VIENNA (IDN) – Iran's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Vienna has been appointed by consensus as the chairman of the Group of 77 (G-77), for a one-year term.

Reza Najafi, the country's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Permanent Representative to the UN in the Austrian capital, took over charge from Namibia's Permanent Representative Simon Madjumo Maruta at a ceremony on February 24, 2017.

Ambassador Najafi is the second representative of Iran to head the G-77 in Vienna since 2011. In his remarks he stressed the importance of G-77 within and outside the UN as the largest coalition of meanwhile 134 developing nations in the United Nations.

- Photo: 2021

Avenues of Action: UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

Viewpoint by Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

GENEVA (IDN) — The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, 2021-2030 began on June 5. An ecosystem is an interaction between people, plants, animals and their surroundings. The UN Environment Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are the lead UN agencies for this Decade. However, the Decade aims to become a broad-based global movement in which many can play a role.

There are many measures which need to be taken within the UN system as well as by national governments and local authorities. However, in this great effort for ecologically-wise use of land, there is a role for many persons as a vast range of actions are needed. Individual actions can have a wider impact by bringing together people in new alliances for action.

There is a need to look at situations locally. The misuse and destruction of forest and land resources take different forms depending on the climatic and social conditions of an area. Official government statistics need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially concerning forest cover. Higher figures than reality allow governments to justify higher forest cutting rates.

Much of Africa’s «forest land» is actually a thin scattering of scrub with only a small percentage of the ground actually under tree canopy. Much of what is currently classified as forest land in the world needs reforesting which can be done only by planting.

Each ecosystem must be studied at the local level and remedial action analysed both at the local level and at the level of the broader region, what is increasingly called a «bioregion». A bioregion has been defined as a geographic area whose rough boundaries are set by nature, distinguishable from other areas by characteristics of flora, climate, landforms and human settlements

Today, many ecosystems are under stress and facing degradation. The tree and plant cover of the world have been taking increasing losses in almost all habitats of the world. Livestock grazing, lumbering, firewood gathering, roads, cities—all increase pressure. Wetlands are filled by soil carried by water.

In some farmlands, there can be excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides. The resource base of most ecosystems is declining. The people who are unwittingly causing the fatal deterioration of their lands must be involved in the repair efforts. They must be given the means and incentives to change their land use patterns.

Yet there are signs of hope and action of which the creation of the Decade for Ecosystem Restoration is the symbol. There can be a surge of human creativity and renaissance. For a project to be successful, the local people must have a large hand in the planning using decentralized, non-authoritarian decision-making processes. Local people must want the project to succeed and be carried out for the long term as there is often a fairly long gestation period before benefits fully accrue.

There is already a good bit of research that has been done on ecosystems, and there are many non-governmental organizations working on ecosystem restoration. The framework of the UN Decade should provide for increased cooperation and highlighting areas that have been neglected in the past. The Decade provides new avenues for action. [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 June 2021]

Photo: Before and after image of the effects of three years of ecosystem restoration in Tanzania. Using bund-digging, the water level in the soil has been restored to regrow trees and grass (Just Diggit: 2018-2021) Source: UN Environment Programme.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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