Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN Development Programme (UNDP), Forest Action Day took place on 8 November 2016 during UNFCCC COP 22 in Marrkech, Morocco. Forest Action Day included a keynote speech from FAO Director-General José Graziano Da Silva, followed by three sessions on: forests in the implementation of the Paris Agreement; South-South cooperation, success stories and experience exchange; and major initiatives by stakeholders. This event builds on Forest Action Day that took place during COP 21 in Paris, France.
With COP 22 positioned as the COP of “action and solutions,” the Forest Action Day showcase segment presented initiatives that demonstrate momentum and progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. The presentations included progress made on previous commitments as well as new and innovative actions involving state and non-state stakeholders. Given the focus and location of COP 22, special attention was given to highlighting advances in Africa, including on climate change adaptation, although broader global stories were also represented.
Building on the earlier showcase Forest Action Day segment, there was a “Dialogue on Forests” that addressed key questions drafted by organizers through a multi-stakeholder discussion among state and non-state actors on the path forward. The dialogue focused on identifying solutions, new approaches and policy options that could help overcome challenges and advance further, based on, among others, lessons learned from initiatives generated through the climate action agenda.
SESSION 1: FOREST ACTION DAY
This session was moderated by Charles McNeill, UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Ambassador Laurence Tubiana, France, highlighted the importance of forests for mitigation and adaptation. She noted the forest sector contributes 11% to global emissions. Noting the New York Declaration on Forests to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020, and strive to end it by 2030, she stressed the need to be consistent with Paris Agreement and reach the goal of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C. Tubiana highlighted the importance of community to work together and showcase their stories. She also underscored the role of indigenous people and said that she would present the outcomes of Forest Action Day to the COP 22 High-Level Segment on the 17 November.
Abdeladim Lhafi, High Commissioner for Forests, Morocco, urged for a more inclusive economy that does not leave anyone behind, by implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said forests are reservoirs of biodiversity, and called for the elaboration of a red list of threatened ecosystems. Lhafi noted that protection of water resources is crucial in climate change and food security. He said a new attitude is needed to be more proactive and manage land erosion and biodiversity, including new diseases, lack of water and forest health.
José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO, stressed that climate change needs to be addressed to combat hunger and sustainable forest management is the way forward to do so. Noting the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to one ton per capita by 2100, he called for improvements on land use, waste management and energy production. He noted that drylands and the tropics are the main challenges in the next decade. He said countries’ national determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement need to be implemented by focusing on small countries and small farmers that were left behind before and must be included at this time, despite high transaction costs.
PANEL 1: PROGRESS MADE ON FORESTS
Rosa Morales, Director of Climate Change, Government of Peru, moderated this session. Noting progress made by state and non-state entities, she highlighted the need to accelerate implementation and the importance of regional coordination and national ownership of forest policy.
Ivan Dario Valencia, Ministry of Environment, Colombia, noted the Amazon Vision Program of Colombia to reach zero net deforestation by 2010, the improvements on measuring, reporting and verification (MRV), and the way its country succeeded in overcoming the challenge of building sound financial mechanisms required by donors.
Wasantha Dissanayake, Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka, outlined the successes from the UN-REDD+ partnership in his country to increase Sri Lanka’s forest coverage to 32% by 2030. He noted the development of a robust national framework that engages with all stakeholders.
Melissa Miners, Director of Sustainable Development, Unilever, presented the progress on the company’s sustainability commitment to achieve zero net deforestation in the supply chain associated with four commodities – palm oil, soy, paper and board, and beef – no later than 2020.
Josefina Brana-Varela, WWF, highlighted the importance of civil society progress on forest protection and building partnerships with governments and the private sector through the New York Declaration on Forests, the Paris Agreement and SDGs. She welcomed increased transparency and new technologies to monitor forests and reduce scientific uncertainties.
PANEL 2: ADAPTATION AND RESILIENCE OF FORESTS AND SOCIETIES
Isilda Nhantumbo, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), moderated the session and called for “action beyond paper.”
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Co-Chair, International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change, highlighted the value of recognizing land rights and tenure for indigenous and forest peoples. She noted that adaptation is a crucial issue for human migration and traditional knowledge is one of the tools to build resilience.
Markku Kanninen, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), noted the importance of ecosystem services for water management and as a carbon sink. He advised participants to learn from the Adaptation Fund’s experiences when formulating new project under the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Olayide Olushola, African Union Commission, said that monitoring as an important tool to strengthen national forest sectors, the value chain, job creation and mobilization of financial resources. She noted the plan of action for the implementation of African regional strategy on disaster risk reduction to build resilience for climate change.
PANEL 3: CONCERTED ACTION BY STATE AND NON-STATE STAKEHOLDERS FOR EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT
Rodion Sulyandziga, Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), moderated this panel.
Rene Castro, FAO, highlighted the progress of the partnership between FAO and Google, started at COP 21 that combined FAO’s tools for remote sensing data with Google’s technology to save time and money when combating climate change. He said some of the results are available and any country can ask for a free-of-charge license to enhance the use of remote sensing in assisting with domestic decisions. Castro noted that the tools has been used to help eradicate pest and stop illegal activities and bushfires by identifying exactly where problems start so they can be dealt with before expanding.
Saah David Jr., Forest Development Authority, Liberia, noted workshops in West Africa on developing implementation frameworks in specific areas. He invited investors to go to Liberia to promote “sustainable businesses, not deforestation.”
Stewart Maginnis, Director of Forest and Climate Change Programme, IUCN, highlighted actions by countries, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to implement the “Bonn Challenge” of restoring 150 million hectares of the planet’s deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
Sisilia Nurmala Dewi, Partnership for Peatland Restoration Agency, Indonesia, said that more than 50% of the massive forest fires in 2015 happened in peatlands, and noted government efforts to restore two million hectares of peatland in seven provinces over five years.
PANEL 4: UNLOCKING SUSTAINABLE FINANCING
James Close, Director for Climate Change, World Bank, moderated this panel.
Abderrahim Houmy, Secretary General of the High Commissioner for Water, Forests and the Fight Against Desertification, Morocco, outlined the new Moroccan initiative on “Strengthened Action for forests in the Mediterranean Region and the Sahel in the Context of Climate Change,” noting the importance of partnerships to implement actions in the two areas.
Victor Kabengele, National REDD+ Focal Point, Democratic Republic of Congo, explained how forest protection and sustainable development has been accelerated by the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) work on preparing for forest result-based payments and financial issues.
Frank Fass-Metz, Climate Director, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, highlighted the work carried out by Germany, Norway and the UK to catalyze implementation of the New York Declaration on Forests and the Paris Agreement and to scale up technical assistance and capacity building for countries to help supply chains become deforestation free. He welcomed the GCF decision to move forward with implementation of a results-paid fund for REDD+.
Marco Albani, Director of Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, noted the role of private finance in accelerating country-level action to protect forests and improve livelihoods. He welcomed private sector’s changed relationship with supply-chain actors in palm oil, timber, paper and pulp. He said that public finance should create enabling conditions for investments to flourish by mitigating risks faced by first movers, elaborating rules to ensure that sustainable intensification of production does not increase deforestation.
Cristina Garcia, Ministry of Environment, Ecuador, noted that the REDD+ process in Ecuador was long and civil society played a crucial role in putting social and environmental safeguards into place to protect landscape.
Closing remarks: Charles McNeill, UNDP, closed the Forest Action Day at 4:05 p.m., and invited participants to the next session, Dialogue on Forests.
SESSION 2: DIALOGUE FORESTS
Mohamed Badraoui, Director General of the National Agricultural Research Institute (INRA), introduced the objectives and questions to be addressed by participants, and moderated the dialogue.
TOPIC 1: SCALING UP PROGRESS ON FORESTS
Badraoui presented the two key questions for participants to answer: what are key factors for success in the fight against climate change with regard to forests?; and what is needed to catalyze/accelerate action in the forest sector in a way that contributes to achieving forest related NDCs, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation?
Participants noted the need to: avoid climate change impacts while preserving the ability of forests to provide ecosystem services; prioritize adaptation while continuing with other actions; avoid forests being replaced with monoculture plantations; set consistent finance that applies to all sectors; pay more attention to small tenures and local communities to improve their livelihoods and reverse deforestation. Some participants noted, inter alia, the importance of ownership in sustainable forest management (SFM), that land use planning is key to understanding resources and that degraded land that can be owned by a community with a multiuse landscape in which forests and agriculture can be combined. Other participants noted the need to empower local communities and secure land tenure for them to help combat climate change
TOPIC 2: ADAPTATION AND RESILIENCE OF FORESTS AND SOCIETIES
Badraoui read the key questions for this topic: what is needed, in concrete action, to increase the resilience of forest ecosystems in Africa?; and what are key factors for successful governance or tenure reforms that contribute to combatting climate change, particularly to strengthen resilience and adaptation?
Participants highlighted the following issues: the importance of good governance and successful management; the need to promote the connectivity of forests and conserve ecosystem functions; ways to ensure protection of forests in their various dimensions, combating forest fires, and increasing forest health. A few participants noted the need to pay attention to land and ecosystem restoration and avoid land degradation which undermine the resilience of community and agricultural land. One participant highlighted the need for political recognition of climate change as a factor that increases threats to human health and diseases. Participants noted the difficulties to manage public and collective forests, saying that the FAO/Google partnership could help.
TOPIC 3: INTEGRATING FORESTS AND OTHER LAND USES
Moderator Badraoui outlined the key questions to be addressed: how to promote (globally and nationally) more integrated approaches to land-use, combining mitigation and adaptation efforts?; and what are the conditions needed to promote partnership and alignment with state and non-state actors towards more ambitious NDCs?
A few participants expressed concern about collaboration with private sector and potential conflict of interest related to finance and limits to growth. Other participants noted that SDG implementation is a good opportunity to develop forest-integrated approaches and strategies. Many participants said that non-state actors are critical for forest solutions and to add value to forest commodities by changing incentives and breaking cycles. Some underscored the need for collaboration to overcome conflicts of interest among NGOs, private and public sectors and to well define each sector’s responsibilities.
Other participants asked for a better alignment of public subsidies regarding forest and agriculture. Many participants stressed the need for local, indigenous and forest peoples to be included in the elaboration of policies to protect their natural environment, reconstitute forests and harvest the benefits of such actions. Some participant highlighted the need to scale up land use change and forest actions, calling for more ambitions NDCs. A few participants underscored the need to integrate and share knowledge about ecosystems. A participant noted the need for further monitoring of public policy aims and accountability.
TOPIC 4: BROADENING AND SCALING UP FINANCE
Moderator Raoui asserted the key questions for this topic: what is the role of the financial sector in addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, to achieve the long-term sustainability of the climate regime?; how can state and non-state actors work together to scale up finance to support countries to meet SDG15 (life on land) and UNFCCC provisions related to forests and to make the shift towards a low carbon development world?; and how to scale up financing for forest-related adaptation efforts, especially in Africa?
Participants said that in many countries agriculture is the driving force behind deforestation and that climate-friendly solutions are needed for the private and public sector to work together to avoid deforestation. Many participants urged for inclusive finance for forest actions, and better dialogue with forest people. A few participants noted the importance of the carbon market as a financial mechanism and the use of payment for environmental services to foster restoration. Many participants highlighted that these economic instruments should not leave small landholders behind again.
Some participants said that financial instruments can help connect forests to consumers and markets including small holders and local communities. A participant noted the need for financial institutions to facilitate access to small holders and countries that need investment in the forest sector.
A participant stressed the need to encourage domestic generation of finance and the role of innovative finance in reducing pressure on forests.
Closing remarks: Moderator Raoui summarized the answers provides by participants in the four topics and drew the dialogue to an end at 6:32 p.m.