World Promise to Conserve Remaining Forest

World leader and other major stake holders promised to strengthen their shared efforts to conserve forest and other terrestrial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration, as well as facilitate sustainable trade and development policies, internationally and domestically. The pledge was taken at the ongoing COP26 World Leaders Summit in Glasgow.

Declaration 

Through the Declaration, the leaders promised to strengthen their efforts to conserve forest and other terrestrial ecosystems. They also pledged to accelerate restoration of the eco system, as well as facilitate sustainable trade and development policies, internationally and domestically.

In the declaration the leaders reaffirmed their respective commitments to sustainable land use, and to the conservation, protection, sustainable management and restoration of forests, and other terrestrial ecosystems.

“Recognise that to meet our land use, climate, biodiversity and sustainable development goals, both globally and nationally, will require transformative further action in the  interconnected areas of sustainable production and consumption; infrastructure development; trade; finance and investment; and support for smallholders, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities, who depend on forests for their livelihoods and have a key role in their stewardship,” the declaration read.

The World committed to:

  1. Conserve forests and other terrestrial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration;
  2. Facilitate trade and development policies, internationally and domestically, that promote sustainable development, and sustainable commodity production and consumption, that work to countries’ mutual benefit, and that do not drive deforestation and land degradation;
  3. Reduce vulnerability, build resilience and enhance rural livelihoods, including through empowering communities, the development of profitable, sustainable agriculture, and recognition of the multiple values of forests, while recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as local communities, in accordance with relevant national legislation and international instruments, as appropriate;
  4. Implement and, if necessary, redesign agricultural policies and programmes to incentivise sustainable agriculture, promote food security, and benefit the environment;
  5. Reaffirm international financial commitments and significantly increase finance and investment from a wide variety of public and private sources, while also improving its effectiveness and accessibility, to enable sustainable agriculture, sustainable forest management, forest conservation and restoration, and support for Indigenous Peoples and local communities;
  6. Facilitate the alignment of financial flows with international goals to reverse forest loss and degradation, while ensuring robust policies and systems are in place to accelerate the transition to an economy that is resilient and advances forest, sustainable land use, biodiversity and climate goals.

They also urged the countries to join forces in a sustainable land use transition. “This is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, including reducing vulnerability to the impacts of  climate change and holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C,” they declared.

BORIS JOHNSON

UK Prime Minister Boris announced that at least 110 countries representing 85 per cent of the planet’s forests had signed the pivotal COP26 Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, committing to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

“Protecting our forest is not only a course of action for tackling climate change but also for a more prosperous future,” he said. The Prime Minister also noted that China, Russia and Brazil have joined the promise, which he believed could be also a ‘parallel’ opportunity for job creation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro appeared in a pre-recorded message supporting the pledge, among other leaders absent from the COP.

Meanwhile, UN chief António Guterres said that it was essential that the declaration signed was implemented now for people and the planet,

FINANCE

The leaders also promised at the conference to facilitate the alignment of financial flows with international goals to reverse loss and degradation, while ensuring policies to accelerate a transition to a greener economy.

The commitment signed by more than 30 financial institutions covering over $8.7 trillion of global assets under management seeks to change that. It aims to move away from portfolios that invest in high deforestation-risk agricultural commodity supply chains and towards sustainable production.

‘Guilt free chocolate’

President of Indonesia Joko Widodo announced that 28 countries, representing 75 per cent of global trade in key products that threaten forests such as palm oil and cocoa, have committed to a set of actions to deliver sustainable trade.

“Guilt-free chocolate!” the UK Primer Minister shouted, as he noted that the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Roadmap for Action is a new partnership between governments of major producer and consumer countries to break the link between deforestation and agricultural commodities.

CONGO BASIC PLEDGE

The announcements didn’t end there. The COP26 co-hosts presented the Congo Basin Pledge, which has been signed by over 10 countries, the Bezos Earth Fund and the European Union to mobilize $1.5 billion to protect forests, peatlands and other critical carbon stores.

“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.

US, COLOMBIA  ANNOUNCE COMMITMENTS 

US President Joe Biden said that his country was committed to ensure free water, maintain biodiversity, protect indigenous communities and reduce the risk of spreading disease. He stated that 20 million hectares of forest land is already being restored and that the US is announcing a new plan to support the halt of deforestation and restoring carbon sinks.

Noting that billions of dollars would be mobilized, Mr. Biden added that the US aims to support the restoration of 200 million hectares of forest by 2030. “The plan is the first of its kind”.

Meanwhile, Columbia President Ivan Duque promised to protect 30 per cent of his country’s territory by 2022. “We can’t wait until 2030, we must act now to protect our forests”, he said, gaining an ovation of the room for one of the most ambitious promises presented at COP26.

JEFF BEZOS

Noting that nature is beautiful and also fragile, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told COP26; “I was reminded of this in July when I went into space with Blue Origin. I was told seeing the earth from space changes the lens through which you view the world, but I was not prepared for just how much that would be true.”

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

Three other major initiative were also launched on Tuesday:

The Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chacho (“IFACC”) will announce $3 billion to accelerate efforts that would ensure soy and cattle production does not worsen deforestation in South America.

The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Natural Capital Investment Alliance (“NCIA”), an organisation founded by HRH the Prince of Wales to boost private investment in natural capital, announced 12 new members and plans to mobilise $10 billion in private capital by the end of 2022.

An initial $1 billion of public and private funds will be secured through the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) Coalition which includes big companies such as Delta, PWC, Airbnb, Unilever. This will provide funding to countries that successfully reduce emissions from deforestation, provided those reductions have been independently verified and confirmed. Finance will only be provided by companies already committed to emissions cuts in their own supply chains.

Financial Institutions

A joint statement from nine multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, was presented in support of all the investments and transitions announced.

In it, they commit to mainstream nature in their investments and in policy dialogue with countries.

INDIGENOUS LEADERS

Vice coordinator of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) Tuntiak Katak told the conference that they were looking for concrete evidence of a transformation in the way funds are invested. “If 80 per cent of what is proposed is directed to supporting land rights and the proposals of Indigenous and local communities, we will see a dramatic reversal in the current trend that is destroying our natural resources”, Katak noted.

“We are ready to act, and we will work together, we won’t drown… We are all traveling in the same canoe of the river basin”, he stressed.

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