Today, leaders in the global drive to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests announced a series of measures that show concrete progress is being made towards delivering on the Paris climate pledges and global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
More than a dozen initiatives from Africa to Indonesia to South America are demonstrating how climate mitigation and adaptation actions related to forests and agriculture are firmly anchored in the Nationally Determined Contributions of over 120 Parties to the Climate Convention. The announcement also comes only two years after the New York Declaration on Forests, an ambitious multi-stakeholder commitment to cut deforestation in half by 2020 and striving to end natural forest loss by 2030.
Forest Action Day at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference (COP 22) is part of the Global Climate Action Agenda, an initiative by France and Morocco to boost cooperative action between governments, cities, business, investors and citizens to cut emissions and help vulnerable nations adapt to climate impacts and build their own clean energy, sustainable futures.
“Conserving, restoring and managing forests is essential to meeting global sustainable development goals, including combating desertification and water security,” said Abdeladim Lhafi, High Commissioner for Water, Forests and the Fight against Desertification of Morocco, co-organizer of the event. “That is why the Moroccan government is announcing a new initiative “Strengthened Action in Favor of Forests in the Mediterranean-Sahel Region in the Context of Climate Change” (AFMS) to help countries meet multilateral commitments to forests, including the adaptation and mitigation actions under the Paris agreement, and facilitate climate change investments to Improve forest management and build the resilience of forest-dependent communities. .”
“Forests are one of the largest and most cost-effective responses we have to climate change,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), event co-organizer. “Countries, civil society, the private sector and indigenous peoples are working powerfully together to protect forests to limit global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
Healthier forests will not only help combat climate change but also contribute to many other global development goals by providing food, income, fuel and shelter, said René Castro Salazar, Assistant Director-General, Forestry, of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which also co-organized the event.
“The Zero Hunger goal of the SDGs cannot be achieved by 2030 without addressing climate change, and climate change cannot be addressed without managing the world’s forests in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Deforestation and forest degradation currently contribute up to 12 percent of carbon emissions – more than the entire transport sector combined. Yet, by halting deforestation and reducing and reversing forest degradation, forests could contribute significantly to the climate solution in the coming decades.