Financial Mechanism and Resources

T2 (Restoration): How to Use GEF Funding

This page aims to provide information regarding the effective restoration of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems for recipient Parties and relevant stakeholders, including how to access funding of the Global Environment Facility in this regard. It is a work in progress and will be updated as necessary.

Ambitious restoration programmes are under way or proposed in many regions, with the potential to deliver significant gains in ecosystem resilience and preservation of carbon stocks. Reported actions included: reforestation; natural regeneration; increasing habitat connectivity; rehabilitation of heavily-degraded sites; promoting urban green infrastructure; undertaking research, identifying and mapping priority areas for restoration; putting in place legal frameworks for restoration and reflecting restoration in other strategies and plans, including national climate adaptation strategies; promoting citizen engagement and payments for ecosystem services schemes; establishment of protected areas, the control of invasive alien species, ex situ conservation and species reintroduction programmes. Reported challenges were: lack of information and data on ecosystem health and quality; lack of monitoring systems.

Financial support of the Global Environment Facility

GEF-financed projects related to ecosystem restoration

  • Integrated programme Ecosystem Restoration
  • Integrated programme Amazon, Congo, and Critical Forest Biomes
  • Land Degradation focal area: Objective Three
  • Biological Diversity focal area: Objective One
  • International Water focal area: Objective One
  • Land Degradation focal area: Objective Two

Global Biodiversity Framework Fund

GBF Fund programming
Target of the GBF Target 2
GEF-8 Trust Fund support and gaps Supported partially but gaps in support for restoration at national level in areas of importance for globally significant biodiversity.
GBF Fund complementarity and scaling up support Identify and begin restoration of national-level priority areas to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity and ensure the persistence of globally significant biodiversity.
Biodiversity, Land Degradation, and International Waters Focal Areas strategy support and funding trends Restoration to generate biodiversity benefits within targeted landscapes and seascapes has been primarily at a small-scale level and not geared towards areas of global importance for biodiversity.
GBF Fund complementary support This target will be addressed by Action Areas One and Two. Identify and begin restoration of national-level priority areas at national level to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services and ensure the persistence of globally significant biodiversity.

Guidance from the Conference of the Parties to GEF

Ecosystem restoration is included in the following guidance to the Global Environment Facility: country-driven activities, including pilot projects, aimed at projects related to ecosystem conservation, restoration of degraded lands and marine environments and overall ecosystem integrity that take into account impacts of climate change. (Decision X/24, annex, paragraph 4.23; decision X/25, paragraphs 21 and 22; and also decision X/33, paragraphs 6 and 16; decision XI/21, paragraph 4; XIII/21, annex II, para. 4)

Guidance to Parties

  • Develop and implement ecosystem restoration action plans and include existing goals and commitments on restoration, including those promoted under other relevant processes, in national biodiversity strategies and action plans, including in reef, coastal and marine ecosystems as well as urban environments, taking into account the ecosystem approach and the integration of ecosystem restoration into broader planning processes, such as spatial and landscape planning; (XI/16, para.2(h); XII/19, para. 4(a); XIII/5, paras. 2, 3, 5; 14/1, para. 14(k); III/11, para. 15; XI/15, para. 2(b); X/31B, para. 26(b); XII/19, para. 4(c); 14/5, para. 4(c))
  • Develop and implement national and regional targets to safeguard and restore mountain biological diversity and related ecosystem services; (X/30, para. 4)
  • Promote large-scale restoration activities, noting also the cumulative benefits of small-scale restoration activities that can collectively contribute to biodiversity conservation, climate-change adaptation and mitigation, and reducing desertification, in the context of sustainable development; (XI/16, para.2(i); XII/19, para. 4(d))

  • Institute mechanisms of redress, at the national and local level including restoration and compensation for damages caused to biodiversity and the poor, with the liabilities to be borne by the responsible party, in accordance with national laws, circumstances and priorities; (XII/5, annex, para. 5)
  • Provide an appropriate mix of regulatory and incentive measures aligned with national biodiversity objectives, including the elimination, phasing out and reform of incentives harmful to biodiversity in order to promote and support the restoration of ecosystems that provide essential services in a way that provides for the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities, does not cause harm to other ecosystems, and consistent with national legislation and international obligations; (XII/19, para. 4(e); XIII/3, para. 32)

  • Identify, analyze and address both underlying and direct causes of ecosystem degradation or fragmentation, degraded ecosystems that have the potential for ecosystem restoration, opportunities to link poverty eradication and ecosystem restoration, and areas that are important for both biodiversity conservation and for climate‑change mitigation and/or adaptation, including carbon sequestration and maintenance of carbon stocks; (XI/16, para.1(b), 1(c) and 1(h); X/31B, para. 14(d); XIII/3, para. 55)
  • Develop and strengthen monitoring of ecosystem degradation and restoration, with a view to selecting priority ecosystems for restoration, based on their conservation and ecosystem service value and impact on other ecosystems or habitats, and determining progress towards restoration targets; (XII/19, para. 4(g); VIII/1, annex, priority actions,,,

  • Rehabilitate and restore degraded inland water ecosystems and their services to enhance the conservation status of inland water biological diversity and the connectivity of inland water ecosystems with terrestrial and marine ecosystems, applying integrated watershed, catchment and river basin management strategies; (IV/4, annex I, para. 9(a); VII/4, annex, goal 1.3; X/28, para. 10(h), (l), 44; 14/5, para. 8)
  • Develop and implement programmes to restore degraded mountain ecosystems and protect natural dynamic processes and maintain biological diversity in order to enhance the capacity of mountain ecosystems to resist and adapt to climate change, or recover from its negative impacts including, inter alia, by establishing corridors and taking appropriate measures to maintain ecological functions of natural corridors, where appropriate, to enable vertical migration of species, ensuring minimal viable population sizes to enable genetic adaptation to changing environmental conditions, and including socio-economic considerations, especially in relation to indigenous and local communities (VII/27, annex, action 1.2.1 and 1.2.11)
  • Rehabilitate or restore the biological diversity of degraded dry and sub-humid lands, with the associated benefits arising thereof, such as soil and water conservation; (V/23, annex I, activity 7(b))
  • Promote the use of farming practices that not only increase productivity, but also arrest degradation as well as reclaim, rehabilitate, restore and enhance biological diversity; (III/11, para. 17)
  • Restore marine and coastal habitats that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change or which contribute to climate‑change mitigation, such as degraded mangrove, seagrass and coral reef ecosystems that provide protection against tidal and storm surges and damage (e.g. mangroves, coral reefs, and sand dunes) and to help prevent run-off and siltation, working closely with civil society and local stakeholders; (X/29, para. 13(j), 71-72; X/33, para. 8(t); VIII/1, annex, priority action,,; XII/19, para. 6)
  • Promote forest restoration, including reforestation and afforestation, in line with the ecosystem approach and sustainable forest management, to minimize the negative impacts of forest fragmentation on forest biodiversity, enhance their capacity to resist to, and recover from and adapt to climate change, and restore ecosystem services, including in degraded secondary forests and in forests established on former forestlands and other landscapes, such as in plantations; (IX/5, para. 1(k), 2(g); V/4, para. 10; VI/22, annex, programme element 1, goal 1, activity (i), goal 2, objective 3-5, goal 3, objective 1, and programme element 3, goal 3, activity (c))

Habitats and species
  • Rehabilitate and restore habitats of threatened species and degraded ecosystems, as appropriate, as a contribution to building ecological networks, ecological corridors and/or buffer zones, ecological integrity of protected areas and recovery of endangered species; (III/9, para. 6; XI/16, para.1(i); XIII/3, para. 17(a); X/31B, para. 26(a); VII/28, annex, goal 1.2 and 1.5)
  • Restore and maintain ecological connectivity, especially for the conservation and sustainable management of migratory species and their habitats, which has been defined as the “unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth”; (Convention on Migratory Species (CBD/SBI/3/6/Add.3, 16 February 2021))
  • Give due attention to both native species and genetic diversity in ecosystem conservation and restoration activities, while avoiding the introduction and preventing the spread of invasive alien species, particularly for the restoration and maintenance of protected areas and the ecosystem services they provide; (X/31B, para. 20; XII/19, para. 4(h); VIII/1, annex, priority action; X/30, para. 14; XII/17, para. 6(f))
  • Restore and maintain global flyways, indigenous wild-capture fisheries stocks in preference to other aquaculture developments, lost or fragmented pollinator habitats to address the drivers of wild and managed pollinators decline in all ecosystems including the most vulnerable biomes and agricultural systems; (Convention on Migratory Species (CBD/SBI/3/6/Add.3, 16 February 2021); 14/6, para. 4; VI/5, annex II, para. 2.3; VII/4, annex, goal 1.4)

Climate Resilience
  • Support the implementation of ecosystem restoration for the mitigation and management of the impact of extreme weather events and for ecosystem‑based adaptation to climate change, taking note of extreme weather events, including the restoration of degraded habitats and landscapes in order to address climate‑change impacts and increase resilience to climate change; (XI/16, para. 4(b); X/31B, para. 14(a); X/33, para. 8(c) (d) (n) (o) (p) (s))
  • Restore the resilience of ecosystems which are essential for sustaining the delivery of their goods and services; (XI/16, para.1(f); VIII/30, para. 1)

Business partnership and technologies
  • Promote tourism to reinvest parts of tourism revenues on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration at the local or community level; (XIII/3, para. 82(b) and (e))
  • Encourages enterprises and business owners to integrate the sustainable use, conservation and restoration of biodiversity into the development and use of resources management plans, voluntary sustainability standards and/or of voluntary certification schemes, tools and guidelines or other voluntary mechanisms; (XIII/3, para. 53 and 85)
  • Encourage development and use of appropriate technology, including technologies of indigenous and local communities with their participation, approval and involvement in accordance with Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, for habitat rehabilitation and restoration, such as environmentally sound technologies to avoid degradation and promote restoration of inland water ecosystems, and Promote best practices and appropriate technologies that can be productively applied to ecosystem restoration; (IV/4, annex I, para. 9(b); VII/4, annex, goal 2.2; VII/28, annex, goal 3.3; IX/18A, para. 7; XI/16, para.1(d))

  • Enhance partnerships and exchange programmes among agencies and restoration practitioners for their mutual benefit; (XI/16, para.2(f))
  • Develop and implement communication programmes highlighting the economic, ecological and social benefits of ecosystem restoration, including awareness-raising among the general public, policymakers and environmental and other managers, not only on the crucial role that ecosystems play in providing ecosystem services, but also on the costs associated with ecosystem degradation, lost incomes, compensation and increased expenses in production; and the cost savings, benefits and potential solutions that restoration can contribute to common political challenges; (XI/16, para.2(g); XIII/3, para. 51; XII/2B, para. 5)
  • Promote, where appropriate, holistic and integrated planning for ecosystem conservation and restoration in indigenous and local community conserved areas, with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, taking into account customary use and management approaches, such as community-based initiatives on ecosystem restoration; (XII/19, para. 4(b); XIII/5, para. 8)
  • Recognize, encourage and facilitate ecosystem restoration initiatives by indigenous and local communities, through effective measures that could include policies, legislation, technical assistance and financial support for community-based initiatives; consider performing a social impact assessment when degraded ecosystems are identified for potential restoration to ensure that projects do not have negative effects for indigenous and local communities that make use of the land, and promote the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities and the use of relevant traditional knowledge and practices in appropriate ecosystem restoration activities; (XI/16, paras.1(e), 1(g); XIII/3, para. 17(c); XIII/5, para. 10; 14/12, para. 2(a); VIII/1, annex, priority action,

UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration

2019: Resolution 73/284. United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030), proclaimed 2021–2030 the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, within existing structures and available resources, with the aim of supporting and scaling up efforts to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide and raise awareness of the importance of successful ecosystem restoration

2020: The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration Strategy
  • PUBLIC AWARENESS: limited awareness across societies globally of the considerable negative effects that ecosystem degradation is having on the well-being and livelihoods of billions of people, the costs of this degradation, and the profound societal benefits that would accrue with major investments in ecosystem restoration
  • POLITICAL WILL: despite the economic benefits that restoration investments would bring societies, the pressure on decision-makers in public and private sector to invest in long-term ecosystem restoration initiatives is relatively small compared with the pressures to invest in other sectors like health care, manufacturing, education and defence.
  • LEGISLATIVE & POLICY ENVIRONMENTS: relative scarcity of legislation, policies, regulations, tax incentives and subsidies that incentivise a shift in investments towards large scale restoration and production systems, value chains and infrastructure that do not degrade ecosystems.
  • TECHNICAL CAPACITY: limited technical knowledge and capacity of national governments, local governments, local NGOs and private companies to design and implement large-scale restoration initiatives.
  • FINANCE: relatively small amount of finance that societies are making available for investing in large scale restoration because of the perceived and/or real risks involved in such investments.
  • SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: limited investment into long-term research, including social as well as natural sciences, that focusses on innovation to improve restoration protocols through time.

Pathway I: building a global movement
  • Facilitating collaboration
  • Developing a values-based restoration imperative
  • Engaging individuals
  • Partnering with youth
  • Working with educators
  • Showcasing flagships and champions
  • Laying post-2030 foundations

Pathway II: generating political support
  • Engaging heads of state and other decision-makers
  • Convening cross-sectoral dialogues
  • Unlocking and reorienting finance: Redirect fossil fuel, agricultural, forestry & fishing subsidies to conservation & restoration of ecosystems

Pathway III: building technical capacity
  • Deploying science and technology in ecosystem restoration
  • Catalysing and accelerating action on the ground

Restoration Challenges
  • Increase biodiversity in Brazil through large-scale restoration and building the world’s largest biodiversity corridor
  • Shift the world’s largest agriculture and farmlands ecosystem to agro-biodiversity conservation (PR China)
  • Implement 100 certified restoration projects across the globe to increase biodiversity gains

  • Facilitating a minimum of 50 million US dollars of private and philanthropic donations to World Restoration Flagships
  • 200 companies to invest USD 10 billion to conserve and restore trees

  • By 2030, at least 20 cities have been nominated as World Restoration Flagships and 100 cities are championing urban restoration
  • Urban spaces restored in over 1000 cities by 2030

  • 350 M ha under restoration by 2030 while directly supporting over 100 million people from climate-vulnerable communities to adapt
  • Help close the global adaptation finance gap and scale global adaptation efforts
  • Animation of the carbon cycle through rewilding as Nature-based Climate Solution

  • Restore and secure land and resource rights to Indigenous Peoples and local communities and recognise them as stewards of ecosystem restoration
  • Engagement and activation of faith communities and faith-led restoration flagships
  • Impact assessment and visualization of #GenerationRestoration movement on terrestrial ecosystems
  • Rallying the international sports community to restore the planet, including the Planet 2024 Conference during Paris Olympics 2024

  • Embed ecosystem restoration into education systems globally by 2030
  • Build a global network of rewilding professionals
  • Interactive Ecosystem Restoration Curriculum for youth and 5000 collaborative partnerships
  • Create a global Nature Positive Universities Alliance
  • Youth to enact change and create local #GenerationRestoration networks across the globe

  • Close the financial gap for #GenerationRestoration

  • Restore and regenerate productive ecosystems to increase local communities food security

  • Humanity to live in harmony with nature - A “Humanature Pathway” for #GenerationRestoration through Ethics, Education and Culture
  • 100 partners develop strategies and implement actions for valuing, accounting for and sustainably utilizing nature
  • Our Spiritual Garden Tradition for #GenerationRestoration

  • Blue Ecosystems Innovation and Restoration Challenge on Oceans
  • Bringing 300,000 km of rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands under restoration by 2030
  • #GenerationRestoration coral reef restoration training hub

  • Decade challenge: Land Degradation Neutrality by 2030

  • Job-train and mentor over 600 youths as restoration practitioners by 2030
  • Restore 10,000 schoolyards and reach 100 Million posts with #GenerationRestoration

Related references

Short-term Action Plan on Ecosystem Restoration, CBD XIII/5, COP 13, 2016
Principles, and guidelines for wetland restoration, Ramsar 2002
International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration, Second Edition and summary, SER
UNDER, Ecosystem Restoration Playbook – a practical guide to healing the planet.
Standards of Practice to Guide Ecosystem Restoration - FAO; SER; IUCN/CEM, 2023
The Framework on Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring -FERM, UNDER
The Restoration Barometer, IUCN
The Economics of Ecosystem Restoration (TEER), multi-partner, led by FAO
UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 Action Plan
Capacity, Knowledge and Learning Action Plan for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration - FAO; SER; IUCN/CEM; UNEP, 2023
The key role of forest and landscape restoration in climate action - FAO
Key gaps and capacity priorities for restoration to support the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030 - FAO; SER; IUCN/CEM; UNEP
Principles for ecosystem restoration to guide the United Nations Decade 2021–2030 - FAO; SER; IUCN/CEM; UNEP
Local financing mechanisms for forest and landscape restoration: A review of local-level investment mechanisms - FAO
Mapping together: A guide to monitoring forest and landscape restoration using Collect Earth mapathons – FAO and WRI
The road to restoration: A guide to identifying priorities and indicators for monitoring forest and landscape restoration – FAO and WRI
Assessment, Understanding and Reporting of Restoration Actions (AURORA) - FAO and WRI
Delivering Tree Genetic Resources in Forest Landscape Restoration: A guide to ensure local and global restoration impact – FAO; Bioversity International; CIAT, 2023

In the EU, 81% of protected habitats, 39% of protected birds and 63% of other protected species are in a poor or bad state.