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Forests As Key to Curbing GHGs

Indonesian Forest River, Curt Carnemark Forest Day
Photo Credit: River through Indonesian Forest, Curt Carnemark, The World Bank

December 6, 2010

Slowing the rate of deforestation represents the cheapest and easiest way to curb greenhouse gas emissions, climate and forestry experts said at a gathering on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Mexico, while urging negotiators to find common ground on a REDD+ agreement.


Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, President of MexicoWe have to change the way we do things or climate change will change us  ||  Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico

"Here and now, it's time for all of us to push and push hard for full incorporation of REDD+ into a long-term international climate change agreement," said Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of Mexico, to participants at the opening of Forest Day 4 on Sunday.

Roughly 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest degradation—about the equivalent of those from the global transport sector. “This must be addressed. We have to change the way we do things or climate change will change us,” Calderón noted.

Frances Seymour, Director General, CIFOR"While most of us still hope for an agreement on REDD this week, regardless of what happens in the negotiations, voluntary commitments and initiatives have a momentum of their own.”  ||  Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

REDD+ stands for initiatives reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the conservation and sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. Observers at the U.N. climate conference in Cancún say an agreement on REDD+ represents one of the best opportunities for progress at the talks.

“While most of us still hope for an agreement on REDD this week, regardless of what happens in the negotiations, voluntary commitments and initiatives have a momentum of their own,” said Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which co-organized Forest Day with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, a grouping of 14 international organizations including the World Bank, and the Government of Mexico.

Inger Andersen, Vice President, Sustainable Development, The World Bank"If those (1 billion hectares available for lanscape restoration worldwide) lands were to be restored, they could help deliver a triple win by improving livelihoods, increasing food security and contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation – while taking pressure off pristine forests.”  || Inger Andersen, Vice President, Sustainable Development, The World Bank

That sense of momentum was in evidence at Forest Day 4, a day-long marathon of speeches and learning events which was attended by a record 1,500 people including world leaders, forest, development and climate experts, policymakers, advocates, investors, and indigenous and community representatives.

Speaking on a panel looking at the integration of forests into climate protection and adaptation schemes, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Inger Andersen delivered a strong message of hope. Citing a recent global assessment by WRI, she emphasized that more than 1 billion hectares are available for landscape restoration worldwide – an area greater than that of China. “Success is really possible,” she said. “If those lands were to be restored, they could help deliver a triple win by improving livelihoods, increasing food security and contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation – while taking pressure off pristine forests.”

Co-panelist Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, emphasized the high social returns of investing in ecological infrastructure, based on an analysis of case studies around the world. “Restoring ecosystem functions creates livelihoods and translates into tax revenue over time,” he said.

In China, the World Bank helped finance a landmark landscape restoration program on China's Loess Plateau that lifted more than 2.5 million people out of poverty. Film-maker John Liu, who documented the transformation of the Loess Plateau starting in 1995, showed a new film on Forest Day 4 highlighting the connection between degraded environments and poverty. “This is a vicious cycle that can be reversed,” said Liu.


Film on China's Loess Plateau by John Liu
 





 

 


Inger Andersen, conclusion of Forest and Agriculture and Rural Development Days, COP 16 Cancun, Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Last updated: 2010-12-07




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