LIMA, Peru—Leaders—from an indigenous organizer to a judge to a CEO—at the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum outlined the steps needed between now and next year’s critical climate meeting in Paris if forests are to be a part of the solution to climate change.
And they are a vital part of that solution, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark told the opening plenary.
“A two-degree climate change scenario is not possible without making real progress on sustainable landscapes including in our forests,” she said.
The 2014 Global Landscapes Forum was organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
More than 1,700 people from 90 countries attended the event on the sidelines of the annual United Nations climate change conference in Lima, including country climate negotiators, ministers, CEOs, indigenous leaders, civil society leaders and researchers.
Clark said much has been achieved in the past year—from the New York Declaration on Forests, to the Rio Branco Declaration by the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, and the dozens of companies that pledged to remove deforestation from their supply chains.
But she added that more needs to be done by next year’s UN meeting in Paris, where countries aim to finalize a post-Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement.
“Developing forest countries need to put forward national mitigation policies which include ambitious goals to reduce forest loss and increase reforestation, and implement and enforce land use reforms,” she said.
2014 was the year in which many in the private sector stepped up to tackle deforestation. Can 2015 be the year governments step up to deliver the promise of REDD+?
“This will take very strong political will and leadership and the international community has to support these efforts.”
Advanced economies must deliver large-scale economic incentives for forest protection, she said, and make progress on REDD+—a UN-backed scheme aiming to incentivize tropical countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
“2014 was the year in which many in the private sector stepped up to tackle deforestation. Can 2015 be the year governments step up to deliver the promise of REDD+?” Clark said.
The private sector, she said, needs to move faster to eliminate deforestation from its supply chain—and bring many more commodities and companies on board.
And indigenous peoples must be empowered to protect forests, Clark said.
“Governments must formalize and enshrine their rights, and companies must respect their right to free, prior and informed consent.”
Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, also outlined the steps governments could take to help the private sector eliminate deforestation from supply chains.
“Whilst the private sector can undoubtedly disrupt markets, it is only with government policy that we can transform markets—and change the rules of the game for everyone,” he said.
He said tropical country governments need to clarify land tenure, improve transparency, protect the customary land rights of forest communities, strengthen the enforcement of forest laws and clamp down on illegal deforestation.
They should also increase cooperation with the private sector, he said.
This alignment of public and private incentives is one of the big wins within our grasp
“Such partnerships have the potential to deliver significant win-wins, guaranteed traceability for companies and increased investments for the states involved.”
“This alignment of public and private incentives is one of the big wins within our grasp.”
Developed countries have a role to play, too, according to Polman.
“They can strengthen the signals sent by the private sector for deforestation-free commodities, particularly through their procurement and trade policies. Very few actually do,” he said. “We need more ambition here and coherence.”
“We also need an end to perverse subsidies or incentives for damaging biofuels that drive forest destruction and threaten food security at the same time.
“And we need the international community to prioritize REDD+ by enabling large-scale, predictable and sustainable results-based financing for forest protection in a new climate agreement,” he said.
AN INDIGENOUS VIEW
Cándido Mezúa Salazar, Chairman of the National Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples of Panama, told the plenary session that indigenous peoples’ rights to land must be ensured in any global climate agreement.
“Around the world, forests are where indigenous peoples are living. So therefore we say we have some influence on the forests,” he said.
“But how can we manage this if we do not have clear rules? So we need to work on setting out clear rules that will help us to safeguard these rights.”
He also called for any distribution of benefits to be done equitably.
LESSONS FROM LAW AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin of Brazil’s National High Court spoke of the need to include judges in efforts to tackle deforestation and other environmental problems.
“Judges are the most powerful actor in the conservation process, but where are we in this debate?” he said.
“Judges can enforce the boundaries of protected areas or make their establishment illegal. They can shut down mining operations or impose rules on corporations. They can secure the land of indigenous people—or kick them out. And most importantly, they are the final arbiters of property rights.”
Judges need to be better trained to deal with environmental questions, he said.
“Law without good judges is a paper tiger. We need good, independent, ethical judges that are knowledgeable of ecological processes. This is probably the biggest challenge we have – how to make judges understand the laws of nature,” he said.
Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro, the President of WWF, said climate change mitigation and adaptation measures must also address development needs.
“We should restructure our institutions around landscapes. Integrated management requires new visions, new skills—at the project level or scaled up intervention. We must tackle the challenges holistically,” she said.
“Experience has shown that modifying patterns of work is not easy. But we have no choice. We all need to make that transition, break down silos, and create spaces for people to work across sectors.”