFF) and in line with the global FLR objectives of the Rio Conventions and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The new commitment aims to reach the following objectives by 2030:

  • assess ongoing national efforts on FLR to determine a voluntary regional target to be reached by 2030;
  • reinforce regional cooperation on FLR and LDN;
  • develop with interested parties a consensual and diversified strategy for financing FLR efforts, and reinforce national capacities; and
  • establish a voluntary monitoring and notification system to assess the FLR and LDN efforts of the countries in the Mediterranean context.

The Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week began with a welcome from the High Commissioner of the hosting institution, the High Commission for Waters and Forests and the Fight against Desertification of Morocco (HCEFLCD), from the chair of the Committee Silva Mediterranea, and from local authorities. The opening session set the global and regional background on FLR with presentations from the perspective of ecosystem conservation and restoration from COP 13 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), of the Bonn Challenge, of the scientific background on FLR, and of the Mediterranean context. The afternoon session presented the context on FLR with the different global and regional ongoing initiatives. FLR’s contribution to the global targets of the three Rio conventions was clarified. The regionalization process of FLR in the context of the Bonn Challenge and its link with the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration was then presented. At the regional level, the strategic importance given to FLR was recalled and recent data from the Global Drylands Assessment showed the potential for restoration in the Mediterranean was around 80 million hectares of degraded lands.

The sessions from 21 to 23 March identified the steps necessary to implement a regional initiative on FLR at the Mediterranean level. The first step (addressed in session 4) is to check the current status of FLR in the region, to establish a baseline on FLR with respect to what future progress on FLR will be assessed. Session 4 presented successful stories on FLR and experiences to be shared regionally, and was complemented by session 6, which focused on local governance in FLR. The second step is to identify opportunities for ecological restoration, improved biodiversity conservation and improved livelihoods in the Mediterranean region, to know where FLR actions are most needed and would be most effective in restoring the services lost by land degradation. This second step was addressed by session 5. The third step is to monitor FLR and evaluate impacts to ensure that FLR actions have reached their goal. Different tools and approaches for FLR monitoring and assessment were presented in session 8. The last step is to mobilize financing tools to implement FLR, which was addressed by session 9 where lessons learned and good practices were shared on FLR financing innovations from the Mediterranean region and beyond, and where risks and barriers limiting FLR financing were identified, risk mitigation solutions were proposed, and emerging financing opportunities were presented for FLR from climate and LDN finance. All presentations made during the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week are accessible on the dedicated web site. A synthesis of the discussions and results will be published in the proceedings of the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week as a special issue of the journal Forêt Méditerranéenne.

Participants also celebrated the International Day of Forests during the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week on 21 March 2017. On this occasion, a report was made on the operation launched by the HCEFLCD during the UNFCCC COP 22 to plant more than a million trees in one day. The three most successful Moroccan regions were rewarded. At the same time as the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week, the Secretariat of the CBD organized a training workshop on restoring forests and other ecosystems to support achieving the Aichi biodiversity targets. The CBD training sessions and the 5th Mediterranean Forest Week sessions were largely complementary and consistent. Several side events and meetings were organized back-to-back at the Fifth Mediterranean Forest Week, including the MedForum 2017 of the Mediterranean Model Forest Network, and side events on the index of biodiversity potential, on the Collaborative Partnership on Mediterranean Forests, on forest health, on the MedForVal project, on the BeWater project, on the Great Green Wall and on communication. 

During the gala dinner, Lebanon announced its willingness to host the Sixth Mediterranean Forest Week in 2019. Mark it on your calendar!

Nicolas Picard

     (FAO – Silva Mediterranea)