BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 24th Sept '14

BUSINESSES, GOVERNMENTS AND NGOS COMMIT TO HALTING DEFORESTATION

The UK has agreed to the New York Declaration on Forests, which brings together a coalition of governments, companies, multilaterals, NGOs and indigenous representatives around an ambitious target of halving the rate of natural forest loss by 2020, and halting it by 2030.

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Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the world’s biggest producers of pulp, paper and packaging, also signed the declaration in New York yesterday morning, during an event hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Unprecedented action

The declaration is an unprecedented international, multi-sector commitment to safeguard the world’s forests and to help tackle climate change.

Those who have signed the declaration have committed to a vision of slowing, halting and reversing global forest loss while at the same time contributing to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law, food security, climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.

The declaration highlights that reducing emissions from deforestation and increasing forest restoration are key to tackling climate change. Partners, including The Kellogg Company, Marks & Spencer, Barclays, Nestlé, Cargill, and NGOs including the RSPB, WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are called on to work together.

The commitments

  • At least halve the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and strive to end natural forest loss by 2030.
  • Restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020 and significantly increase the rate of global restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030.

In total, the commitments have the collective target of achieving a reduction in emissions by 4.5-8.8 billion tons per year by 2030.

‘The New York Declaration on Forests is a significant achievement, bringing together for the first time a coalition of governments, companies, multilaterals, NGOs and indigenous representatives around an ambitious target of halving the rate of forest loss by 2020, and halting it by 2030.

‘Private sector commitments to deforestation-free supply chains are a real game-changer, and public-private partnerships have great potential to align economic incentives in the countries that are committed to taking action.

‘The UK is delivering and last year announced we stood ready to provide further finance to the Carbon Fund if sufficient programmes were approved. Today we are acting on that promise and I can announce the UK is contributing an additional £45m (USD73m) to the Fund.’

Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

A ‘ground-breaking’ convention

Teguh Ganda Wijaya, Chairman of APP said, ‘United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has done the planet and some of its most critical ecosystems a great service in convening this ground-breaking meeting of governments, global business leaders and NGOs.

‘Business can take the lead in delivering these commitments, but we must work closely with all stakeholders including governments and NGOs to truly tackle deforestation and climate change. One of the most effective ways to do this is by conserving forest, planting trees, and protecting the natural forest that surrounds.

‘We at APP also believe that forest-based products can help in this regard because they retain carbon, are recyclable and, when sourced from responsibly managed plantations, are often more sustainable than the alternatives.’

Ambitious targets can be achieved

Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability, added, ‘We have shown through our own Zero Deforestation policies that ambitious targets to protect the world’s remaining forests can be agreed, implemented and achieved by companies operating in emerging economies. Our view is that wherever a company is involved in the forest supply chain, they should be implementing these policies immediately. There is no time to waste.’

APP announced its Forest Conservation Policy and zero deforestation commitment in February 2013 and, over the last 18 months, has been working successfully to implement this policy. Earlier this year, the company made a further commitment to support the protection and restoration of one million hectares of tropical rainforest landscapes in Indonesia, one of the most ambitious conservation commitments ever made by a private company.

The UN Climate Summit was held in New York on 23 September, ahead of the Paris summit in December 2015. To find out more about the UK government’s vision for a climate deal next year, have a look at its policy paper, Securing our prosperity through a global climate change agreement.