A big announcement from Realize Impact’s partner in The TerraFund…
VANCOUVER, CANADA (April 17, 2023) — At TED2023, the Audacious Project announced that World Resources Institute (WRI)’s Restore Local project will be awarded $100 million over four years to accelerate locally led land restoration in three African landscapes: the Lake Kivu & Rusizi River Basin area, the Cocoa Belt of Ghana and Greater Rift Valley of Kenya. This investment is aligned with anchor funding from the Bezos Earth Fund of $50 million and the ambitious goals of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), a partnership of 33 African governments with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) as its secretariat. This $150 million achieves 30% of the fundraising target of $500 million for philanthropy.
With support through The Audacious Project, Restore Local will make direct investments in local community-based organizations and small and medium enterprises to accelerate restoration activities on the ground, deepen their knowledge and skills, propose and implement supportive policies, and monitor their impact. It will contribute to AFR100’s continent-wide mission to restore 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030, as well as various government commitments in each country.
Housed within TED, a non-profit organization that aims to help create a future worth pursuing for all, The Audacious Project selects a cohort of projects every year that represent bold solutions to the challenges facing the world. By connecting these ambitious ideas with an inspiring group of donors and supporters, The Audacious Project helps these big ideas scale up more quickly and amplify the overall impact of their work.
“I am honored that Restore Local was selected for catalytic funding through The Audacious Project, which is a clear signal of confidence in locally led action,” said Wanjira Mathai, WRI’s Managing Director, Africa and Global Partnerships. “Restoration is one of the most powerful investments we can make on the planet because restoring degraded land can simultaneously mitigate climate change and cushion communities against the worst impacts. It can also replenish soil productivity, create jobs and improve family incomes.”
“Restore Local is a bold plan to bring the land back to optimal health, by supporting local tree-growing champions,” said Anna Verghese, Executive Director, The Audacious Project. “We look forward to partnering with this locally led movement to enhance restoration activities, monitoring, and policy work. This investment reflects our deep confidence in the restoration movement, not just for land, but to benefit livelihoods and expand economically viable opportunities throughout the African continent.”
The $100 million investment, mobilized with support through The Audacious Project and the Climate Leadership Initiative, will join existing contributions to the African restoration movement and build towards the goal of developing a $2 billion fund. Announced at COP27, the fund is managed by Southbridge Investments and anchored by the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), blending $500 million of concessional finance with $1.5 billion of private investment.
“Restore Local is a beacon of possibility for people, nature, and climate together.” said Ani Dasgupta, CEO of World Resources Institute. “This investment will not only help communities restore their landscapes and effectively build climate resilience but can also start to fundamentally transform the lives of a majority of people who rely on land for their food and livelihoods on the Africa continent. The innovation here is a hyper-local yet scalable approach that many other regions can learn from around the world.”
WRI and its partners, One Tree Planted and Realize Impact, have already begun this work through TerraFund for AFR100, thanks to the support of eight donors – AKO Foundation, the Bezos Earth Fund, Caterpillar Foundation, Doen Foundation, GiveOne, Good Energies Foundation, Lyda Hill Foundation and Meta. In its first cohort in 2022, the program invested in 100 community organizations and entrepreneurs that restore land across 27 countries – and catalogues the training that they needed to expand their work. Through the TerraMatch platform, the progress of each project is closely tracked through a combination of reports submitted by local organizations, independent field verification, and satellite monitoring.
“Africa’s restoration movement is at a positive tipping point,” said Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “We are proud to stand with other philanthropic partners in support of locally led restoration. With the right capital, capacity, and connections, these local leaders can change the trajectory of global climate and biodiversity crises.”
Efforts are underway to secure the remaining $350 million in grant funding required to reach the goal of $500 million. This funding will build greater momentum towards public and private finance, enabling local restoration activities to expand and scale up across landscapes in Africa.
About World Resources Institute
World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization with offices in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, and regional offices for Africa and Europe. Our over 1,700 staff work with partners to develop practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. Learn more: WRI.org and on Twitter @WorldResources.
About The Audacious Project
Launched in April 2018, The Audacious Project is a collaborative funding initiative that is catalyzing social impact on a grand scale. Housed at TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, and with support from leading social impact advisor The Bridgespan Group, The Audacious Project convenes funders and social entrepreneurs with the goal of supporting bold solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges. The funding collective is made up of respected organizations and individuals in philanthropy, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, MacKenzie Scott, Skoll Foundation, Valhalla Foundation, and more. Each year The Audacious Project supports a new cohort. The 2023 grantees are CAMFED, Canopy, Clean Slate Initiative, Global Fishing Watch, Innovative Genomics Institute, Jan Sahas’ Migrants Resilience Collaborative, ReNew2030, Restore Local, Think of Us, and Upstream USA.
AFR100 (the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative) is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030. The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), World Resources Institute (WRI), Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the World Bank launched the initiative at COP21 in Paris, with AUDA-NEPAD acting as the AFR100 Secretariat. Uniting 33 African governments and numerous technical and financial partners, it aims to accelerate restoration to enhance food security, increase climate change resilience and mitigation, and combat rural poverty.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Restore Local?
Restore Local is a WRI-led project under the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), a continent-wide partnership to restore 100 million hectares of land by 2030. The four-year project will work to restore Africa’s vital landscapes by investing in locally led restoration at scale, providing local communities and businesses across the continent with the support they need to revitalize their landscapes. Restore Local will align its work with a four-part blueprint, creating training and mentorship opportunities, directly funding restoration champions, securing policies that reward farmers, and helping communities track their restoration progress with the right monitoring tools. Collaborating with key partners and stakeholders, it will focus on delivering this blueprint in three anchor landscapes: the Greater Rift Valley of Kenya; the Lake Kivu & Rusizi River Basin in Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Ghana Cocoa Belt.
Which organizations receive financing from Restore Local?
While WRI serves as the custodian of the funding allocated by The Audacious Project donors, the majority of this financing will flow directly to local entrepreneurs and community-based organizations that restore land – the “restoration champions” – along with the capacity-building programs that support them. Restore Local will use this funding to drive change on the ground by collecting the information of restoration champions through open requests for proposals. Then, the project will mobilize technical experts, from local university departments to financial analysts, to support each organization according to their needs. Through the TerraFund for AFR100 and Land Accelerator programs, WRI and its core partners – including One Tree Planted, the African Union Development Agency, Realize Impact, and South Bridge Investments – have already supported more than 300 of these “restoration champions.” Meet 100 of these champions here.
Why does Restore Local focus its work in three landscapes?
The causes of degradation and the opportunity of restoration vary from landscape to landscape, community to community. To tap into local knowledge and accelerate the work that is already under way, Restore Local chose to concentrate its impact in three target landscapes: The Lake Kivu & Rusizi River Basin of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda; the Greater Rift Valley of Kenya, and the Cocoa Belt of Ghana. The communities that live in these landscapes suffer from the effects of degradation, host governments with strong commitment to restoration, and are home to a significant number of locally led organizations with restoration experience. These factors make these three landscapes and their surrounding areas particularly ripe for investment. As Restore Local matures, the lessons learned here will shape the entire continent’s restoration movement.
How does this $100 million contribute to Restore Local’s larger fundraising target?
In November 2021, the Bezos Earth Fund and a coalition of donors provided $20 million to support 100 restoration champions by capitalizing TerraFund for AFR100’s first cohort, the “Top 100.” That investment marked the final chapter of the first phase of AFR100. One year later, the Earth Fund provided the first concrete finance toward Restore Local, investing $27.2 million in local restoration champions. With the $100 million announced today, Restore Local is now $150 million toward reaching its $500 million goal from philanthropies. That capital is intended to raise more than $2 billion in further investment from the private sector, multilateral development banks, and bilateral government donors.
How much will go to each country/landscape?
While WRI and its partners want to see a certain level of minimum investment per country and per landscape, we also want to prioritize investments in capacity and implementation where the pipeline of restoration champions, local entrepreneurs and community organizations, are most ready to responsibly absorb that capacity and capital and transform those inputs into impact on the ground.
How does Restore Local engage government agencies?
The national and local government agencies that operate in the Restore Local landscapes have invested their own resources in restoration. At the national level, the project engages ministries of the environment, agriculture, and finance to ensure that investments made in locally led community-based organizations and enterprises reflect the development priorities of each country. At the county and province level, Restore Local works with political leaders to mobilize community organizations to conceptualize their ideas into solid project proposals. At the community level, Restore Local engages forest associations, forestry officers, agricultural extension trainers, and mayors to assess how local organizations are improving people’s live and the environment.