Ecosystem degradation is a global phenomenon. It is expected that by 2050, 95% of Earth's land will be degraded. A whopping 24 billion tons of soil have already been eroded by unsustainable agricultural practices. This land degradation is the leading cause of losses of ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling and climate regulation. These functions sustain life on Earth.
It is recognized that this constitutes a crisis. At a UN summit this September, more than 70 world leaders—bar those from the US, China or Brazil—signed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, promising to clamp down on pollution, eliminate the dumping of plastic waste and strengthen environmental agreements worldwide. This is a good step, but as UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed noted at the event, to "rescue the planet's fragile tapestry of life, we need vastly more ambition and action."
Next year will mark the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, aimed at addressing the enormous task of restoring degraded habitats across the planet. Against a backdrop of ecological crisis, this declaration is a chance to revive our life support system—the natural world. The UN has highlighted several important actions to empower a global restoration movement, such as investment in restoration and research, celebrating leadership, shifting behaviors and building up the next generation.