8 things you need to know from Nature Day at COP26
Saturday (6 November) here at COP26 was Nature and Land Use Day, with a flurry of major announcements coming from nations, the finance sector and consumer goods companies. Here, edie rounds up eight key headlines from the day.
While it may have been the weekend for the rest of the world, Saturday was a full day of proceedings at COP26 in Glasgow, with negotiations, side events and announcements all programmed ahead of the conference’s one and only rest day on Sunday (7 November).
As expected, the focus on nature and land-use was welcome. There was a clear recognition, after the first part of the 15th UN Convention on Biological Diversity, that, at the same time as the global temperature has been increasing, nature has been degraded. Climate and nature are twin crises; inaction in one space will harm the other, and accelerating harm can create dangerous feedback loops and tipping points. Likewise, they can be twin solutions.
There were several major announcements today, from national governments, large finance firms, commercial forest commodity users and platforms like the World Economic Forum. Here, edie rounds up eight of the day’s major talking points.
1) 45 nations agree on agricultural policy reform principles
The UN estimates that land use generates at least one-quarter of global annual emissions and that three-quarters of deforestation to date has been driven by the agri-food system.
So, starting with this announcement that came from the UNFCCC at one minute past midnight: A total of 45 nations have signed on to a new Policy Action Agenda, designed to help policymakers make the necessary changes to deliver a food system that is not only low-carbon and deforestation-free, but that supports farmers and others across the food chain; consumes less water and chemicals and produces less waste. Around one-third of all food produced globally is wasted.
The first flurry of policies exemplifying the Agenda principles was announced at a press conference in the afternoon, with the UN flagging:
- Brazil’s plans to scale its ABC+ low carbon farming programme to 72 million hectares, claiming this could mitigate one billion tonnes of emissions by 2030.
- Germany’s confirmation that it will draw up plans to lower emissions from land use by 25 million tonnes by 2030.
- The UK’s aim to engage 75% of farmers in low-carbon practices by 2030.
2) 150 organisations target $4bn of public investment in agriculture innovations
Also launched by the UNFCCC today was a Global Action Agenda on Innovation in Agriculture, signed by the same 45 nations, plus more than 100 other organisations including businesses, research institutions, farmers groups and regions and states. The Agenda will aim to leverage more than $4bn of public investment in innovations such as climate-resilient crops, digital technologies and solutions that improve soil quality.
3) New national signatories to Monday’s landmark forests declaration
On Monday, 100 nations, which between them play host to more than 85% of forests globally, committed to ending land degradation and deforestation by 2030. Restoration should also be targeted in this timeframe if possible.
Since then, a further 34 nations have signed up. The declaration now covers 91% of forests globally.
The declaration notably commits funding specifically to protecting the rights and livelihoods of Indigenous communities.
Such a joy to hear Lord Nick Stern and Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta in conversation @COP26 on the interweaving of the economics of biodiversity and ecosystems, with the economics of climate change. #dasguptareview #climatechange #biodiversity #nature pic.twitter.com/pKLku5GWlh— emilymckenzie (@ejmckenzie1) November 6, 2021
4) 95 UK businesses target net-positivity for nature
In the private sector, 95+ UK businesses made a joint commitment to deliver ‘nature positive’ operations by the end of the decade. The commitment is being coordinated by the UNFCCC and the UK’s COP26 unit.
Businesses involved in the commitment include Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer (M&S), the Co-op, OVO Energy, Severn Trent and Burberry, the latter of which is publishing a new biodiversity strategy this week.
Participating businesses will develop best-practice targets and have them verified through the Science-Based Targets for Nature initiative. SBTs for corporate emissions have existed for several years now, and nature targets are expected next year, following the publication of draft framework this year.
5) Asset managers covering $8.7trn vow to end deforestation linked to commodities
The UK’s COP26 Unit stated this morning that, since 2010, roughly 40 times more finance has flowed into land-use practices that degrade nature than into conservation, restoration and sustainable agriculture.
In a bid to help buck this trend, the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience have united 33 major financial institutions with more than $8.7trn in assets under management collectively. The firms have committed to stop financing deforestation driven by agricultural commodities by 2025. Risk exposure assessments should be completed by the end of 2022, in sectors including beef, palm oil, soy, leather, pulp and paper.
6) Glasgow climate protests attract 100,000 people
Following yesterday's Fridays for Future March of 20-30,0000 people, the COP26 Coalition and other groups today convened more than 100,000 protestors in Glasgow, as part of a series of 200 marches taking place worldwide.
The Coalition said in a statement: "The era of injustice is over. We need climate action that works for all of us, not just the people with the most money in their pocket."
Joining climate activists and local families were groups campaigning for a second referendum on Scottish independence, bagpipers and drummers.
Activists from all over the globe are mobilising to demand a future that works for all of us.— COP26 Coalition (@COP26_Coalition) November 6, 2021
We reject false solutions. We reject empty promises. We demand system change and we demand it now. ✊ #UprootTheSystem #COP26GDA pic.twitter.com/8sqJcSOxUi
7) 20 consumer goods giants plot path to ‘forest-positivity’
Back in 2020 at Climate Week NYC, the Consumer Goods Forum launched a Forest Positive Coalition of action – a group of big businesses with the overarching aim of delivering deforestation-free supply chains and reaching a ‘net-positive’ forest impact by 2030.
The Coalition has now launched a strategy plan, confirming that it is currently calculating the extent of its footprint across forest commodities. This baseline is how the Coalition will determine what is needed to achieve an overall ‘net-positive’ impact.
At the same time, the Coalition has selected 20 forest schemes across six nations (Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Russia, Indonesia and Malaysia) which Coalition members will support as part of a “learning phase” through to late 2023. Members are required to invest annually in at least one of the initiatives and learnings from this process will be used to inform future strategizing from the CGF.
7) Scottish Government launches first multi-year nature restoration fund
The Scottish Government has launched a new Nature Restoration Fund, which will provide £55m for projects domestically over a five-year period.
Large-scale, multi-year, multi-partner projects will be supported, the Government said in a statement, including those relating to lochs, peatlands, wetlands.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government forged an agreement with the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group to ensure that its Covid-19 recovery plans are designed to deliver long-term climate, nature and social targets.
From the UK Government, it has been confirmed that a £500m package from the £3bn pledged for International Climate Finance on nature and biodiversity will be used to conserve five million hectares of rainforest. The UK Government is expecting this package to also leverage £1bn of private sector investment. There are also multi-million-pond allocations for sustainable forest supply chains in tropical countries; agriculture research; international biodiversity research and a Just Transition Fund to support farmers in developing nations.