CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA—Concurrent with this week’s call to action on climate at the United Nations and around the world, today the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and partners released the second edition of the International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration. Introduced in 2016, the Standards establish norms to guide the development and implementation of ecological restoration projects worldwide. The updated Standards were announced at SER’s 8th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, where nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world convened to discuss the issues, challenges, and opportunities surrounding restoration.

By providing a clear, coherent, and versatile approach, the Standards help ensure restoration can achieve a wide range of benefits, including mitigating climate change, recovering biodiversity and ecological integrity, and enhancing human wellbeing. They also assist countries in meeting international biodiversity and sustainability targets, such as those set forth in the United Nations 2030 Sustainability Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Bonn Challenge, including the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100).

“Recognizing that ecosystem restoration is one of the most cost-effective solutions for achieving sustainable development, the UNCCD welcomes the publication of the International Restoration Standards developed by the Society for Ecological Restoration. We see significant potential for these Standards to assist countries in achieving their Land Degradation Neutrality targets under Sustainable Development Goal 15 “Life on Land”. As we prepare to launch the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), there will be a need for a scientific and principled approach to guide all stakeholders in taking effective restorative actions and ensuring sustained impact for people and nature,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

The Standards were developed in partnership with the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia Chapter, The Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC), and more than a dozen other organizations around the world. It is a living document to be refined and expanded as needed. George Gann, SER International Policy Lead, IRC Executive Director, and lead author of the Standards points out that, “Achieving global restoration goals will require increasing enthusiasm and funding, as well as a common understanding of how to design and implement successful restoration projects that proactively and collaboratively engage local communities. SER’s International Standards provide essential tools and can help ensure that time and resources invested in restoration projects are well spent.”

“In light of the UN’s declaration of ‘2021-2030 as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration,’ as Chair of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management, I can think of no more important contribution to launch this initiative than the SER Ecological Restoration Standards. They provide a basis for assessing the efficacy of ecosystem restoration practices across the globe; a common language for describing different approaches to restoration; and a basis for government regulation of ecosystem restorations. These are also essential to make meaningful progress in restoring the planet’s degraded ecosystem services capacity,” said Angela Andrade, Chair, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management.

Standards author Tein McDonald states that restoration is important for additional reasons:   “involvement in restoration and other restorative activities not only helps us heal nature but also heal ourselves as we find our place in our own neighbourhood, country and globe. The Standards reinforce the principles and aspirations of ecological restoration in a changing world.”

Both English and Chinese versions of the Standards can be accessed at Additional translations will follow.