Over 100 world leaders gathered at Glasgow's COP26 Climate Summit have agreed Tuesday to do their utmost to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by the year 2030.
Around US $ 12bn of public funds will be committed to protect and restore forests, in addition to US $ 7.2 billion of private investment, it was agreed. These announcements were a part of an unprecedented package of economic and political commitments to end deforestation worldwide.
The British Prime Minister, HRH the Prince of Wales and leaders of Colombia, Indonesia and the United States were among those due to address the COP26 Forests & Land Use event Tuesday.
In the biggest step forward in protecting the world’s forests in a generation, more than 100 leaders will commit to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 at an event convened by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at COP26 Tuesday. The pledge is backed by almost US $19.2 in public and private funding.
Countries spanning from the northern forests of Canada and Russia to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will endorse the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use. Together, they make up for 85% of the world’s forests.
Forests absorbe around one-third of the global CO2 released from fuels burned every year. In other words, an area of forest the size of 27 football pitches is lost every minute.
The commitment will be supported by a pledge to provide US $12bn of public finance from 12 countries, including the UK, from 2021 – 2025. This will support activities in developing countries, including restoring degraded land, tackling wildfires and supporting the rights of indigenous communities. This will go alongside at least US $7.2 billion of private sector funding. CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion of global assets – including Aviva, Schroders and Axa – will also commit to eliminate investment in activities linked to deforestation.
“Colombia is proud to endorse the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. The Declaration is a landmark commitment from countries to work together to end deforestation and all land degradation within the next decade,” President Iván Duque said.
“Now we must all work in partnership with businesses, the finance sector, smallholder farmers, Indigenous Peoples and local communities to create the conditions for forest-positive economies to grow and thrive,” he added.
“Indonesia is blessed as the most carbon rich country in the world on vast rainforests, mangroves, oceans and peatlands. We are committed to protecting these critical carbon sinks and our natural capital for future generations,” President Joko Widodo pointed out.
“We call on all countries to support sustainable development paths that strengthen the livelihoods of communities - especially indigenous, women and smallholders,” he went on..
The UK will commit £1.5bn over five years to support the forests pledge, including £350m for tropical forests in Indonesia, and £200m for the LEAF Coalition, it was announced. The UK will also contribute £200m, alongside 11 other donors, as part of a new £1.1 billion ($1.5bn) fund to protect the Congo Basin. The area is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world which is threatened by industrial logging, mining and agriculture.
Governments representing 75% of global trade in key commodities that can threaten forests – such as palm oil, cocoa and soya – will also sign up to a new Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Statement. The 28 governments are committing to a common set of actions to deliver sustainable trade and reduce pressure on forests.
Currently almost a quarter (23%) of global emissions come from land use activity, such as logging, deforestation and farming. Protecting forests and ending damaging land use is one of the most important things the world can do to limit catastrophic global warming, while also protecting the lives and futures of the 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly 25% of the world’s population – who rely on forests for their livelihoods.
“We must work for an improved global framework for climate investments. To 'keep 1.5 degrees alive' we have to halt forest loss this decade. Tropical forest countries need more international support and incentives to transform their land use policies,” Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store explained.
“Norway will continue and further develop its International Climate and Forest Initiative at high levels until 2030, and we’re excited to be part of a growing coalition of donors and companies mobilising to reduce deforestation and enable a just rural transition. I am particularly pleased that we are joining forces to secure Indigenous Peoples’ rights and increase the recognition of their role as forest guardians,” he elaborated.