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Nature's Role


The natural world and its ecosystems is a major, cost-effective ally in the goal of a climate stable world. Creative management of nature - from forests, rivers and wetlands to oceans and drylands – helps boost food security, cleaner air and biodiversity while reducing the vulnerability of people to climate change.

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More than 130 governments, companies, civil society and indigenous peoples today endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests, pledging to cut the loss of forests in half by 2020 and, for the first time, to end forest loss a decade later in 2030.

It also calls for the restoration of more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands, an area greater than the size of India, which would bring significant climate benefits and take pressure off primary forests.

The Declaration was endorsed by countries in the developed and developing world, multinationals from the food, paper, finance and other industries, civil society organizations and indigenous peoples from Peru to Nepal.

The Declaration, a non-legally binding political declaration, aims to change the politics heading into next year’s Paris climate talks and accelerate action by companies to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains.

Avoiding Between 4.5 and 8.8 Billion Tons of CO2 a Year to 2030

The combined action could avoid between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2030, equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars that are currently on the world’s roads.

Deforestation makes a significant contribution to climate change as trees, which store carbon, release it when they are burned during slash-and-burn land clearing of forests. Carter Roberts, President and Chief Executive Officer of the World Wildlife Fund said:

Our planet is losing forests at a rate of eight football fields every ten seconds. Today we’ve seen important commitments from companies, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples to halt this trend. Now it is time for urgent collaboration to see these commitments realized on the ground.

 Corporate Commitments in Support of the New York Declaration

  • Over 20 global food companies have committed to deforestation-free sourcing policies for their palm oil.
  • Among them, three of the world’s largest palm oil companies – Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources and Cargill – committed to work together on implementation, and joined the Indonesian Business Council in asking incoming Indonesian President Joko Widodo to support their efforts through legislation and policies.
  • Taken together, the share of palm oil under zero deforestation commitments has grown from nothing to about 60 per cent in the last year, with the potential to reduce 400 million to 450 million tons of CO2 emissions annually by 2020, or 2 billion tons in the period through 2020.
  • As a contribution to the Summit, the Consumer Goods Forum–a coalition of 400 companies with combined revenue of more than US$3 trillion – also called on governments to pass a legally binding climate deal in Paris in 2015 that includes REDD+, including large-scale payments to countries that reduce deforestation. The global food companies are a part of the Forum.

Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever said:

The last few months have seen a welcome race to the top. Consumers have sent companies a clear signal that they do not want their purchasing habits to drive deforestation and companies are responding … this Declaration signals a real intention to accelerate action.

  Country Commitments in Support of the New York Declaration

  • Major donors announced funding in the millions for projects aimed at halting deforestation and protecting forests. Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom are expected to announce a push for large-scale economic incentives as part of the Paris climate talks in 2015.
  • A global coalition of indigenous peoples spanning Asia, Africa, Central America and the Amazon Basin pledged to protect the more than 400 million hectares of tropical forests under their management. This represents storage of more than 85 gigatons of carbon dioxide.
  •  Peru and Liberia presented groundbreaking new forest policies. Twenty-six governors from provinces covering a quarter of tropical forests, such as the Governors' Climate and Forest Task Force, pledged to do act on climate change -- to cut deforestation by 80 percent --if developed countries create new economic incentives and provide support through results-based payments, with a substantial share of revenues going to indigenous groups and local communities.
  •  The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Uganda and several other countries are set to make national pledges to restore more than 30 million hectares of degraded lands, more than doubling the 20 million hectares already pledged to date under the Bonn Challenge.
  •  Several of Europe’s largest countries committed to develop new public procurement policies to sustainably source forest-intensive commodities like palm oil, soy, beef and timber. This is expected to have a significant market impact by leveraging the buying power of some of the world’s largest economies.

 See full UN announcement on Forests

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