With experts from all continents, the UN Decade Advisory Board is the main external body of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration’s governance structure. The Advisory Board offers relevant perspectives and schools of thought in response to the challenges and barriers for implementing the UN Decade.
For the first time since its existence, nearing the end of the first two-year term, board members were invited to meet at the workshop celebrated along the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, UNFCCC COP27. This meeting took place at Habiba Community, a restoration site in Nuweiba, 1.5 hours bus drive from Sharm El-Sheikh, bringing together 17 board members, UN Decade Task Forces representatives, UN Decade Secretariat members and friends.
The venue in the desert was chosen on purpose. Habiba Community is part of the Ecosystem Restoration Camps, a network of over 50 camps around the globe and Supporting Partner to the UN Decade, practicing and promoting regenerative agriculture on the Sinai Peninsula. Camp Habiba Community combines education and work in permaculture and restoration of the natural system in the degraded desertic ecosystem, hereby working with the local farmers and the Bedouin communities strengthening regenerative agricultural techniques in the region. It aims to help local communities introduce regenerative agricultural techniques, stop erosion and further desertification, and rebuild local livelihoods based on healthy ecosystems.
But the ambition does not stop there. On the contrary, activities have started aiming at restoring much of the pensinsula through the re-establishment of water cycles which historically used to be ‘green’. The board had the chance to discuss with its member John D. Liu (Ecosystems Ambassador, Commonland Foundation) and visit one of the experiment sites. During COP27, the license was granted by the Egyptian government to start an on-site implementation at a dried-out lake site. The board discussed upscaling the implementation of EcoOasises and creation of Ecosystem Restoration Camps, for example, through the Youth Task Force or in support of refugee camps. The board invites partners to collaborate.
The Advisory Board Meeting leads to the development of a roadmap based on the discussions, ideas, and feedback for the years 2023/2024 which will be the second term of the board. Among others, it will make more use of its convening power for UN Decade, beyond its already significant achievements in advocating for and amplifying the UN Decade during the first term. Board members will lead on thematic challenges of the UN Decade under the Action Plan, such as rallying and supporting faith communities and indigenous Peoples for #GenerationRestoration.
UNFCCC COP27 was chosen as timing the workshop not only to save on flight emissions but also as a platform to kickstart some of the thematic challenges in the making. Many led and participated in three events at GLF Climate 2022 connecting scientists, activists, indigenous leaders, financiers, youth, and policymakers through hybrid events. The events marked the first step of several restoration challenges for the UN Decade under the Action Plan:
- Action Plan challenge on Communities: The stories we live by: The importance of ecosystem restoration through the lens of values, culture, and spirituality co-led by Gopal Patel (Advisory Board member, Center for Earth Ethics). Securing land and territorial rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities under the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration co-led by the International Land Coalition and with the Advisory board members Lucy Mulenkei, Martin von Hildebrand, and Darío Mejía Montalvo.
- Action Plan challenge on Finance: Unlocking solutions to finance ecosystem restoration led by the Finance Task Force.
The meeting at Habiba Community has been a fruitful experience for all the participants. The Advisory Board witnessed with its own eyes the achievements of regenerative farmers work in degraded desertic landscapes, and they engaged in fascinating discussions with the farmers and the local Bedouin community. The board decided to use the opportunity of its meeting to shed light on such success stories across all ecosystems. According to Thomas Crowther, Advisory Board member, Nature is not only a tool in the fight against climate change. It is one of the reasons to address it in the first place because it is the essence of life on Earth. After this gathering in the desert, stay tuned for which ecosystem will be looked at in 2023!
Youth Position Paper for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Advisory Board Meeting – Egypt November 2022.
BBC World “People Fixing the World” episode.
Hope in a Changing Climate – by John D. Liu (2009)
Global Earth Repair Summit with John D. Liu and Ties van der Hoeven – The Weather Makers
The Holy Grail of Restoration
Wicked games: using games to resolve environmental conflicts
Learn more about Maged El Said, Habiba Community founder:
Maged El Said started his career in the travel industry in Cairo in the ‘80s. In 1994, he relocated his family to start a small family-run enterprise by the sea called Habiba Beach Lodge. Eventually, he adapted the vision, having the greater goal of food security and a more responsible approach to the environment and tourism. Maged and his family, through Habiba Community, have been committed for the past 28 years to guaranteeing food security and enhancing the resilience of the indigenous communities of Sinai to better face the impacts of climate change. Maged graduated in 1979 in Foreign Languages from Ain Shams University in Cairo. During his university career, in 1977, he participated in a three-month joint program with the University of Perugia, Italy, thanks to which he studied and gained a certification in Italian Language. When he expanded his enterprise to the agriculture sector in 2007, he had not any knowledge related to this field, but he started to learn by himself and thanks to many volunteers, enthusiasts, experts and researchers that went and visited “The farm in the Sinai Desert”. During these years, on behalf of Habiba Community, he participated to organic agriculture, permaculture and regenerative agriculture courses and workshops with the interest and passion of always improving his farm conditions and productivity following an environmentally responsible way.
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This blog post was originally published on the UN Decade website.