New Jersey, USA, October 20 (IPS) – The government agrees that climate conservation means saving forests – but less than ambition and action.
First good news: One of the forest goals agreed upon by government, business and civil society organizations has been met.
In 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) set 10 goals for the protection and restoration of the world’s forests. Its latest progress assessment focuses on the goal of ensuring that reducing deforestation and deforestation is part of the global climate agreement.
This is one of the few goals that we can say unequivocally that has been achieved. The 2015 Paris Agreement included the importance of forests in the international climate program. This includes measures to reduce emissions from deforestation and deforestation, support sustainable forest management, and provide financial incentives to increase forest carbon stocks (REDD +).
So far so good. But contracts are one thing – the ones that count are how they are applied in practice. And on that front, the news is not so good.
When it comes to forests, emissions tend to go in the wrong direction, deforestation and deforestation continue unabated. And we are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change from the Amazon to Siberia to the Mediterranean – fires that themselves release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
As the NYDF progress assessment shows, we need to do more to harness the vast potential of forests to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. Encouragingly, most countries now recognize the potential of forests in their latest government climate action plan, known as the Nationally Defined Contribution (NDC). But many still do not include moderate goals – and when they do, they are rarely ambitious.
The goal of many tropical forests is conditional on international climate financing – yet this is not happening on the scale needed. Although tropical forest countries have made progress in developing REDD + programs, funding for results has not yet been implemented. Domestically and internationally, the government spends about Rs. has pledged billions of US dollars, about 0.5-5% of the need – and has been dwarfed by continued subsidies flowing into deforestation operations.
A growing number of NDCs are recognizing the role of tribal and local community (IPLC) as landowners, which is a sign of progress. But at least half of the traditional IPL lands around the world are not yet legally recognized – and where IPL rights are legally recognized, they are often not enforced.
Indeed, this is generally true of forest governance. Many countries now have policies that look good on paper, but they are not enforced or enforced. In recent years, deforestation of at least 69% of the land managed by agriculture has been illegal – but it has happened.
So how do we turn things around? The logic of forest conservation and restoration is well known, the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic has only strengthened the connection between the health of mankind and the health of the planet. We also know the solutions.
We need greater cooperation across landscapes, sectors and supply chains. Businesses need to eliminate deforestation and habitat conversion from their supply chain. Governments need to implement supportive laws and incentives – both in forest lands and in countries that use deforestation products. The finance sector needs to redirect financial flows from activities that deforest and conduct forest-friendly initiatives. The rights of the IPLC must be recognized and upheld, while small holders and the community must be assisted to create sustainable livelihoods.
The growing climate crisis adds urgency to all these needs. In 2015, the WWF and others campaigned hard to ensure that the role of forests was recognized in the Paris Agreement. Achieving that goal was a big win. But now we have to go further.
The upcoming COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow is the most important since Paris. This will set the agenda for the next make-a-break decade. COP26 governments must take more ambitious steps in the forest. They must increase the level of forest climate financing by a larger order. After all, they must turn words into action.
Fran Raymond Price has spent his career in forest protection and forest development around the world. He joined the WWF in June 2020 after 18 years at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), where he helped promote the organization’s adoption and responsible forest management and certification. He holds a master’s degree in forestry from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a BA in History and Government from Cornell University. He began his afforestation career as a Peace Corps Community Forestry volunteer in the Dominican Republic.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 that works to conserve deserts and reduce human impact on the environment. The previous name was the World Wildlife Fund, which remained its official name in Canada and the United States.
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