The 'New York Declaration on Forests', as announced at the Climate Summit 2014, pledges to halve the rate of deforestation by 2020, halt the loss of natural forests by 2030, and restore 350 million hectares of degraded areas.
Twenty-seven developed and developing countries, 34 companies, 16 indigenous peoples organizations, and 45 non governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) have endorsed the Declaration.
23 September 2014: The ‘New York Declaration on Forests’, as announced at the Climate Summit 2014, pledges to halve the rate of deforestation by 2020, halt the loss of natural forests by 2030, and restore 350 million hectares of degraded areas. Twenty-seven developed and developing countries, 34 companies, 16 indigenous peoples’ organizations, and 45 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) have endorsed the Declaration.
The Declaration seeks to address the annual loss of millions of hectares of forests, mitigate the 20% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the loss of trees and other biomass, and continue to deliver economic benefits from the sustainable management of forests.
According to the UN, the initiative could avoid between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2030. Speaking on the Declaration, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said, “Forests are not only a critical part of the climate solution – they hold multiple benefits for all members of society,” and noted that “The New York Declaration aims to reduce more climate pollution each year than the United States emits annually.”
There are ten points in the Declaration covering deforestation and restoration targets as well as calls for the inclusion of forests in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), strengthened forest governance, adequate financing for verified emission reductions, and the promotion of sustainable and equitable approaches to poverty alleviation.
The Declaration also suggests specific actions for governments, companies and business associations, indigenous peoples, CSOs and multilateral institutions. It puts forth ideas for collaborative action such as support for REDD+, sustainability criteria for commodity sectors, and the recognition of rights and development of income opportunities for indigenous peoples.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda and several other countries are set to make national pledges to restore more than 30 million hectares of degraded lands. The Declaration also includes action pledges from indigenous peoples’ organizations, donors and the private sector. For example, the Governments of Germany, Norway and the UK promise more than US$ 1 billion in funding for REDD+, while Unilever committed to a deforestation-free supply chain by 2015. Indigenous leaders promise to reduce deforestation on their land and territories, amounting to more than 400 million hectares, and commodities traders call for improved public policies to combat deforestation.
Such commitments will be supported by international funds such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which, through the GEF-6 Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Strategy, will support countries in addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation with up to US$ 700 million in available funding. With regard to production forests, the GEF will provide up to US$45 million to improve the sustainability of forest product supply chains.
A number of other organizations are looking at the Declaration as a starting point for broader action. For example, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) notes that there is room to combine the political will generated by the Declaration and the “Joint Statement for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition” in order to promote the landscape approach. Accordingly, CIFOR suggests that further discussions on synergies and opportunities for collaborative action be explored, including at the Global Landscapes Forum.
The Declaration will remain open for signature until the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015. [New York Declaration on Forests – action statements and action plans] [Climate Summit 2014 – Action Area Forests] [UNFCCC Press Release] [GEF Press Release] [CIFOR Blog Post] [UN Press Release] [Global Landscapes Forum News] [UNEP Press Release] [UNCCD Press Release]