The 11th SER Europe conference was held in Reykjavík, Iceland from 9-13 September. The main theme of the conference was Restoration in the Era of Climate Change. UNU-LRT had very good presence at the conference as all 17 fellows in the UNU-LRT six-month training programme this year took part in the conference, as well as 17 former UNU-LRT fellows. All were sponsored by UNU-LRT to attend the conference.
The UNU-LRT former fellows travelled specially to Iceland to attend the conference, except one who is studying for a master’s degree at the Agricultural University of Iceland. All former fellows either gave a talk or presented a poster at the conference on issues they are working on in their home countries. One of the former fellows, Ms Beatrice Dossah from Ghana, gave a keynote speech on means to raise awareness on environmental issues through the arts. UNU-LRT Director, Dr Hafdis Hanna Aegisdottir, also gave a keynote speech on the commonalities of restoring ecological function and biodiversity to degraded landscapes across different biomes for improved livelihoods and climate change mitigation.
A special symposium on How to use knowledge on land restoration to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals was organized by UNU-LRT at the conference. Three former UNU-LRT fellows, Mr Emmanuel Lignule from Ghana, Ms Malipholo Hae from Lesotho and Mr Zhyrgalbek Kozhomberdiev from Kyrgyzstan, gave separate talks at the symposium on how land restoration can improve people’s food security and income, on the drivers of rangeland degradation and benefits of restoration, and on the cost of land degradation and economic benefits of reversing it, respectively. UNU-LRT Deputy Director Berglind Orradottir gave a talk on the role of land restoration in the UN 2030 agenda and Dr Barron Orr, the Lead Scientist for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), gave in his talk a global perspective on how SDG target 15.3 can help integrate and accelerate other SDGs.
UNU-LRT also co-organized a workshop at the conference with partners in the ENABLE consortium. The title of the workshop was Chief Ecosystem Officers—and how the ENABLE consortium works to educate these. In this interactive workshop, participants were introduced to the basic principles and concepts of integrated landscape management based on sustainable business models. The Hekluskógar case study was presented and participants were engaged, through group discussions, in finding innovative solutions to finance the project and find business opportunities by combining knowledge from economy and ecology. Participants learned why bridging these two worlds is an important way to accelerate effective landscape restoration and sustainable land management.
The conference of the European chapter of SER (Society for Ecological Restoration) was jointly organized by UNU-LRT, the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, the Agricultural University of Iceland and the Icelandic Environment Association Landvernd.