January 18, 2022 11:18 pm

Forests and climate change: More than 100 countries commit to ending deforestation by 2030

On the second day of the world leaders’ climate summit, COP26, more than 100 countries have pledged to save and restore our planet’s forests.

Participants in the Climate Change Conference on Tuesday found a plenary room illuminated in green, the sound of birds and the rustling of leaves, which this time came from the giant screens and speakers. There even seemed to be a general calm among the delegates, as if they were breathing the cleanest air in the mountains.

“Today is going to be a monumental day, we are going to set the course on how to preserve the lungs of the world.” The opening statement by the emcee Sandrine Dixson-Declève welcomed participants to the key event on what are considered the lungs of the planet.

This was followed by a film narrated by Sir David Attenborough on the big screens in the venue.

“By destroying forests, we are harming biodiversity and our lives … Forests provide fresh water, clean the air we breathe, inspire spiritual courage and provide us with food … Our challenge now must be to stop deforestation and begin to restore forests. It requires a huge effort, and each country will need its own way of approaching the matter “, his characteristic voice echoed throughout the room.

His speech seemed to reach many.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the podium to announce that at least 110 countries, representing 85% of the world’s forests, have now signed the crucial Glasgow Leaders’ Statement on Forests and Land Use from COP26, committing to stop and reverse deforestation by 2030.

“Protecting our forests is not only a measure to tackle climate change, but also for a more prosperous future,” he said.

Johnson stressed that China, Russia and Brazil have also joined in on the promise, which he believes may also be a parallel opportunity for job creation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and also Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared in a prerecorded message supporting the promise, among other leaders absent from the Conference.

“Signing the declaration is the easy part. It is essential that it is implemented now“urged the General secretary of the UN, António Guterres, on his official Twitter account.

CIFOR/Marco Simola

Unamat forest in Puerto Maldonado, Peru.

What the statement promises

In the declaration, the leaders promise to reinforce their common efforts to preserve and accelerate the restoration of forests and other terrestrial ecosystems, as well as facilitate sustainable trade and development policies, both internationally and nationally.

The text also mentions the empowerment of local communities, including indigenous peoples, who are often negatively affected by the exploitation and degradation of forests.

The declaration also aims to implement and redesign agricultural policies and programs to reduce hunger and protect the environment.

Funding is also key in engagement. The leaders promise to facilitate the alignment of financial flows with international goals to reverse loss and degradation, while ensuring policies to accelerate the transition to a greener economy.

In the last ten years, approximately 40 times more funds were spent on destructive land use practices than on forest protection, conservation and sustainable agriculture.

The pledge, signed by more than 30 financial institutions covering more than $ 8.7 trillion of assets under management around the world, aims to change this. Its aim is to move away from portfolios that invest in supply chains of agricultural products with high risk of deforestation and towards sustainable production.

 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

UN News / Laura Quiñones

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Guilt-free chocolate”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo joined Boris Johnson in announcing that 28 countries, accounting for 75% of global trade in key forest-threatening products such as palm oil and cocoa, have committed to a joint of measures to achieve sustainable trade.

“Guilt-free chocolate!” The UK Prime Minister shouted excitedly, introducing the new “Roadmap for Action on Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade”, a new partnership between US governments. leading producer and consumer countries to break the link between deforestation and agricultural products.

The roadmap will accelerate measures that incentivize sustainability in the supply chain, support small farmers to participate in markets, improve the transparency of supply chains and drive new technologies and innovation.

The Congo Basin Compromise

The ads didn’t stop there. Co-hosts of COP26 presented the Congo Basin Pledge, which has been signed by more than 10 countries, the Earth Fund of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and the European Union to mobilize $ 1.5 billion to protect forests, peatlands and other critical carbon pools.

“The Congo Basin is the heart and lung of the African continent, we cannot win the battle against climate change if we do not keep the basin standing,” declared Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

According to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the initiative is also part of the new global commitment to finance forests of more than 12,000 million dollars.

Is about “the largest collective commitment of public funds for climate action in history. Let’s put an end to this great global chainsaw massacre, “he said.

United States President Joseph R. Biden addresses participants at the Climate Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

UN Regional Information Center / Miranda Alexander-Webber

United States President Joseph R. Biden addresses participants at the Climate Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

The United States and Colombia also commit

United States President Joe Biden participated in the event and said his country is committed to ensuring free water, maintaining biodiversity, protecting indigenous communities and reducing the risk of spreading disease.

Biden added that 20 million hectares of forests are already being restored and that the United States announces a new plan to halt deforestation and restore carbon sinks.

“We have to address this issue with the same seriousness as the decarbonization of our economies. That is what we are doing in the United States,” he said.

Regarding the mobilization of billions of dollars, Biden added that the United States intends to support the restoration of 200 million hectares of forest by 2030. “The plan is the first of its kind.”

For his part, the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, promised to protect 30% of his country’s territory by 2022.

“We cannot wait until 2030, we must act now to protect our forests,” he said, earning a standing ovation from the room for one of the most ambitious promises presented at the Conference so far.

 Jeff Bezos during his speech at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

UN Regional Information Center / Miranda Alexander-Webber

Jeff Bezos during his speech at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The Jeff Bezos promise and private sector action

“Nature is beautiful, but it is also fragile. I was reminded of that in July when I went into space with Blue Origin. They told me that seeing Earth from space changes the lens through which the world is viewed, but I was not prepared. to find out to what extent that would be true, “said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in Glasgow.

Through his Earth Fund, Bezos pledged an additional $ 2 billion to help restore nature and transform food systems. The Fund had already pledged another $ 1 billion in early September.

“Will we work together in this room to gift our children and grandchildren with the enhancement of the natural world? I know we will work together on this important journey,” Bezos said.

Three other large private sector initiatives were also launched:

  • Innovative Financing for the Amazon, the Cerrado and the Chacho (“IFACC”) will announce the contribution of $ 3 billion to slow deforestation and soy and livestock production in South America
  • The Alliance for Natural Capital Investment of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, an organization founded by the Prince of Wales to boost private investment in natural capital, announced the addition of 12 new members and plans to mobilize $ 10 billion in private capital to late 2022.
  • An initial $ 1 billion of public and private funding will be raised through the Coalition to Reduce Emissions through Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF), which includes large companies such as Delta, PWC, Airbnb and Unilever. This will provide funding to countries that successfully reduce emissions from deforestation, provided those reductions have been independently verified and confirmed. Funding will only be provided by companies that have already committed to reducing emissions in their own supply chains

Financial institutions

Also today a joint statement of nine multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, which supports all announced investments and transitions.

In it, the financial institutions are committed to integrating nature into their investments and in political dialogue with countries.

Indigenous peoples react

More than 1.6 billion people around the world depend on forests for their livelihoods, and indigenous peoples are the custodians of at least 36% of the world’s great intact forests. Data shows that when local people are empowered to manage forests, they are better protected and managed.

Several indigenous leaders from around the world spoke out on the Glasgow Forest and Land Pledge during the event.

“We will look for concrete evidence of a transformation in the way funds are invested. If 80% of what is being proposed goes towards supporting land rights and the proposals of indigenous and local communities, we will see a drastic change in trend. that is destroying our natural resources, “said Tuntiak Katak, vice-coordinator of the Coordinator of indigenous organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

“We are ready to act, and we will work together, we will not drown … We all travel in the same canoe in the basin,” he emphasized, speaking in Spanish in the plenary room.


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