NYDF Discusses Limited Progress in Halting, Reversing Deforestation
Photo by Luis Del Río Camacho
story highlights

An NYDF report largely concludes that progress on ending deforestation and restoring forestland has not lived up to the high level of ambition enshrined in the Declaration's ten goals.

A stocktaking event noted that the NYDF goals are still valid and require greater and more concerted efforts, with more multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Success stories should be promoted and learned from, while transformational change is needed to address institutional and market failures.

22 September 2019: On the sidelines of the Climate Action Summit, the NY Declaration on Forests (NYDF) Assessment Partners organized an event to reflect on the Declaration’s achievements since its inception in 2014. The event, which took stock of progress and discussed challenges, highlighted innovative areas of action and addressed the need for action to 2020 and beyond. It was organized by the Global Platform for the NYDF and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Germany.

The event coincided with the release of a five-year assessment report subtitled, ‘Protecting and Restoring Forests: A Story of Large Commitments yet Limited Progress.’ The report largely concludes that progress on ending deforestation and restoring forestland has not lived up to the high level of ambition enshrined in the NYDF’s ten goals. These goals would mean halving tropical deforestation by 2020 and ending it by 2030, in addition to restoring 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. The summary for policymakers notes that “there is little evidence that these goals are on track, and achieving the 2020 NYDF targets is likely impossible.”

There is little evidence that these goals are on track, and achieving the 2020 NYDF targets is likely impossible.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Minister for Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, opened the event, noting that progress in reversing deforestation will not be achieved until institutional failures and market failures are addressed.

Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, BMU, highlighted that while Norway, Germany, and the UK are on-track for meeting their financial pledge under the Declaration, it is not enough and other governments, financial institutions, and the private sector need to join in and coordinate efforts to bring in more finance, address supply chain practices, and promote sound policies in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Speakers recommended, inter alia: improving productivity on current non-forested lands; improving governance, including incentives; converting low-yielding land back into forests; and seeking transformative shifts in land use. They stressed the importance of changing commodity chains, increasing consumer awareness, and bringing indigenous people in forest regions on board. Discussants also underscored the need to address not just the Amazon, but also the Congo Basin and Indonesia.

The event featured discussions on a number of related reports and initiatives. Jamison Ervin, UN Development Programme (UNDP), reviewed the NYDF Endorser Perspectives Report, and noted its recommendations to ensure strong governance at local levels and to clarify and resolve land-tenure rights, among others. Frans Timmermans, First Vice President, European Commission, outlined proposals for an EU initiative on deforestation, including by strengthening international cooperation to halt deforestation and promote restoration. Lee White, Minister for Forests, Sea, the Environment, and Climate Plan, Gabon, announced that Gabon and Norway would sign an agreement on REDD+ that would increase the per ton price of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) avoided from US$5 to US$10, and Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches (WCC), discussed the launch of the Faiths for Forests Initiative to promote understanding of the moral and spiritual dimension of fighting deforestation. [ENB side event coverage of NYDF leadership event] [Publication: Progress on the New York Declaration on Forests: Protecting and Restoring Forests]


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