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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Commitment for “Water Restoration”

University of Évora (
Academic institution

    The objectives of the “Water Restoration” Commitment are to:
    • Promote the adoption of standards-based ecological restoration for inland and coastal waters in order to improve ecological, social, and ecosystem services outcomes from restoration investments
    • Increase awareness and recognition of the importance of inland and coastal waters restoration to achieve the objectives of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
    • Create a common legal definition of ecological restoration in the context of inland and coastal waters in order to create consistency in delivery of local, national, and global restoration programs
    • Strengthen understanding of the Restorative Continuum as a tool for improving delivery of ecosystem and ecological restoration in inland and coastal waters
    • Stimulate global and political momentum for the revision and update of water and pollution conventions in line with restorative continuum
    • Strengthen the links between policy, research and practice to enable effective restoration of in-land waters
    • Raise awareness among law practitioners, regulators, and decision makers of the value of standards-based restoration to reduce both risk and uncertainty, and therefore to improve restoration outcomes.

    Its target audiences include:
    • Practitioners and researchers from across all sectors (e.g. governmental, nongovernmental, industry, regulatory) who work in the field of nature restoration of inland waters, including all freshwater ecosystems, wetlands, estuaries, etc.
    • Professionals responsible for applying environmental laws and regulations (lawyers, judges and prosecutors) at the global, regional, and national levels.
    • Practitioners responsible for complying with environmental laws at the national, local, and basin levels
    • Political and economic decision-makers at global level.

    The Commitment promotes the adoption and use of standards-based ecological restoration of inland and coastal aquatic systems in order to achieve the objectives of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, and to deliver ecological and social net gain by restoring these systems. Signatories will commit to carry out individual and joint actions to promote, assess and demonstrate restoration standards in different societal dimensions, in line with the SDGs 6 and 15.

    SER together with University of Évora will coordinate governance and follow-up regarding the commitments made.

    Expected Impact

    Expected Impact
    The IPBEs global assessment emphasized the need for transformative change if Nature Contributions to People (NCP) are to be secured and the importance of mainstreaming of biodiversity into sectoral policies. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration also calls for transformative change by 2030. In recent decades, ecological restoration has emerged as a key solution to halt degradation and accelerate the recovery of ecosystems’ physical, chemical, and biological integrity to ensure their functionality over time. Research plays a pivotal role in promoting transformative change in society including creating science-based legal frameworks that can help secure Natures Contributions to People.
    Inland and coastal water ecosystem restoration is high on the international agenda due to their continued degradation and their important role in provisioning freshwater for human consumption (United Nations, 2016; IPBES, 2018a). A myriad of International conventions and treaties mention restoration practices at global scale and the need for cooperation between States to effectively achieve Sustainable Development Goals. (Target 6.6 of SDG 6 and SDG 15).
    Although multiple international, regional and national legal instruments have included references to restoration in their texts (e.g. UN Water Convention), these instruments rarely define or provide any guidance on what type of restoration (e.g. ecosystem vs ecological), how restoration relates to other conservation practices, and how it should be implemented. This creates significant confusion in the use of similar terms (rehabilitation, mitigation, remediation, recovery) in legal instruments, as well as an extended fragmentation of environmental law that may hinder the achievement of restoration goals. Therefore, there is a need for a new legal principle or protocol on ecological restoration.
    At the regional level, in Europe, a clear need for a legally binding definition of restoration has been identified. The recent release of a proposed regulation targeted to Nature restoration includes a legal restoration definition for the first time, partially resolving this issue within the European Union.
    At the Global level the recent COP 15 Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework GBF) not only includes a target devoted to restoration, including specific recognition of inland waters (Target 2), but it also mentions the need and important role of technical and scientific cooperation (including through South- South, North-South and triangular cooperation) to effectively implement the goals and targets of the framework, particularly in developing countries (Target 20). Furthermore, the GBF clearly states that biodiversity-related conventions and other multilateral environmental agreements, are invited to prepare thematic capacity-building and development action plans for specific targets or groups of related targets, and to develop dedicated global, regional and subregional programmes to implement those thematic plans (point 8).
    The expected result from the implementation of this commitment is a more effective and efficient implementation of restoration practices around the global in its societal dimensions (legal, judicial and executive) promoting rapid regeneration capacity of in-land ecosystems.


    Society for Ecological Restoration
    Pan African Vision for Environment

    Additional information

    To be launched in the following side event - Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration in freshwater ecosystems: insights from law, practice and research around the world

    Goal 6

    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

    Goal 6


    By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all


    Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services


    By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations


    Proportion of population using (a) safely managed sanitation services and (b) a hand-washing facility with soap and water


    By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally


    Proportion of domestic and industrial wastewater flows safely treated


    Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality


    By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    Change in water-use efficiency over time


    Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources


    By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate


    Degree of integrated water resources management 


    Proportion of transboundary basin area with an operational arrangement for water cooperation


    By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time


    By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan


    Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management


    Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management

    Goal 15

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    Goal 15


    By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

    Forest area as a proportion of total land area
    Proportion of important sites for terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity that are covered by protected areas, by ecosystem type


    By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

    Progress towards sustainable forest management


    By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world

    Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area


    By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

    Coverage by protected areas of important sites for mountain biodiversity
    Mountain Green Cover Index


    Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

    Red List Index


    Promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources, as internationally agreed

    Number of countries that have adopted legislative, administrative and policy frameworks to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits


    Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products

    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked


    By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species

    Proportion of countries adopting relevant national legislation and adequately resourcing the prevention or control of invasive alien species


    By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts


    (a) Number of countries that have established national targets in accordance with or similar to Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 in their national biodiversity strategy and action plans and the progress reported towards these targets; and (b) integration of biodiversity into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting


    Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems


    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments


    Mobilize significant resources from all sources and at all levels to finance sustainable forest management and provide adequate incentives to developing countries to advance such management, including for conservation and reforestation


    (a) Official development assistance on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; and (b) revenue generated and finance mobilized from biodiversity-relevant economic instruments


    Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities

    Proportion of traded wildlife that was poached or illicitly trafficked
    Name Description
    Recommendations for UN Water Convention to include appropriate restoration defintions
    Recommendations for UN Pollution targeted Conventions to include appropriate restoration defintions
    In-kind contribution
    Partners involved
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    Action Network
    water logo
    23 March 2023 (start date)
    01 December 2025 (date of completion)
    University of Évora
    1. Global
    Other beneficiaries

    Water4All community

    More information
    United States of America
    United States of America
    Contact Information

    Ana, Prof.