The story

Restoring land is not just about the landscape, but also the ecosystem and communities that are connected to that land.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) are set of 17 goals that have been adopted by all UN member states since 2015. The SDG’s acknowledge that ending poverty and improving the lives of everyone on earth goes hand-in-hand with protecting the planet’s ecosystems. An actionable way to achieve the SGD’s is through creating healthy and restored landscapes as promoted through the 4 Returns Approach.

Transforming degraded landscapes into places of natural abundance creates food security and zero hunger (SDG2) as local food production becomes more resilience and diversified through practices like regenerative agriculture and agroforestry. Watching a landscape recover and providing beautified, green spaces contributes to people’s good healthy and well-being (SDG 3) as well as creating community networks through restoration initiatives. To restore landscapes, it is important that women and men at all levels have an equal voice and influence in decision-making processes. This offers the opportunity to address and ensure gender equality (SDG 5) around the globe.

Healthy and vegetated landscapes mean improved water cycles and healthy watersheds. That provides people with clean water and sanitation (SGD 6) while offering new business opportunities, decent livelihoods and real economic growth (SDG 8). Sustainable management means that resource flows within a landscape are connected in smart cycles to ensure that there is responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and that resources are used effectively and efficiently. Techniques used in landscape restoration, like regenerative agriculture, draw down carbon from the atmosphere, as well as preventing further emissions. That helps mitigate global emissions to tackle climate change (SGD 13) benefitting life on land (SDG 14) and life below water (SDG 15).

All seventeen SDG’s are reliant upon a restoration of the land and its ecosystems, as they form the ecological foundation of everything that we do.

However, the key to make holistic landscape management successful is through building partnerships (SDG 17). It is vital to combine Landscape Partnerships (bottom-up) of local farmers, business and organisations with global partnerships (top-down) of funders, investors, policy and science. And that is exactly what the 4 Returns framework is designed to do. As a universal framework that is adaptable and connects the dots, we want to turn the 4 Returns into a global movement.

The movement is already underway. From halting desertification in Spain to caring for country in Australia, from promoting agroforestry in India to clearing invasive alien trees in South Africa’s Baviaanskloof; people are already using the 4 Returns Approach to drive positive change across the world and make the Sustainable Development Goals work.

Find out more about 4 Returns.

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