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One hundred world leaders pledges to end deforestation by 2030

By Anjali Sharma

UNITED NATIONS – Over one hundred countries world leaders have pledged to end deforestation by 2030 by halting and reversing deforestation is “one of the most important things the world can do to limit catastrophic global warming, they stated at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow.

British Prime Minister’s office said in a press release issued that leaders of over 100 countries represented nearly 85 per cent of the world’s forests will commit to end deforestation by 2030 under the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.

Boris Johnson hosted a COP26 Forests and Land Use event at the COP26 summit, to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The press release said that “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 the Prime Minister at COP26 today. The pledge is backed by almost £14 billion ($19.2 billion) in public and private funding.”

The statement from the conference’s host added that “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,” noting that these countries represent 85% of the world’s forests.

According to the press release, halting and reversing deforestation is “one of the most important things the world can do to limit catastrophic global warming, since “23 per cent of global emissions come from land-use activity, such as logging, deforestation, and farming.”

It stressed that land clearance has accelerated in recent years as soy, cocoa and palm oil producers expand export markets. Industrial development is largely suspected to be behind wildfires that destroyed swathes of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil between 2019 and August of this year.

Master of Ceremony Sandrine Dixson-Declève, who welcomed participants to the key Leaders Event on Forest and Land Use at COP26 declared “Today is going to be a monumental day, we are setting the tone of how we can preserve the lungs of the world.”

“By destroying forests, we are harming biodiversity and our lives. Forests provide fresh water, clean the air we breathe, inspire spiritual value, and provide us with food. Our challenge now must be to halt restoration and beginning to restore forests. It is a huge undertaking, and every country will need their own table approach.”

His unmistakable voice resonated throughout venue. And his call to action was heard.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “Protecting our forest is not only a course of action for tackling climate change but also for a more prosperous future,” he said.

He higlighted that China, Russia and Brazil have also joined the promise, which he believed could be also a ‘parallel’ opportunity for job creation.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, Brazil’s, Jair Bolsonaro, appeared in a pre-recorded message supporting the pledge, among other leaders absent from the COP.

UN Secretary General António Guterres urged on his official twitter account “Signing the Declaration is the easy part. It is essential that it is implemented now for people and the planet.”

The text also noted the empowerment of local communities, including indigenous peoples, which are often negatively affected by the exploitation and degradation of forests.

The Declaration aimed to implement and redesign agricultural policies and programmes to reduce hunger and benefit the environment.

Finance is a key on the pledge, as leaders promised to facilitate the alignment of financial flows with international goals to reverse loss and degradation, while ensuring policies to accelerate a transition to a greener economy.

Roughly 40 times more finance flowed into destructive land-use practices rather than forest protection, conservation and sustainable agriculture.

The commitment signed by over 30 financial institutions covering over $8.7 trillion of global assets under management seeks to change that. It aims to move away from portfolios that invest in high deforestation-risk agricultural commodity supply chains and towards sustainable production.

President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, joined Boris Johnson announced that 28 countries,

represented 75 per cent of global trade in key products that threaten forests such as palm oil and cocoa, have committed to a set of actions to deliver sustainable trade.

“Guilt-free chocolate!” Boris Johnson said as he noted that the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Roadmap for Action is a new partnership between governments of major producer and consumer countries to break the link between deforestation and agricultural commodities.

Roadmap will accelerate actions that incentivise sustainability in the supply chain, support smallholder farmers to participate in markets, improve transparency of supply chains, and drive new technology and innovation. Read more about the so-called FACT process here.

The COP26 co-hosts presented the Congo Basin Pledge, which has been signed by over 10 countries, the Bezos Earth Fund and the European Union to mobilize $1.5 billion to protect forests, peatlands and other critical carbon stores.

“The Congo Basin is the heart and lung of the African continent, we cannot win the battle against climate change if we do not keep the Basin standing”, declared Gabonese President, Ali Bongo Ondimba.

According to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the initiative is a part of the new global forest finance pledge of over $12 billion.

He said “The biggest collective commitments of public funds for climate action in history. Let’s end this great global chainsaw massacre”, he said.

President Biden said that his country was committed to ensure free water, maintain biodiversity, protect indigenous communities and reduce the risk of spreading disease.

He added that 20 million hectares of forest land is already being restored and that the US is announcing a new plan to support the halt of deforestation and restoring carbon sinks.

“We need to approach this issue with the same seriousness as decarbonizing our economies. That's what we're doing in the United States”, he said.

Biden noted that billions of dollars would be mobilized.

He added that the US aims to support the restoration of 200 million hectares of forest by 2030. “The plan is the first of its kind”.

President Ivan Duque of Colombia promised to protect 30 per cent of his country’s territory by 2022.

“We can’t wait until 2030, we must act now to protect our forests”, he said, gaining an ovation of the room for one of the most ambitious promises presented at COP26.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said “Nature is beautiful, but it is also fragile. I was reminded of this in July when I went into space with Blue Origin. I was told seeing the earth from space changes the lens through which you view the world, but I was not prepared for just how much that would be true.”

Bezos Earth Fund pledged an additional $2 billion in funding to help restore nature and transform food systems. The Fund had pledged another $1 billion earlier in September.

“Will we in this room work together to gift our children and grandchildren the improvement of the natural world? I know the answer is yes... and I look forward to working together on this important journey”, Bezos said.

The Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chacho will announce $3 billion to accelerate deforestation and conversion-free soy and cattle production in South America.

The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Natural Capital Investment Alliance, an organization founded by HRH the Prince of Wales to boost private investment in natural capital, announced 12 new members and plans to mobilize $10 billion in private capital by the end of 2022.

An initial $1 billion of public and private funds will be secured through the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance Coalition which includes big companies such as Delta, PWC, Airbnb, and Unilever.

This will provide funding to countries that successfully reduce emissions from deforestation, provided those reductions have been independently verified and confirmed. Finance will be provided by companies already committed to emissions cuts in their own supply chains.

A joint statement from 9 multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, was presented in support of all the investments and transitions announced.

They commit to mainstream nature in their investments and in policy dialogue with countries.

Over 1.6 billion people worldwide rely on forests for their livelihoods, and indigenous peoples are the custodians of at least 36 per cent of the world’s large, intact forests. Evidence showed that when local people are empowered to manage forests they are better protected and managed.

Several indigenous leaders from various part of the world reacted to the Glasgow Forest and Land Pledge during the event.

Tuntiak Katak, vice coordinator of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin said that we will be looking for concrete evidence of a transformation in the way funds are invested.

If 80 per cent of what is proposed is directed to supporting land rights and the proposals of Indigenous and local communities, we will see a dramatic reversal in the current trend that is destroying our natural resources”, said

“We are ready to act, and we will work together, we won’t drown. We are all traveling in the same canoe of the river basin”, he emphasized.


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