Forest Initiatives Announced in Bonn Target Sustainable Management, Emissions Reductions
Among other forest-related announcements at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, stakeholders launched the Global Platform for the New York Declaration on Forests, and national REDD+ strategies for Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. The Conference's ‘Forests Day,' held on 12 November, featured, announcements from the governments of Ecuador and Gabon and the companies of Walmart and Mars Inc. on efforts to cut emissions from forest use and pursue sustainable forest management.
As a backdrop and according to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use accounted for about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010, second only to energy. About half of these emissions are attributable to deforestation and forest degradation, while the rest come primarily from crops and livestock. More ambitious reductions of emissions arising from land and forest use are needed to achieve the linked goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is therefore encouraging that over 90% of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) submitted under the Paris Agreement include agriculture, forests and food systems as key elements of national efforts to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects. The role of indigenous peoples, particularly indigenous women, in preserving traditional knowledge, including the contribution of native plants in water and forest management, was also highlighted during the meeting. Indigenous peoples' representatives noted, for instance, their contribution to Peru's national contribution regarding protecting the watershed. It was also suggested that agroforestry is one of the land uses with the most potential to fulfill commitments set out in nationally developed contributions.
Forests Day, which convened during COP 23 on 12 November 2017, underscored that healthy forests provide services that are essential for humans to thrive and protect themselves from extreme climatic impacts. In particular, forests provide water and food security and regulate global rainfall patterns. This also makes forests essential for the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing a window of opportunity for a "triple win" of eliminating deforestation, boosting agricultural productivity, and reducing poverty. Forests Day featured announcements from countries and corporations to cut emissions from forest use and promote sustainable forest management. Initiatives featured included: Ecuador's initiative to reduce 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions in the forest sector; Gabon's operations to halt illegal logging that will stop the emission of 20 million tonnes of CO2; a commitment to deforestation-free commodities by Walmart; and Mars Inc.'s new policy to reduce their carbon footprint 27% by 2025 and 67% by 2050 by addressing deforestation throughout their corporate value chain. High-level panel speakers at the event included Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji; Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary; Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Head of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Global Climate and Energy Programme; and Jerry Brown, Governor of California, who ended the Day with a call for urgent, scaled-up forest protection as a major part of the solution to climate change.
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