Over three billion people around the world suffer from the consequences of land degradation: less water, lower crop yields, declining rural incomes and erosion. Governments have committed to restore millions of hectares of farms, forests and pasture through the global Bonn Challenge and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Their objective is to bring prosperity to struggling rural economies and kickstart a vibrant “restoration economy” of thriving businesses and community groups.

To reach their ambitious national goals, governments are designing policies that help people to restore land and keep it healthy, but these programs sometimes run into roadblocks when officials are planning, financing and implementing them. Government leaders need technical assistance to better design new policies and adapt existing ones to maximize their impact and minimize costs.

Building the Right Policies

To close that gap, WRI designed the Landscape Policy Accelerator, a collaborative network that helps government leaders solve these key problems and push each other toward success. By building south-south networks of mutual support and promoting smart policies, the Policy Accelerator hopes to help governments boost restoration implementation on the ground and continue to lead in the global movement to restore landscapes.

The program walks governments leaders through a seven-step process of effective policy reform to:

  1. Identify the overarching policy problem.
  2. Learn from the experiences of other countries in designing and implementing programs.
  3. Invite government officials and mentors to co-create solutions
  4. Identify potential solutions in collaboration with participants from peer countries.
  5. Discuss the new vision with other ministries and incorporate feedback.
  6. Prioritize and implement.
  7. Measure results and adaptively manage.

Government leaders from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico are joining the 2021 program, a continuation of work begun in 2020, which also included Peru. These countries are all members of Initiative 20x20, a coalition of 18 Latin American and Caribbean nations that aim to protect and begin restoring 50 million hectares of land. Key technical experts from WRI, alongside other partners, provided training. In 2022, the program will expand to include cohorts across Africa and India.

Learn more about the 2021 curriculum here.

Panel of speakers in front of Healthy Landscapes for Prosperity Presentation

The Cohort

Brazil is exploring how to use public incentive programs to help farmers access private finance through loans from development banks.

El Salvador is designing three new policy instruments to mitigate climate risk and help communities adapt to the effects of climate change:

  • Reorient its existing environmental compensation mechanism to invest in areas where restoration protects key water sources.
  • Enable local banks to provide loans for people growing food and commodities while restoring land.
  • Develop a payment for ecosystem services (PES)-like program to prevent floods and landslides.

Chile aims to revise technical aspects of its incentive programs for native forest restoration to increase demand and, therefore, the number of hectares under restoration.

  • These efforts support the recently approved National Landscape Restoration Plan, which contributes to the country’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Climate Accord.

Costa Rica is assessing how to subsidize the creation of sustainable value chains with public incentives to ensure the permanence of restoration progress.

Guatemala wants to certify more projects at an increased pace so that more people and more land can benefit from its incentive programs. To do that, it will:

  • Develop a cost-effective certification system to reduce the number of in-field visits.
  • Design a system to track the performance and impacts of the incentive program.
  • Increase the internal capacity of the government to assess more projects.

Mexico wants to leverage public and private funds to accelerate forest protection and restoration by boosting public-private partnerships for its existing payment for ecosystem services program.

Watch How Mexico Incentivizes Farmers to Revitalize Water Supply

Peru launched its National Restoration Strategy (ProRest) and is looking at developing incentives to fulfill its national commitments and to leverage private sector investment.