World leaders pledge to stop deforestation

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More than 100 world leaders will pledge on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030, while 30 financial institutions are expected to pledge to eliminate the nefarious practice from their portfolios by 2025.

In what is billed as one of the important first steps of the COP26 summit in Glasgow, leaders of countries that are home to more than 85% of the world’s forests will join in a declaration to end legal and illegal destruction of drink. How the undertaking will be applied remains uncertain.

Countries, including Australia, Colombia, Indonesia and the United States, will pledge to “work collectively to stop and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while ensuring sustainable development and promoting inclusive rural transformation ”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hail the declaration as a “historic deal”. Climate experts said the commitments would mark a shift in the seriousness with which deforestation – a major source of carbon emissions – is treated internationally and in the private sector.

Justin Adams, managing director of the Tropical Forest Alliance, said the commitments would mean “the greatest time we’ve had in forests and nature, probably ever. . . that’s going to be something that we’ll look back on and say that’s where we started to turn the tide.

The high-level declaration is seen as a key first step, although it does not outline details such as how progress will be assessed and what might happen if countries do not implement it.

Although Brazil is among the signatories, President Jair Bolsonaro – under whom deforestation has risen sharply – pledged in April to halt deforestation by 2030, shortly before slashing the budget for enforcement. environmental laws.

Matt Williams, head of the climate and land program for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the declaration would be “one of the first major outcomes of the United Nations climate summit.”

Details of how the engagement will work in practice could emerge in the coming days following the “negotiations and dialogue” that have taken place “behind the scenes in recent months,” he added.

With the aim of setting standards for sustainable supply chains, 28 governments will also endorse a new ‘road map for action’ on forests, agriculture and commodity trade.

More details on how trade policies could be used to curb the import of harmful-produced goods are promised later this week.

Simon Lewis, professor of science of global change at University College London, welcomed the news but added that “careful monitoring of the implementation of each initiative is essential for success”.

Private sector engagement, meanwhile, will see more than 30 financial institutions that collectively manage nearly $ 9 billion in assets, including Aviva and Schroders, commit to removing forest destruction from their investment portfolios. and loan by 2025.

It’s “something we couldn’t even have dreamed of two years ago,” Adams said.

The commitment – which will be dominated by investors and asset managers rather than banks – will involve signatories pledging to disclose “deforestation risk and mitigation activities” in their portfolios by 2023. and report publicly on their progress.

They will also call on policymakers and regulators to act to end illegal logging and “if necessary” to curb legal deforestation.

Nonprofits have repeatedly criticized the private sector for facilitating businesses related to the practice.

The government’s commitment will be backed by $ 12 billion in overseas development funding from 12 countries, including the UK, US, Germany and Japan, between 2021 and 2025 to help countries to protect and restore their forests. This will include $ 1.5 billion to protect the Congo Basin, which is home to the second largest tropical rainforest in the world.

Five governments and 17 philanthropic groups are also pledging $ 1.7 billion, below a target of $ 2 billion, to support indigenous peoples in forest protection, including helping communities secure land rights.

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