PRESS RELEASE - Ministerial Forest Event - COP 22 Tues 15 November at 5.30pm

PRESS RELEASE - Ministerial Forest Event - COP 22 Tues 15 November at 5.30pm

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gary Decker | +1-202-716-9832 | gdecker [at]

Maryka Paquette | +1-619-517-4126 | maryka.paquette [at]


Ministers, Global Leaders:
Forests Actions Are Advancing Global Climate Goals

Marrakech, Morocco, 15 Nov. 2016 – Global, national, and civil society leaders and Ministers from around the world joined together at a high-level event today to announce the range of forest actions that are advancing global climate goals. From new national initiatives to landmark analysis of corporate commitments to coordinated regional efforts, halting and reversing tropical deforestation is demonstrating its enormous potential as a central climate solution.

“For the first time in history, there is consensus that accelerated action on protecting and restoring forests is essential to progress towards the Paris climate agreement,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. “And, as we move into a new era of cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to eradicate poverty, reduce disaster risk, spur green growth, and significantly reduce inequalities – it is increasingly clear that progress on forests is central to address these issues as well.”

Among the actions and initiatives highlighted at the high-level event:

  • Regional Platform for Sustainable Development of Oil Palm in Africa: The Africa Palm Oil Initiative (APOI), a signature initiative of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, is a platform for public private collaboration working across 10 West and Central African countries. Over the last two years, APOI has worked to foster the transition the palm oil sector to a sustainable driver of long-term, low-carbon development in the region in a way that is socially beneficial and protects tropical forests through a collaborative multi stakeholder effort. On the 16th of November during COP 22, we will see an important announcement on the sustainable palm oil sector from governments of the region who have been working with APOI and its key partners in civil society and business.
  • A Moratorium on Indonesian Peat: Forests on peat lands in Indonesia have been cleared rapidly over the past two decades to make way for oil palm plantations and other uses. This has generated very high greenhouse gas emissions as the underground peat contains many times as much carbon as is contained in the above-ground vegetation. Indonesia’s declared moratorium and peatland restoration commitment - to restore 2 million hectares of peat land over the next 5 years – is a highly globally significant pledge in terms of land use emissions reductions.
  • Landmark Brazilian Progress. In the Brazilian Amazon, deforestation fell 78% between 2004 and 2015. The country was also the first country to comply with the requirements to receive payments for REDD+ results and to obtain the official endorsement of the Secretariat of the Convention for the results of emission reduction in the Amazon, from 2006 to 2010, for a total of 2.91 Gigatonnes of CO2. The country is continuing these efforts, strengthening command and control measures and at the same time programs and initiatives that provide viable and sustainable economic alternatives to the 25 million citizens who live in the region and that recognize the economic and social value of forest resources. Brazil has committed to restore and reforest 12 million hectares of forests by 2030, for multiple purposes, to restore an additional 15 million hectares of degraded pasturelands and to enhance 5 million hectares of integrated cropland-livestock-forestry systems by 2030.
  • Ongoing Action by Donor Country Leaders: In recent years, the Governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom have worked closely together on REDD+. They are partnering with Colombia to implement an ambitious package of cross-sectoral actions and strengthen self-governance of ethnic territories, towards a goal of zero net deforestation in the amazon by 2030. These three donor countries are also continuing to work with Indonesia, and are supporting the Central African Forest Initiative – which has taken a major step over the past year with the signing of a US $200 million Letter of Intent to support REDD+ and responsible and inclusive development investments.
  • First Analysis of Forest Goal Implementation Finds Notable Progress, and More Needed: The 2014 New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) Progress Assessment shows significant action since 2014, when hundreds of governments, indigenous groups, companies and NGOs endorsed the landmark goal to protect forests and end natural forest loss by 2030. This first analysis shows that the number of commitments related to reducing deforestation continues to rise, with over 700 worldwide. However, policy action and government support is needed for serious implementation.
  • Companies moving from commitments to actions for deforestation-free commodities. Created in 2012, the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) has contributed to progress in the private sector towards the NYDF goals, resulting in over 400 companies working in forest risk-supply chains to commit to deforestation-free commodities, a 300% increase since TFA 2020 was founded. In the palm oil and wood products sector these commitments have been adopted by well over half of the companies operating in the sector. Demonstrating leadership in the move from commitment to implementation, all of the corporate members of TFA 2020 have a 100% record in adopting operational standards for procurement and production to address deforestation. These corporations are also pioneering innovative partnerships with civil society, farmers unions, and local governments to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and the inclusion of smallholders in their supply chains.  A true market transformation is clearly on the way, and partners of the TFA 2020 and signers of the NYDF are leading the way.

“Unless we succeed in halting deforestation and massively increasing forest restoration, we will not reach our climate goals, and we will not reach our sustainable development goals,” said Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and the Environment for Norway. “Forests are not a peripheral part of the climate agenda – it is an indispensable part of the solution. Relative to their importance, they are under-focused and underfunded.”

“I am pleased to see that the contribution that forests make for mitigation and adaptation to climate change is becoming a serious feature of global efforts. But the size of the challenge requires us all to do our part, and to work in collaboration not isolation,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Leader of WWF International’s Climate & Energy Practice and former President of COP 20. “WWF has already been working to make the difference for forests and climate, partnering with national, regional and local governments, Indigenous Peoples, businesses and other organisations, and we stand ready to do more.”

“Brazil has already taken the lead in creating a low carbon economy, mainly due to the control of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” said José Sarney Filho, Minister of Environment for Brazil. “There, the annual deforestation rate has plummeted from 27,772 km² in 2004 to 6,207 km² in 2015, which means a reduction of 78% in 10 years. Our continuing efforts to tackle illegal deforestation in the Amazon region are enhanced by the adoption of the national REDD+ strategy and by the Amazon Fund, thanks to a strong partnership with Norway and Germany.”

“Hosting rich natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo strives to reconcile its economic and human development with the preservation of its resources,” said H.E. Robert Bopolo Mbongenza, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “To realize the full potential of its forest, the world’s second largest tropical forest basin, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo adopted an ambitious REDD+ Strategy in 2012 and a subsequent REDD+ Investment Plan. The REDD+ agenda now underpins the sustainable development agenda of the country. With the support of the Central Africa Forests Initiative (CAFI), the DRC conducts the necessary transformational reforms and investments to foster sustainable land use and management.”

“In the same way that our feet are connected to the ground, our lives are connected to the forests,” said Caroline Olory, community representative from Ekuri Initiative, Nigeria. "Safeguarding them is all we have ever done. Our rights need to be recognized and respected so we can continue the work entrusted to us by our ancestors before us and our children after us.”

“We need action on commodities with the biggest forest impacts, and an increase in partnerships between companies and governments, and among retailers, traders and producers,” said Charlotte Streck, Co-founder and Director of Climate Focus, a climate change think tank that led development of the 2016 NYDF Progress Assessment. “Ultimately, it is not pledges, but realizing those pledges that will end deforestation. More action by both public and private sector players—and sooner—is needed to have a meaningful impact on deforestation by 2020 and to ultimately end it by 2030.”

“Public-private collaboration platforms, such as Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, are proving that they can accelerate the transition to deforestation-free supply chains, by fostering innovative partnerships, as in the case of the Africa Palm Oil Initiative,” said Marco Albani, Director of TFA 2020. “Working together, government, business, and civil society can both foster the production of deforestation-free commodities and create inclusive and sustainable development at the forest frontier.”


*Note: REDD+ is a framework of policies and incentives agreed by the UNFCCC for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.