Countries unite to keep the forest promise

By Simon Jessop and Jake Spring

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) – More than 25 countries at the COP27 climate talks on Monday launched a group they say will ensure they hold each other accountable to the pledge to end to deforestation by 2030 and have announced billions of dollars to fund their efforts. .

The first meeting of the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, chaired by Ghana and the United States, comes a year after more than 140 leaders pledged at COP26 in Britain to end deforestation by the end of the decade.

Since then, progress has been uneven, with only a few countries implementing more aggressive deforestation and financing policies.

The new group – which includes Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Congo, the UK and others – represents around 35% of the world’s forests and aims to meet twice a year to monitor progress.

Notable omissions from the group are Brazil with its Amazon rainforest and the Democratic Republic of Congo whose vast forests are home to endangered wildlife, including gorillas.

“This partnership is a crucial next step in collectively delivering on that promise and helping to maintain the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C,” said Britain’s Alok Sharma, who chaired the U.S. COP talks. last year, in a press release.

Statements said around 22% of the $12 billion in public money pledged for forests by 2025, funds committed in Glasgow, had so far been disbursed.

Among new sources of funding, Germany said it would double its funding for forests to 2 billion euros ($1.97 billion) until 2025.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, also a member of the group, told the summit the country would spend $200 million a year for the next 20 years to save the Amazon rainforest, calling on other countries to contribute.

PRIVATE MONEY IS ACCUMULATING

Private companies announced an additional $3.6 billion. They include investment firm SouthBridge Group, creating a $2 billion fund for restoration efforts in Africa, the region with the second-most tropical rainforest after South America. Volkswagen Group and H&M Group have signed up to a separate initiative, The LEAF Coalition, launched at COP26, in which governments and companies pay countries with tropical and subtropical forests for emission reductions. Ecuador also becomes the first country to sign a memorandum of understanding with coalition coordinator Emergent, which aims to see a binding emission reduction payment agreement signed by the end of April 2023. South Korea has also agreed to be the first Asian government to provide coalition funding, joining founders from Britain, Norway and the United States. “The need is urgent – for the climate, for biodiversity and the people who depend on forests,” said emerging chief executive Eron Bloomgarden. Other initiatives to deliver on the 2030 Forest Pledge also announced incremental progress at the opening of COP27.

A coalition of 25 governments and charities said 19% of the $1.7 billion pledged to indigenous communities to promote land rights and forest protection had been delivered.

But despite pledging most of the money directly to local communities, around half of the funds have been channeled through international non-governmental organisations. Only 7% went to community-led groups, which the coalition says needs fixing.

“There should be nothing for us without us,” said Basiru Isa, regional secretary general of the Central African indigenous organization REPALEAC, commenting on the matter.

A separate investor initiative aimed at pushing companies to eliminate deforestation by 2025 said Swiss asset manager GAM Investments, UK pension manager London CIV, SouthBridge and Banco Estado de Chile had all joined. alliance.

In September, the initiative announced standards companies should follow to trace products and disclose links to deforestation.

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(Reporting by Simon Jessop in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and Jake Spring in Sao Paulo; Additional reporting by William James and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Katy Daigle, Barbara Lewis and Lisa Shumaker)

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