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Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services, ID: LC-GD-7-1-2020
Resilient, healthy ecosystems are natural carbon stocks and sinks. They can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and support adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction. In addition to delivering a wide range of other services (oxygen source, improved health and well-being, recreation, water retention and purification, air quality, nutrient cycling or pollination), ecosystems are essential in a wide range of sectors which impact the everyday life of Europe's citizens (food, feed, fibre or fuel provision across the bioeconomy). However, biodiversity is being lost and ecosystems are degrading at an alarming rate. Pressures on biodiversity are increasing at a faster rate than the efforts to protect it. The integrity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and their capacity to deliver a wide range of essential services to people, will be further undermined by the effects of unavoidable climate change. There is therefore a need to strengthen their resilience against environmental and climate stressors while integrating the local socio-economic specificities of their surrounding environment.

While solutions for the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services are available now, they are neither up-scaled nor integrated enough in today's governance, investment or policy support landscapes. Research and demonstration on how to scale up technical and non-technical approaches for the spatial and social-economic integration of restoration impacts is therefore needed. The environmental emergency highlights the limits of current management approaches and calls for investment in innovative, sustainable and effective restoration including through mobilising innovative funding and cross-sectoral collaborations that could trigger transformational change. Moreover, the global biodiversity post-2020 framework seeks voluntary commitments by business and stakeholders to invest in biodiversity and new approaches to speed up actions in the framework of the UN decade for restoration.

From increased social awareness to more engagement with the private sector, there is a distinct need to build trans-disciplinary collaborations at all scales and across relevant ecosystem types. Win-win solutions and multi-purpose usage that support local biodiversity while delivering specific services and socio-economic benefits are sought. Hence, this topic seeks answers on how to frame transformational change which supports a just transition - to show how investing in nature restoration can explicitly help vulnerable regions and communities to improve their resilience to social and environmental shocks, when rapid changes in climate and environment, economies and social conditions occur.

Actions should:
o provide large-scale demonstrators of how systemic upscaling and replication of best practice ecosystem restoration can be deployed at regional, national and cross-border levels, focusing on degraded terrestrial, freshwater, coastal or marine ecosystems, responding to relevant restoration goals enhancing biodiversity;
o in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those with high potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters, and, where relevant, to contribute to the achievement of favourable status for species and habitats of the Birds and Habitats Directives inside and outside the Natura 2000 network of protected areas;
o adapt, integrate and demonstrate innovative methods (technological, non-technological, social and governance, including sustainable financing) on upscaling ecosystem restoration, also in regions and for communities in transition;
o support the development of specific demand and supply chains in restoring ecosystems on land or at sea - recognising that conditions at sea can considerably differ from the ones on land (including freshwater), that speed of change and disturbance might differ, and that solutions to reverse biodiversity decline are context-specific;
o demonstrate and test how restoration activities and socio-ecological management of ecosystems enable sustainable, climate-neutral and climate-resilient, inclusive, transformative approaches, including across the bioeconomy (agriculture, forestry, marine and innovative bio-based sectors) and as investments in disaster risk reduction.

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