“It’s time for us to embark on a journey of healing and reclaim the lost glory of our planet”

By Hajrah Waqas, Climate Champions' Resilience Youth Fellow | December 2, 2023

As we stand at the crossroads of the climate crisis, the need to restore our natural landscape has become ever more important. The Earth and its flourishing ecosystems now bear the brunt of human activity. It’s time for us to embark on a journey of healing and reclaim the lost glory of our planet. As Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion from the COP28 Presidency remarked on International Day for Biological Diversity, “It is time to move from agreement to action because when we lose nature, we lose ourselves.”

In 2021, the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly defines Nature as essential for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, providing one third of the mitigation solution and playing a central role in adaptation and resilience building. Whereas, the Race to Resilience campaign launched in 2021, stands as a formidable ally, emphasizing the urgency of adopting Nature-based Solutions. The campaign serves as a rallying point for Non-State Actors, INGOs, and communities worldwide to collaborate on projects that not only mitigate climate change but also prioritise the agenda of nature restoration. The campaign acknowledges that nature restoration is a cornerstone of sustainable and adaptive societies in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

“As part of their plans for reaching net-zero emissions, businesses, investors, cities and regions must transform their operations and supply chains to support rather than degrade our natural ecosystems by 2030. They should start by ending deforestation and peatland loss by 2025. This will require them to accurately account for emissions related to their land management, land-use change, and other work”, remarked Al-Mubarak in an article for The Economist. Therefore, in the race to accelerate the agenda of nature restoration and nature-positive action, Race to Resilience partners are leading on Forest and Land Restoration.

The Race to Resilience Partners’ Initiative 20×20 targets the restoration of 50 million hectares of degraded land in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2030. Simultaneously, the Global Evergreening Alliance is committed to restoring over 100 million hectares of degraded land in Africa and Asia by the same deadline. Following the successful launch of Restore Africa in 2022, the Global Evergreening Alliance is expanding its reach into West Africa as part of the next phase, demonstrating a monumental year with the member base nearing 100 organizations and a commitment to accelerating nature-based solutions on the road to COP28.

Though we have made significant strides, our Race is far from over. Currently, 25 percent of the Earth’s land surface is already degraded, and desertification is expanding, potentially impacting 3.5 billion people globally. Rural communities and small-scale farmers are hit the hardest and, as climate change intensifies, 12 million hectares of productive land are lost annually, directly impacting the livelihoods of 1 billion people.

The path we chart into 2024 is critical; while there has been an increase in finance, the pace must accelerate. The focus will be on ramping up adaptation financing, harnessing the transformative potential of NbS, and fostering collective, inclusive action. In doing so we can supercharge our efforts, not just for the benefit of some, but for those most vulnerable, safeguarding the futures of communities globally against an increasingly changing climate. Therefore, COP28 serves as an opportunity to further accelerate this action. The call to action is clear: we look at governments, companies, financial institutions, philanthropies, and cities to intensify their actions.

Race to Resilience second Progress Report

Sharm El Sheikh Adaptation Agenda First Implementation Report