World leaders outline forest vision at climate change talks | WWF

World leaders outline forest vision at climate change talks

Posted on 30 November 2015
World leaders announce support for forests
© WWF Forest & Climate Programme
World leaders at the climate summit today presented a joint statement in support of new partnerships for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from deforestation while promoting forest restoration and sustainable rural development. The unprecedented gathering of national leaders specifically on forests was hosted by Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change and Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy of France.

The vision statement, endorsed by leaders of 17 governments, describes a commitment to strong, collective, and urgent action to halt deforestation and significantly increase forest restoration. This high-level support raises hopes that the role of forests will be recognized in the final climate agreement reached next week, and most importantly, that the governments act now. The full statement is available online at www.standwithforests.org.

A number of heads of government showed they were ready to take the lead by announcing bold new partnerships for forest conservation and restoration. Commitments from tropical forest countries are being backed up by pledges of financial support from donor countries.

Most notably, Germany, Norway and the UK stated that they “stand ready […] to increase their annual support for REDD+ if countries come forward with ambitious and high quality proposals, with an aim to provide $1 billion per year by 2020, or to provide over $5 billion in the period 2015-2020, including a significant increase in pay-for-performance finance if countries demonstrate measured, reported and verified emission reductions.” 

They also pledged to continue and to scale up support and technical assistance for countries to enable them to actually achieve the desired results, to access pay-for-performance finance for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Recognizing the need to align private sector actions with REDD+ goals, they also committed “to partner with the private sector to transform supply chains to become deforestation-free, and leverage hundreds of billions of private investment in forests and agriculture.” 

There were also several specific, new financial commitments announced, including: 
  • $339M from Germany, Norway and the UK to support circa five new large-scale emissions reductions programs under the FCPF Carbon Fund
  • Norway will continue to financially support Brazil’s Amazon Fund at around current levels up to 2020, if Brazil continues to meet its ambitions. 
The event included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among the governments of Germany, Norway, UK, and Colombia (including provisions for over $100M in payments for verified emissions reductions). Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, said “Colombia is fully committed to increase its efforts to promote the sustainable use of forests, and address deforestation drivers by transforming its cattle ranching sector, strengthening its command and control actions, and combating illegal mining, illegal logging and illegal crops in forestry areas. The promotion of environmentally sustainable economic alternatives is key for reducing deforestation, improving the welfare of the population, and securing a stable and durable peace.” 

These latest announcements follow a number of promising developments over the last two years. The international community has agreed to ambitious goals for conserving and restoring forests, including under the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, many leading businesses have pledged to create deforestation-free supply chains.

Many forest countries have included commitments to reduce emissions from forests under their national climate change plans. And governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and indigenous peoples are already taking action to conserve and restore forests in order to reduce emissions, build resilience, protect biodiversity, and support sustainable livelihoods.

Peter Graham, head of WWF’s Forest and Climate Programme, said: “"We are encouraged by the joint statement by leaders at the start of the Paris conference, acknowledging the critical role of forests in combatting climate change. While both pre- and post-2020 actions are important, the commitments we heard today recognize the urgency to scale up emissions reductions through REDD+ before 2020. We see this as a model for scaling up ambition and addressing conditional commitments of countries in need of international support.

“We hope to see this vision reflected in a similarly ambitious climate agreement that acknowledges the importance of forests and land use – which are responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse-gas emissions.”

WWF believes the Paris agreement should include incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, manage forests sustainably, and enhance carbon sinks (REDD+). More than 50 developing countries worldwide have made significant progress in the design of their REDD+ programmes, but need assurance of long-term financial support from donor countries to implement them effectively.

“REDD+ provides the mechanism to make this forest vision a reality,” added Graham. “Governments, businesses, indigenous peoples, and civil society organizations have begun to act, and have made ambitious commitments. The climate agreement must help them deliver.”
World leaders announce support for forests
© WWF Forest & Climate Programme Enlarge
World leaders announce support for forests
© WWF Forest & Climate Programme Enlarge

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