Al Unwin speaks at UN convention on biological diversity in Mexico

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Al Unwin presents as part of a panel discussion on forest landscapes and ecosystem restoration.

The associate dean of Niagara College’s School of Environmental and Horticulture Studies was a featured speaker at a recent United Nations conference on biodiversity.

The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity under the United Nations was held in mid-December in Cancun, Mexico.

Unwin participated both as the College’s associate dean and also as chair of the Washington, D.C.-based International Society for Ecological Restoration, otherwise known as SER.

At COP 13, SER launched a new groundbreaking document – the ‘International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration.’ The publication updates and expands guidance on the practice of ecological restoration and allied environmental repair activities, and includes ideas and input from a diverse international ground of restoration scientists and practitioners.

Among meetings and presentations, Unwin also participated in a panel discussion on Forest Landscapes and Ecosystem Restoration, where he stressed the importance of monitoring the restoration process. He urged the environmental community to build a strong business case for robust monitoring, emphasizing how returns on restoration investments over time can be determined with effective monitoring.

“The United Nations have set a goal adopted by over 190 nations around the world to restore 15% of degraded land by the end of this decade,” said Unwin, after returning from the convention. “Being able to participate in a meeting with such an important global goal has been a highlight of my career and will hopefully ensure that many, many more of our graduates will be needed well into the future.”

Unwin has been chair of SER since 2015. This was his first COP meeting with the UN convention on Biological Diversity and he participated in lead up meetings last spring in preparation for the recent COP.

“Restoration is another area that requires the participation of all partners, and a common and coherent approach,” said Brauilio Diaz, executive secretary, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, in the opening address in Cancun. “The short-term action plan on eco-system restoration should facilitate our work on the achievement of Aichi Biodiversity Target 15, and corresponding national targets and pledges in this area.”

For more information on Aichi, visit: www.cbd.int/sp/targets/

Al Unwin stands with Jim Hallett, treasurer of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Adjunct Professor of biology at Eastern Washington University; George Gann, global ambassador for SER and chair emeritus, Chief Conservation Strategist, the Institute for Regional Conservation, Delray Beach Florida; and Bethanie Walder, executive director, Society for Ecological Restoration, Washington D.C.

Al Unwin stands with Jim Hallett, treasurer of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Adjunct Professor of biology at Eastern Washington University; George Gann, global ambassador for SER and chair emeritus, Chief Conservation Strategist, the Institute for Regional Conservation, Delray Beach Florida; and Bethanie Walder, executive director, Society for Ecological Restoration, Washington D.C.

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