COP26: More than 100 nations pledge to end deforestation by 2030
World leaders representing more than 100 nations, which between them play host to more than 85% of forests globally, have committed to end deforestation and reverse land degradation at COP26 in Glasgow.
The commitment is being described as a “landmark moment” for nature and, on the day of its launch, has already garnered financial support pledges of £8.75bn from national governments and £5.3bn from the private sector. The UK Government is providing £1.5bn to the initiative.
Under the commitment, nations commit to halt deforestation and land degradation by 2030, and to enter into a period of restoration by this point if possible.
Funding will be provided to developing nations as a priority, supporting projects that restore land degraded by land-use change for agri-food, other commercial activities, flooding, drought and wildfires. There will also be funding provided for initiatives that seek to ensure that the rights of Indigenous communities are respected. Some 80% of the world’s biodiversity is estimated to be concentrated within regions where Indigenous communities are based.
The commitment has been made following the first part of the UN’s 15th Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and on the first full day of proceedings at COP26, in recognition of the role that forests play in mitigating the climate crisis. Forests absorb around one-third of the emissions generated from fossil fuel use each year, but are being degraded and chopped down at an increasing rate, lowering this carbon sequestration capability. Moreover, they play a key role in regulating global weather systems, preserving soil quality and hosting animal life.
Countries to have signed the commitment at the time of publication are: Albania, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, European Union, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Romania, Russia, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uruguay, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It is notable that Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela are missing from the list.
Commenting on the commitment, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Forests support communities, livelihoods and food supply, and absorb the carbon we pump into the atmosphere. They are essential to our very survival.
“With today’s unprecedented pledges, we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian.”
In addition to the 2030 commitment, a separate statement on Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) has been signed by 28 nations collectively representing 75% of global trade in key commodities that can threaten forests, such as palm oil, cocoa, soya and paper and pulp.
The Statement should be published in full by tomorrow (2 November). It includes a common set of principles for activities such as supporting smallholder farmers and improving supply chain transparency.
Earlier this year, the UK notably introduced a new “comply or explain” mandate for businesses sourcing forest-risk commodities from overseas, requiring them to prove that no illegal deforestation took place in the supply chain. Ministers have faced mounting calls from businesses, scientists and NGOs to extend this mandate to deforestation that is technically legal, particularly in places like Brazil.
Reacting to the forest deal, the Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems’ coordinator Joseph Itongwa Mukumo said: “We are delighted to see Indigenous Peoples mentioned in the forest deal announced today. We look forward to a day when the political and economic sectors will push for secure tenure for communities, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is appropriate—in fact urgent—in light of the evidence that we represent an effective and untapped solution for the deforestation they have been unable to stop on their own”.
The Chatham House Sustainability Accelerator’s executive director Ana Yang said: “The Forest Deal is an important global effort to stop deforestation. It signals that deforestation-free supply chains should be the norm – a critical first step towards protecting our forests. For a long-term solution, the international community must also help ensure the socio-economic needs and aspirations of the people who live in and around the forests are met. A 1.5C future is possible, but only if it includes protection of forest and restoration of nature.”
Trillion Trees’ executive director John Lotspeich said: “It’s fantastic that world leaders have finally stepped up to take action against the devastating effects of deforestation. Yes, we must restore forests and plant trees to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. But at the same time, if forests continue to disappear at the current catastrophic rate, all this work will be to no avail. And frankly, the silence around the value of intact forests has been deafening.
“We welcome today’s announcement by world leaders showing that deforestation is finally being taken seriously. What remains to be seen is whether those who have made these commitments will deliver them through practical action. There can be no delay: we must act now to secure our planet’s future.”
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