More than 100 global leaders are expected to sign the first major pact of COP26 later today (2 November), pledging to eliminate deforestation by 2030.
Leaders representing over 85% of the world’s forests will make a historic pledge to cease and reverse deforestation and land degradation.
The pact has been signed by the majority of countries that border the Amazon Rainforest, the world’s largest forest. Only Bolivia and Venezuela have refused to sign the promise, while Brazil (which contains the bulk of the Amazon) has done so.
Nearly €16.5 billion in public (€10.3 billion) and private (€6.24 billion) funds are backing the plan. The public funds will be donated by 12 nations, including the United Kingdom, between 2021 and 2025.
More than 30 financial organizations, including Aviva, Schroders, and Axa, are providing private sector capital. These businesses will also pledge to stop deforestation-related operations.
The funds will be used to support projects in underdeveloped nations, including helping to repair damaged land, combat wildfires, and assist Indigenous populations. The vow will be referred to as “a major accord to safeguard and restore the earth’s forests” by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is expected to declare during the ceremony, “These huge teeming ecosystems — these temples of nature – are the lungs of our globe.” “Forests provide for communities, livelihoods, and food security, as well as absorbing the carbon we emit into the atmosphere.” They are necessary for our survival.
“With today’s extraordinary commitments, we will have the opportunity to put a stop to humanity’s long history of conquering nature and instead become its custodian.”
However, some have pointed out that this new approach lacks accountability.
“While the Glasgow Declaration has an impressive list of signatories from forest-rich nations, big consumer markets, and financial centers,” says Jo Blackman, Global Witness’s Head of Forests Policy and Advocacy, “it risks being a reiteration of prior failed pledges if it lacks teeth.”
“If world leaders are serious about ending deforestation, they must follow up today’s declarations with a commitment to enact strong and binding national legislation that makes it unlawful for corporations and financial institutions to fuel deforestation,” she adds.
She mentions the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests, in which states pledged to reduce deforestation by half by 2020 and end it by 2030. We missed the 2020 deadline, and we’re on track to miss the 2030 deadline as well.
Why is it important to conserve forests?
Forests absorb over a third of global CO2 emissions, yet every minute, we lose an area the size of 27 football fields. Land-use activities such as logging, deforestation, and farming account for about a quarter of world emissions (23%). This is why preserving existing forests is more vital than planting new ones. Mitigating forestry loss and mitigating land degradation are critical for controlling catastrophic levels of global warming while also protecting the futures of the 1.6 billion people (almost a quarter of the world’s population) who rely on forests for their livelihoods.
“We need to strive towards a better global framework for climate investments,” says Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store. “We must cease forest loss this decade in order to ‘keep 1.5 degrees alive.'” More international assistance and incentives are needed to help tropical forest countries change their land-use policies.
“Until 2030, Norway will maintain and expand its International Climate and Forest Initiative at a high level, and we are happy to be a part of a growing coalition of donors and enterprises mobilizing to decrease deforestation and facilitate a fair rural transformation.
“I’m very delighted that we’re banding together to protect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and raise awareness of their responsibility as forest stewards.”
The pact will bring governments from every inhabited continent together to commit to addressing forest loss in a meaningful way.
“Indonesia is blessed as the world’s most carbon-rich country, with extensive rainforests, mangroves, seas, and peatlands,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said.
“For future generations, we are committed to safeguarding these crucial carbon sinks and our natural resources.
“We urge all nations to embrace long-term development options that improve the livelihoods of communities, particularly indigenous peoples, women, and smallholder farmers.”