COP 22 Forests and Climate Update: Increasing Forests’ Contribution to Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
UN Photo/Eva Fendiaspara
story highlights

Conservation, sustainable management and restoration of forests are considered one of the most efficient and cost-effective responses to climate change.

The Forest Action Day showcased best practices, and identified challenges and opportunities for increased contributions of conservation and sustainable management of forests to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and for scaling up the necessary financing mechanisms.

Other events showcased linkages between climate, forest and land-related global goals, as well as tools on assessment and monitoring.

18 November 2016: Conservation, sustainable management and restoration of forests are considered one of the most efficient and cost-effective responses to climate change. A series of events convened during the UN Climate Change Conference, held from 7-18 November 2016, in Marrakesh, Morocco, reviewed progress regarding implementation of global forest-related commitments, identified linkages, challenges and opportunities for increased contribution of forests to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and showcased best practices and tools to strengthen synergies and improve implementation of forest- and climate-related commitments.

Forest Action Day Showcases Initiatives to Implement Paris Agreement, SDGs

Convened on 8 November 2016, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Morocco, the Forest Action Day provided an opportunity to bring together state and non-state actors – governments, businesses, civil society groups, and indigenous peoples’ organizations – to review progress, and identify challenges and opportunities for increased contributions of conservation and sustainable management of forests to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Day also focused on streamlining and scaling up the necessary financing mechanisms. It was part of the Global Climate Action Agenda, an initiative by France and Morocco to boost cooperative action to cut emissions and help vulnerable nations adapt to climate impacts and ensure sustainability in their energy sector.

Several initiatives were announced during the event. Morocco announced a new initiative on ‘Strengthened Action in Favor of Forests in the Mediterranean-Sahel Region in the Context of Climate Change,’ to help countries meet multilateral commitments on forests and facilitate investments to improve forest management and build the resilience of forest-dependent communities. Indonesia announced a moratorium on clearing super-high-carbon intact peatland. The public-private partnership Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 showcased the African Palm Oil Initiative, which engages nine African countries, including Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone, in the transition of the palm oil sector towards sustainable development through development of regional and national principles, and plans for sustainable oil palm development and regional cross-learning. Brazil presented its Forest Code, and the multi-stakeholder ‘Produce, Conserve, Include’ strategy in Mato Grosso, aiming to simultaneously reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 90% by 2030, increase agricultural production and promote socioeconomic inclusion of smallholders and traditional populations. A new partnership between FAO and Google has created Collect Earth, an open-source tool that provides access to large collections of free, high-resolution satellite imagery and cloud computing, enabling countries to produce fast and cost-effective land use and land-use change estimates. [IISD RS Summary of Forest Action Day] [FAO Webpage on Forest Action Day] [UNFCCC Press Release] [UN News Centre Release]

Events Explore Linkages and Tools to Advance Climate, Forest, Land Goals

Exploring the linkages and ensuring consistency in action towards achievement of different global goals was a theme emerging from a series of events. A ministerial event on advancing global forest and climate goals organized by UNDP on 15 November 2016, aimed to build awareness of how vital forests are to the success of the Paris Agreement, and highlighted examples of recent action and successes in addressing deforestation and forest degradation, as well as progress towards the achievement of the goals of the New York Declaration on Forests. Particular focus was devoted to the private sector goal of implementing zero deforestation commodity supply chain commitments by 2020. The event gathered global, national and civil society leaders from around the world. During her opening remarks, UNDP’s Helen Clark highlighted that, “For the first time in history, there is strong consensus around the proposition that protecting and restoring forests is essential for addressing climate change and advancing sustainable development.” [UNDP Helen Clark’s Speech] [Climate Focus Press Release]

The New York Declaration on Forests Assessment Coalition, a broad coalition of civil society and research organizations, has released its annual Progress Assessment of the Declaration. Drawing on and consolidating data from 12 initiatives by think tanks and research organizations engaged in monitoring forest commitments, and incorporating insight from original interviews with corporate sustainability officers, this year’s assessment focuses on Goal 2 of the New York Declaration, which calls on companies to end deforestation associated with the production of key agricultural commodities. Providing the most comprehensive assessment of corporate supply chain commitments to date, the report shows that the global supply-chain movement continues to gain momentum with an increase in pledges and some progress on implementation. It further notes however that the overall impact on forests is currently impossible to assess, and any analytical effort is also burdened by scattered data and multiple and overlapping definitions. A second report released provides updates on all ten goals of the Declaration. [2016 Assessments]

A new monitoring tool was presented, with focus on forest restoration. On 14 November, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with the German Government launched InfoFLR, an online portal with in-depth information on forest landscape restoration. InfoFLR will also host the results of IUCN’s Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress, a new tool to monitor the implementation of restoration commitments. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. Achieving the 350 million hectare goal could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent annually. InfoFLR will feature information on more than 90 countries, including domestic targets, policies and programmes related to restoration, as well as how restoration is dealt with in those countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). [IUCN Press Release] [InfoFLR Website]

A high-level side-event on ‘Joining Forces to Achieve SDG15: Delivering on the Global Agenda for Forests, Climate and Development,’ was co-hosted by FAO, UNDP, UN Environment, the UN-REDD Programme and the World Bank Group, on 16 November. Attracting diverse stakeholders, the event highlighted best practices and lessons learned with the objectives to: showcase how initiatives in land-use sectors, especially REDD+ implementation, can be catalytic in strengthening efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by presenting flagship joint initiatives; strategize the way forward on the agriculture–forestry nexus in the context of deforestation and delivering on SDG15 and other SDGs; and discuss how the momentum created by the adoption of Paris Agreement can be leveraged to scale up funding for land use sectors. [IISD RS Coverage] [REDD+ Related Events at COP 22]

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