FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

Ecosystems Restoration: Recreate, Re-imagine, Restore!

Photo: ©FAO


Oleg Kobiakov, Director of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Office in Moscow, took part on 7 October in the 4th International Conference «Sustainable Tourism: Global Challenges and Russian Perspective» in Sochi (Rosa Khutor Resort). 

As moderator of the FAO-UNEP session “UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: Recreate, Re-imagine, Restore!”, Oleg Kobiakov, in particular, noted the following: “António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, appointed FAO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) coordinators of the Decade.” 

“In just over a week FAO will turn 76, and UNEP will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. – We work hand in hand throughout this long journey on restoring, preserving and conserving the planet’s ecosystems and all of its main environments, including water, land, air and living organisms that inhabit them.” 

“FAO’s key objective is elimination of hunger. Today the number of people affected by hunger is over 811 million, and despite the technological advances, food production is based on natural environments and resources, that is why FAO is actively involved in ecosystems restoration.

Viacheslav Fetisov, First Deputy Chair of State Duma Committee and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador in Russia, emphasized the importance of such events and specially mentioned the “preservation of biodiversity and the environment as key to successful development of business.” He highlighted the principal subject of the discussion: “The topic of our session today is the initiative by António Guterres that he put forward on 5 June, the World Environment Day, namely – the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.” 

“The initiative will allow us to align positions both in the countries at all levels and on the platform of public organizations, as well as to discuss vital and relevant issues and to start resolving them,” said Fetisov.

Tim Kristoffersen, Head of the Nature and Climate Office (UNEP), in his online address stressed the importance of partnership for a successful implementation of the Decade. “The resolution of the UN General Assembly (A/RES/73/284) of 1 March 2019 stated as its primary aim halting the degradation of ecosystems worldwide,” recalled the expert.

Tim Kristoffersen also mentioned major problems in developing projects on ecosystem restoration, such as insufficient investment in the development of ecosystems restoration projects and lack of political will on the part of leaders in some regions. 

Natalia Alekseyeva, Workstream Leader at the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment, FAO Secretariat, outlined the current situation, noting that “according to FAOSTAT 2016, about 33% of all land is at the stage of degradation.” Ms. Alekseyeva talked about stabilizing landscapes and seascapes as part of the ecosystem restoration initiative, highlighting four areas affecting the implementation of 2030 Agenda: preservation of biodiversity, climate change, extraction of resources from landscapes and seascapes, and economic output.

Natalia Alekseyeva presented FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-2031, identifying four betters based on the principle “to leave no one behind”: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

In conclusion, she spoke of FAO’s initiative aimed at preserving and restoring ecosystems – Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) that combine agricultural biodiversity, sustainable ecosystems and rich cultural heritage. The expert explained that “GIAHS sites provide a unique opportunity to familiarize oneself with traditional agricultural practices of indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as to support farmers, rural communities and a sustainable development initiative.”

Dmitry Gorshkov, Director of World Wildlife Fund Russia, emphasized the important role of biodiversity preservation, noting its immediate impact on achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “In late September last year the UN hosted the first summit on biodiversity, and there was a cross-cutting idea in many statements, namely: it is impossible to achieve all SDGs without progress on biodiversity preservation goal,” added Dmitry Gorshkov.

“Today the planet’s ecosystems are subjected to significant human impact. Evidence suggests that it affects 87% of marine and 77% of land ecosystems. Against this backdrop the Russian Federation and Canada are the two countries where wilderness still exists, in the best sense of the word. We still have intact ecosystems,” the expert clarified.

Highlighting key workstreams on biodiversity in Russia, Dmitry Gorshkov stressed the need to “preserve what we have rather than restore ecosystems.” “Restoring is much more difficult than preserving,” added Gorshkov. Speaking of Russian initiatives on ecosystem preservation, he accentuated the “water workstream”, underlining the importance of sustainable water management.

Andrei Grachev, Vice-President for Federal and Regional Programs, MMC Norilsk Nickel, shared the results of implementing the company’s strategies aimed at supporting ecosystems and restoring biodiversity of some regions. He stressed the importance of scientific approach for successful achievement of the SDG on biodiversity restoration. Summing up, he called for cooperation and mutual support between private sector and intergovernmental organizations.

Natalia Ryazanova, Head of GeoEcology and Sustainable Wildlife Management Laboratory at the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Studies, MGIMO University, in her statement highlighted the key SDGs discussed during the session: SDG13 (climate action), SDG14 (life below water) and SDG15 (life on land) and talked about the work on these goals in Russia.

Boris Erg, Director of Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), shared the outcomes of the recent IUCN Congress in Marseille and listed the main aspects of relevant issues associated with biodiversity: undertaking initiatives on biodiversity preservation and restoration, climate change and security. Boris Erg called for strengthening international cooperation to solve problems of environment preservation, specially stressing the importance of integrated, holistic and timely approaches, as well as the role of the Russian Federation in joint efforts to preserve ecosystems internationally and at the country level.

Yan Tsygankov, Director of the Center for Clean Production and Sustainable Development,presented the principal conclusions of the report “Global Environment Outlook – 6” (GEO-6). “The key sections of the report were dedicated to such subjects as air, biodiversity, oceans, land and fresh water.” 

The expert talked about major factors of environmental changes, accentuating population growth, demographic trends and ageing, urbanization, economic and technological development and climate change.

Vladimir Moshkalo, Head of the UN Environment Programme Russia Office, illuminated the Russian initiatives under the Programme on preservation and restoration of ecosystems and called on all the participants and viewers of the event to “join the efforts to preserve our natural environment.” 

The recorded discussion session is available here.