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Abstract

By declaring the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the UN has recognized that there are only 10 years left to restore the world's degraded land. Countries are striving to fight climate change by 2030 through their Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But in many cases, their climate and development agenda are disconnected, even though sustainability and development go hand in hand – especially for rural communities.

The divide is particularly severe when it comes to restoring degraded land. We know that restoring land can boost crop yields and income for farmers, improve access to water, enable people to stay on their ancestral land, and help communities adapt to the changing climate. But with so many competing uses of the land, it is difficult to focus restoration efforts where they can help communities most effectively overcome climate change and rural poverty, while also halting deforestation and protecting vital biodiversity.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WRI have created a new guide, The Road to Restoration, to help governments, businesses, communities and anyone actively restoring land identify priorities and set up goals grounded in reality. Using real data, they can create systems that support and keep track of their efforts. By measuring progress, countries like El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Malawi have followed the road to restoration to craft customized and implementable strategies to fight climate change and rural poverty.

The tool guides users through basic questions about the process to restore land: Why is restoration needed in the first place? What will the restored land be used for? What are the barriers that could prevent sustainability (including drivers of degradation and enabling factors)? What are the constraints and priorities for monitoring restoration?

These questions help people establish goals, identify quantitative data, and track progress.