Enhanced Sustainable Management Crucial to Achieving Global Forest Goals, Speakers Stress, as Forum Session Continues
Sharing national best practices on the protection of forests, speakers today deliberated ways of enhancing sustainable forest management in achieving global forest goals and explored their linkages with other major international frameworks and agreements, as the United Nations Forum on Forests continued its session.
At the outset of the meeting, the Forum heard two presentations on the item “Thematic priorities for 2023-2024 biennium, in support of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Forests”.
Leonce Komguem called attention to the close link between global forest goal 2 and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Pointing out a number of obstacles that hinder the realization of this incentive, he spotlighted the lack of financial resources, the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic as major challenges. To this end, he suggested expanding the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network’s funding and including a stimulus for goal 2 within the stimulus package.
Similarly, Mahendra Joshi noted that insufficient funding and technical capacity, weak governance and political will, and the loss of forests during conflict constitute major challenges in the forestry area. Recognizing the complexity of safeguarding forests through the use of fixed protected areas due to the impact of climate change on certain plant and animal species, he outlined public support for forest conservation, as well as the use of forest products as renewable, less-energy-intensive substitutes for certain building materials.
In the interactive discussion, several delegates presented national measures for strengthening sustainable forest management practices, with Uruguay’s representative pointing to tax rebates and payments to maintain carbon stocks in soil and biomass. He also said that ensuring the native forests’ sustainability holds great potential for the country’s bioeconomy.
The representative of Indonesia, recalling that his country has the largest tropical forests in the world, said the Government has accelerated social forestry programmes to generate income from forest products by applying an innovative forestry system, while Costa Rica’s delegate reported that his country has invested millions of dollars from taxes and international loans to create a system of national parks and protected areas.
Turning to certification, India’s delegate said that judging the sustainability of forest products solely through private certification must be questioned, while the representative of Brazil said certification must be developed in an inclusive manner, building on the needs of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and producers.
Echoing this stance, the Major Group for Children and Youth’s delegate said that local communities are crucial stakeholders, pointing out that people with forest-dependent livelihoods have been taking care of the forest for generations. Therefore, she suggested central Government agencies reach out to local forest user groups, farmers and local communities.
To this end, the representative of the Indigenous People Major Group said that technical and financial cooperation must not only be provided directly into the hands of Indigenous Peoples, but that contributors must not decide how they will use such cooperation. More so, transition to green energy must not result in the destruction of these Peoples’ ancestral territories. Protected areas are not a solution, but rather a serious, latent, global threat for Indigenous Peoples.
The Forum also heard a presentation of Jihyun Lee, who reported that the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework complements and amplifies the global forest, while urging those present to work in synergy to ensure that these global frameworks reinforce each other. “Transformation lies in viewing shared habitats as a socio-ecological system where nature and people thrive together,” she added.
The Forum also held a panel discussion in which panellists, including Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director at the African Development Bank, detailed forest restoration effort policy interventions to build a green economy. In this regard, she detailed the Bank’s initiatives to industrialize the timber industry in Central Africa and reforestation projects in Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda. Noting that the Bank seeks to plant trees across 11 African countries in the Sahel and Sahara Regions, she said: “Africa’s forests will play an essential role in the Continent’s and the planet’s survival.”
Reporting on the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, Zhimin Wu, Director of the Forestry Division, Food and Agriculture Organization, and Chair of the Partnership, also reported on the important role of the Partnership in capacity-building for programme implementations, including offering scientific and technical advice at the national level to support the work of the Forum.
In the ensuing joint general discussion, speakers outlined regional programmes and national initiatives aiming to achieve global forest goals, while underscoring the importance of partnerships.
The representative of South Africa urged the Forum to consider the structure of its meetings to enhance effective contribution of regional and subregional partners, while Papua New Guinea’s delegate spotlighted the development partners’ support in capacity-building, strengthening institutions and providing training in forest law enforcement and community forest management.
The Forum held a panel discussion on “Regenerative Agriculture for the Global Forest Goals: Essential Support from the Private Sector”.
At the top of the meeting, the Forum concluded its general discussion on “Implementation of the UNSPF Communication and Outreach strategy, including activities regarding the International Day of Forests 2023”, with interventions by the representatives of Kenya, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. (For background, see Press Release ENV/DEV/2059.)
Juliette Biao, responding to questions and concerns regarding the Forum’s website, reported on the immediate short-term solution of assigning a P-3 Public Information Officer who is funded 50 per cent from Germany and 50 per cent from the Trust Fund. However, once this project ends in 2024, the Trust Fund will not have enough resources to continue funding this post. In the medium- to long-term, the staffing gap on communications and outreach still needs to be addressed.
The Forum on Forests will continue its work at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 10 May.
Thematic Priorities for 2023-2024 Biennium of Forest Strategy Plan
LEONCE KOMGUEM, Professor, Durham College in Oshawa, Canada, presenting on the topic “Achieving the Global Forest Goal 2: Challenges and Opportunities”, outlined its close link with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 2, on enhancing forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits, has five targets, with linkages to the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the high-level political forum 2023. However, challenges include lack of funding; difficulty in developing “bankable” sustainable forest management project proposals; and land tenure rights.
He also outlined the problem of delivering forest products to market due to the lack of regulation for non-wood products, while stressing the importance of technical assistance valuing such products and ecosystem services. A consistent framework for the ecosystem services’ measurement is needed, he said, also calling for developing pre-defined dimensions aligned with the targets’ conceptual definition to tackle the lack of standardized and comparable data collection.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed unlawful forestry activities, including poaching and logging, he continued. As well, the war in Ukraine has disrupted the world timber trade, with many countries easing their sustainable forest management measures to increase production. Recognizing that the achievement of goal 2 is hindered by a wide range of obstacles, he underscored the importance of accelerating its realization.
He recommended expanding and multiplying the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network’s workshop accessing funds; ensuring a common understanding of the forest goals’ target indicators; increasing technical assistance; and strengthening national forest authorities to combat illegal logging. Noting the upcoming high-level political forum in September, he encouraged Member States to consider including a stimulus for goal 2 within the stimulus package.
MAHENDRA JOSHI, former staff member of the Forum’s Secretariat, noted that 726 million hectares of forests — 18 per cent of the world’s total — exist in protected areas. However, only 10 countries account for 62 per cent of such protected areas and, while more than half of the world’s forests have management plans, Europe accounts for almost half of the total global forests under them. Similarly, while the trend in certified forest areas is positive — 426 million hectares in 2019 — it is uneven, as the majority of certified forests exist in Europe and North America.
Citing data compiled from national reports, he noted that major challenges in this area include insufficient funding and technical capacity, weak governance and political will, lack of coherent policy, loss of forests due to conversion to other land uses and conflict. Further, safeguarding forests through the use of fixed protected areas is complicated by the fact that certain plant and animal species — on which forest ecosystems depend — are becoming increasingly migratory due to the effects of climate change.
He pointed out, however, that there are new opportunities to support forests and forest management, including genuine public support for forest conservation. Another trend in this area, he noted, is promoting the use of forest products as renewable, less-energy-intensive substitutes for certain building materials.
Encouraging countries to include in their national reports details on what factors led to what results so that lessons can be learned, he also urged them to explore ways to measure progress on forest certification more realistically and to launch consumer-awareness programmes relating to forest products from sustainably managed forests. He also suggested that the Forum consider taking an active facilitating role in following up on forest-related declarations and commitments.
The floor then opened up for an interactive discussion on Item 3(a) addressing “Thematic priorities for 2023-2024 biennium, in support of the implementation of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests”.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo inquired about the way forward for countries like hers which are being asked to preserve their forests but want to use their natural resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Even though her country has oil under its ground and in its forests, Kinshasa has to import oil and is often sold bad quality oil which pollutes the environment even more. Other countries want to take her Government’s raw materials and then sell them back to Kinshasa, she continued, adding that polluting States have yet to provide compensation for countries such as hers.
An observer for the European Union urged States to focus on the Forum’s mandate instead of creating parallel structures. She called for enhanced coordination among Government institutions and between different stakeholders to increase synergies and highlighted the need to learn from each other on forest financing and account for the global forest goals when using wording such as “mainstreaming” or “integrating” in national development programmes or globally legally binding policy instruments. Since all global forest goals are strongly interlinked, the exclusion of global forest goal 1 in terms of prioritization may send the wrong signal, she warned.
The representative of India said, with millions of people in India depending on forests for their livelihoods, the Government has made jobs a priority with the development of many schemes and programmes. To improve access to global markets for value-added forest products, judging the sustainability of forest products solely through private certification must be questioned. There is an urgent need to study global best practices and develop practical strategies. Further, the protection of species and their habitats is a priority. By sharing collective best practices, countries can contribute to the global forest goals.
The representative of the United States said that there is a need to improve data and indicators by sharing collective best practices. Among other things, she called for nature-based solutions and for local communities need to build local capacity in the face of climate change and improve access to markets. Urging the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to continue using its experience to improve its data, she also asked how the Secretariat and the Forum can work together, as well as with stakeholders, to move towards achievement of the goals.
The representative of Indonesia noted that his country has the largest tropical forests in the world and has extended law-enforcement in forest areas and strengthened sustainable forest management practices; accelerated social forestry programmes to generate income from forest products by applying an innovative forestry system; and protected and restored pit lands that account for 50 per cent of the sector’s total emissions, among other things.
The representative of Brazil said section 2.3 — on the linkages with the Paris Agreement — has placed disproportional emphasis on the role of forests mitigation while neglecting adaptation. The background paper on increasing forest protection also presented asymmetries between developed and developing countries. Africa and South America account for less than 25 per cent of the forests on the management plans; such imbalances further stress the need for increasing implementation means for developing countries. Turning to certification, he said it must be developed in an inclusive manner, building on the needs of the Indigenous Peoples and local communities and producers.
The representative of Uruguay detailed national measures to conserve native forests and expand the national forest base, including offering tax rebates and payment to maintain carbon stocks in soil and biomass. While Uruguay faces challenges in this area — such as the loss of forest cover and genetic variability, along with degradation due to agricultural activity — he underscored that ensuring the sustainability of native forests holds great potential for his country’s bioeconomy.
The representative of Costa Rica reported that, for more than three decades, the Government has invested millions of dollars from taxes and international loans to create a system of national parks and protected areas. Further, fossil fuels have been taxed since 1996, and 3.5 per cent of the total collected is directed to farm owners as payment for the environmental services they produce. Calling for increased financing and technology transfer at the international level, he also supported paying a fair price for products that incorporate actions favourable to the environment.
The representative of Germany, echoing the European Union on interlinkages, pointed out that there are numerous bilateral and multilateral funding sources. His country, for example, is a well-known funder of forestry-related projects and programmes and is supporting the work of individual members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. However, a true sharing of efforts, outcomes, success stories and solutions as well as a more dynamic and flexible way to impact the Collaborative Partnership on Forests’ joint work programme are still missing, he said.
The representative of Japan noted that her Government joined the Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership which was launched at the twenty-seventh Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Tokyo also revised its national biodiversity strategy in March; supported forest management which restores the health of ecosystems and considers biodiversity conversation; and promoted various initiatives that contribute to forests’ multifunctional roles.
The representative for the Major Group for Children and Youth said that the rights and needs of local communities and Indigenous Peoples who use the forest are not acknowledged by local actors and stakeholders. Local communities are crucial stakeholders in achieving the global goals, as people with forest-dependent livelihoods and forest-dwelling peoples have been taking care of the forest for generations. Stressing that it is not land to be taxed, she said communities evicted from forest homelands hold the key to the sustainable management of forests. Central Government agencies should initiate dialogues with local forest user groups, farmers and local communities. Financial support should be provided to mid-sized organizations that work closely with groups on the ground. Support and financial support is needed for interregional activities that focus on specific topics such as watershed management; invasive species co-management; participatory methods and ethics; and agroforestry approaches.
The representative of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group, highlighting the alarming absence of Indigenous Peoples from the Forum, stressed that they must not be left behind. True partnerships in the spirit of global goal 17 would have secured a larger presence by identifying funding. Further, transition to green energy must not sacrifice the rights of Indigenous Peoples nor result in the destruction of their ancestral territories. “Technical, financial and all kinds of cooperation must be provided directly into the hands of Indigenous Peoples by practicing the right to free, prior and informed consent and respecting the forms of Government and Organization of Indigenous peoples,” she said, insisting that contributors must not decide how Indigenous Peoples will use such cooperation. “Protected areas are not a solution, [but] rather a serious, latent, global threat at this time for Indigenous Peoples,” she added.
Mr. KOMGUEM, responding to questions, recalled that the dependency on fossil fuels was triggered by the recent energy crisis. To this end, he proposed increasing goal 2.4 funding, while promoting bioenergy development and research. On national capital accounting, he highlighted the inability of States to communicate different forests’ contributions in development and suggested defining a way of their measuring, while enhancing technical assistance. Turning to forest-dependent people, he recalled that one of the global forest goals’ targets is to improve their conditions.
Mr. JOSHI recalled that today forests are mainly discussed in the context of climate change. This results in less attention being given to the Strategic Plan on Forests, he noted, adding: “We need to do something different.” To this end, the Forum could enhance its interaction and cooperation with corporate and national stakeholders and introduce its framework, he said.
JULIETTE BIAO, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat, said that the Forum’s Secretariat provides support for the intergovernmental processes’ substantive issues, while also monitoring progress of achieving the global forest goals. It also oversees the programme on sustainable forests management and facilitates the implementation of political processes, as a Vice Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, among other things. To this end, the Secretariat has a broader responsibility for the global forest goals’ implementation, she said.
Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
JIHYUN LEE, Director of the Science, Society and Sustainable Futures Division and Secretary of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice in the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, noted that the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework sets out targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and to put nature on a path to recovery by 2030. To that end, it calls for, inter alia, a substantial increase of financial resources — as well as capacity-building and scientific cooperation — to facilitate national implementation. Pointing out that the Biodiversity Framework complements and amplifies the global forest goals, she urged those present to work in synergy to ensure that these global frameworks reinforce each other, especially at the national level.
Both frameworks agree on the need to halt and reverse the loss of ecosystems — including forests — especially by bringing the loss of high-integrity forests close to zero and restoring at least 30 per cent of degraded forests by 2030, she continued. They also underscore the need to enhance the integrity of natural forests; improve species and genetic diversity; and reduce extinction rates. Further, both frameworks recognize the need to transform forest-management practices, ensuring that forests are managed sustainably. Transformation lies in viewing shared habitats as a socio-ecological system where nature and people thrive together.
She also emphasized that increasing the protection of forests is a common priority for both frameworks, and that the Biodiversity Framework aims to protect 30 per cent of the world’s forest area. At the same time, however, countries must ensure that protected areas are well-connected and equitably governed and that the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are respected.
Spotlighting the complementarity in supporting local and small-scale enterprises that operate through sustainable supply chains and protect or restore local wildlife, she called for joint efforts to stimulate and scale-up these positive practices. She added that the Biodiversity Framework calls on Governments to take legal measures to encourage and enable businesses to regularly monitor, assess and disclose their impacts on biodiversity with the goal of reducing the same.
Panel Discussion Thematic Priorities (3(a)) and Interlinkage (3(d))
The Forum then held a panel discussion on “Thematic priorities for 2023-2024 biennium in support of the implementation of the United Nations Strategic Plan on Forests” and on “Interlinkages between the global forest goals and targets and the Sustainable Development Goals under review by the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2023, the work towards post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and other international forest-related developments”.
Moderated by Sheam Satkuru, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization, it featured as panellists: Ulrich Apel, Senior Environment Specialist at the Global Environment Facility; Mikko Ollikainen, Manager at the Adaptation Fund; Vanessa Ushie, Acting Director of the African Natural Resources Management and Investment Centre at the African Development Bank; and Qingfeng Zhang, Chief of the Rural Development and Food Security Thematic Group at the Asian Development Bank.
Mr. APEL, spotlighting several of the Global Environment Facility’s $3.7 billion in investments in forest projects and programmes, emphasized the need to protect primary forests as irreplaceable assets to sustain life on earth. The world cannot afford to lose its remaining intact forest landscapes, especially since they serve as irrecoverable carbon resources and have an irreplaceable role for biodiversity, other ecosystem services and forest-dependent people. As such, the international community must connect investors with viable projects and programmes to strategically channel investments. Forest ecosystems must be restored for multiple environmental and socioeconomic benefits since they contribute to green and blue recovery, stimulate investments, create jobs and secure livelihoods. The Facility is also supporting restoration efforts as a complementary measure to the conservation of intact forest landscapes. Moreover, there is also a need to address the drivers of deforestation in an integrated way to achieve transformations. Systems such as food production must become sustainable, regenerative, climate resilient and nature positive while ensuring no future deforestation, he said, underlining the need for institutional reform on multisectoral governance at the landscape level.
Mr. OLLIKAINEN said 85 per cent of the Adaptation Fund’s resources come from Governments. It aims to serve the Paris Agreement and provide financing to meet the needs of developing countries. Increased adaptation measures are very effective and generate many benefits. Over the next five years, it will offer new opportunities to countries. As well, it is expanding support for single countries and regional groups and is increasing its efforts on local needs through promoting programmes that give ownership to the local communities. With 150 projects with just over $1 billion of investments, its portfolio of forestry-related projects include 88 projects with a value of nearly $600 million. The Adaption Fund also supports projects aligned with countries’ national strategies, he said, outlining several projects in the Seychelles, Cambodia, Armenia and India, among others.
Ms. USHI, noting that Africa’s deforestation and land degradation causes poverty, hunger and biodiversity loss, said that African countries are incorporating forestry in policy interventions to build a green economy and enhance climate adaptation. Challenges include weak governance and enforcement of forests management, as well as loss and outflows of natural and financial capital. Policies and institutions must be strengthened and political will among African leaders and enhanced regional cooperation must be mobilized. Because finance and investment are catalysts in transforming Africa’s forest economies, there is a need for an investment threshold at 5 per cent of the product’s portfolio in multilateral banks. The African Development Bank developed initiatives to industrialize the timber industry in Central Africa and promoted reforestation projects in Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda. Through its Great Green Wall initiative, it seeks to plant trees across 11 African countries in the Sahel and Sahara Regions, while also leading efforts to mobilize $33 billion to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land; create 10 million job and sequester 250 tons of carbon. Over $8.5 billion were mobilized through the African Development Fund in the 2023-2025 financing cycle, including a $429 million “Climate Action Window” package. The Bank has adopted initiatives on Africa’s natural capital valuation to generate new income and regional banks are increasing their use of green finance. “Africa’s forest will play an essential role in the Continent’s and the planet’s survival,” she stated.
Due to an interruption in interpretation, meeting coverage of Mr. Zhang could not be completed.
Enhanced Cooperation with Partners to Achieving Thematic Priorities
Ms. BIAO then introduced the Secretariat’s note titled “Enhanced cooperation with partners and the contributions of such partners to achieving the thematic priorities” (document E/CN.18/2023/3). The note contains information on the Collaborative Partnership on Forests’ joint activities and initiatives to enhance cooperation, coordination and synergy on forest-related issues across its member organizations. She also reported that the Forum contributes to the Collaborative Partnership’s work — both as a member organization and through its Secretariat — and that, for 2023, the Forum is also serving as the Collaborative Partnership’s Vice-Chair. She noted that further details on progress and implementation will be provided by the Collaborative Partnership’s Chair later in the meeting.
She went on to say that the note includes information on the contributions of regional and subregional organizations and processes made since the Forum’s seventeenth session in 2022, along with information relating to the contributions of major groups and other stakeholders since that session. On that point, she said that the Major Group for Children and Youth’s participation in the fifteenth World Forestry Congress culminated in the Youth Call for Action, which identifies challenges and recommendations for young people’s meaningful inclusion, participation and recognition in the forest sector. She added that the Forum’s Secretariat also developed its engagement with the Business and Industry Major Group through the group’s focal point in the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations.
ZHIMIN WU, Director of the Forestry Division, FAO, and Chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, presenting the report on its work, noted that the Green Climate Fund became the sixteenth member of the Partnership. With sixteen organizations representing major forest-related partners, “we can do quite a lot”, he said. Highlighting the Partnership’s vision of sustainably managing all kinds of forest by 2030 and fully unlocking the potential of global forest resources, he said: “We should be ambitious but at the same time we need to be practical and realistic.” Commending the enthusiasm and energy of the member organizations, he said that the Partnership will work in full consultations with the Forest Forum. Expressing support for the Forum’s work, he added that a key function of the Partnership is to listen to States and understand their expectations. While the Partnership is still far from actually satisfying their needs, it plans to enhance its work using the expertise of its member organizations.
Stressing the important role of the Partnership in capacity-building for programme implementation, he added that it offers scientific and technical advice at the national level to support the work of the Forum. The Partnership also focuses on global advocacy and communication through multiple communication strategies and by observing the International Day of the Forest. Mobilizing political will is a crucial task, he said, adding that States have a key role in sustainable forest management and achieving the global forest goals. Noting that the Partnership is undergoing a strategic review and will consider how to make its work more dynamic, he said it is incorporating innovative work methods such as brainstorming and setting up task forces.
The representative of Jamaica underlined the need to identify challenges and future opportunities for the development of forestry as a business in his country. Highlighting the importance of boosting the local economy and reducing the stress on forest resources, he pointed to the annual celebration of the International Day of Forests, which continues to grow awareness and participation locally. He also stressed the need to take actions towards sustainable forest management activities.
The representative of South Africa outlined several programmes at the regional level that aim to achieve the global forest goals. One of them focuses on reducing the instances of fire in the region through collaboration with different stakeholders. She urged the Forum to consider the structure of its meetings to enhance effective contribution of regional and subregional partners as well as to enhance participation and improve original inputs into the process.
The representative of China said that, despite encouraging Member States’ participation and expanding membership, cooperation and coordination, the Partnership still has room for improvement. While the mid-term review assessment report reflected the Partnership’s achievements and problems in 2022, he called for releasing more specialized reports on thematic issues and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The representative of the United Kingdom said his country has committed £1.5 billion in 2021-2026 for the global forests’ protection, restoration, and better governance. It has also supported over 250,000 people living in or near forests by generating new jobs in bioeconomy and increasing smallholder incomes in key commodities, among other initiatives. It is global partners through a number of initiatives, including the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Dialogue; the LEAF Coalition; the REDD+ framework; and the Partnerships for Forests.
The representative of Papua New Guinea pointed out that his country is the world’s third-largest tropical-forest nation, with 78 million hectares of pristine forests and around 7 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. Protecting and sustainably using its forests requires genuine, respectful partnerships between Governments and relevant stakeholders. Development partners’ support has allowed his country to build capacity, strengthen institutions and provide training in forest law enforcement and community forest management.
The representative of Gabon spotlighted her country’s high forest coverage and low deforestation that result from robust national forest policy. Robust partnerships between developing and developed countries are needed to implement global forest-related commitments, she said, also calling for increased funding for developing countries’ forest conservation and restoration. Further, she welcomed FAO’s commitments regarding the protection and rational use of forests and resources.
The representative of Ecuador highlighted the work of the Amazon Treaty Cooperation Organization in developing strategies for forest financing in his region and called for support from the Forest Forum’s Secretariat in conjunction with FAO. Underlining the global importance of Latin America and the Caribbean’s forests, he said it is essential to develop a framework of common cooperation. He also spotlighted the Environmental Defense Fund’s support in enhancing the environmental rights of Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador’s forestry practices.
The representative of Kenya said it is working with FAO to develop farm produce organizations to ensure community livelihoods and climate resilience. Also noting efforts to restore arid and semi-arid areas, he said the country is actively promoting the “Green Tree Commodity Project” and is targeting 30 per cent forest recovery. Kenya is eagerly waiting to work with members of the Partnership and the United Nations system, he added.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that, against the backdrop of global climate change, everyone is dependent on forests. The role of forests in climate change mitigation and adaptation cannot be overstated. Forests cover over 55 per cent of his country’s total land mass — about 48 million hectares — and support the development of agriculture.
The representative of Switzerland said that the United Nations Water Conference should serve as a model. Highlighting the importance of informing colleagues from the Partnership on how forests will contribute to their own work programme, she also stressed the need to focus on how forest contribute to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
Panel on Contribution of Major Groups and Other Relevant Stakeholders
The Forum held a panel discussion on “Regenerative Agriculture for the Global Forest Goals: Essential Support from the Private Sector”. Moderated by Catherine Grenier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nature Conservancy Canada, it featured presentations by: Michèle Zollinger, Global Sustainable Sourcing for Pulp and Paper and Climate Forest Lead at Nestlé; Alexander Gillett, Chief Executive Officer of HowGood; and Stéphane Hallaire, Chief Executive Officer of Reforest’Action.
Ms. ZOLLINGER said that, as an agri-food company, Nestlé’s biggest impact comes from the ingredients it sources, with deforestation and land conversion being major drivers of emissions. Recalling that Nestlé launched a forest-positive strategy in 2021, she said this was a result of 10 years of work relating to deforestation commitments. From that, Nestlé learned that it is not enough to avoid deforestation; rather, it must also take an active role in restoration and conservation. Further, it must think long-term, addressing deforestation before it happens. She detailed the three pillars of Nestlé’s strategy: ensuring that there is no deforestation in its supply chains; taking long-term action to restore and conserve forests; and investing in sustainable landscapes from which it sources ingredients. She also said that individual farmers are a key building block for regenerative agri-food systems, urging collaborative efforts across farmers, communities, organizations and industries.
Responding to a question on Nestlé’s departure point for achieving positive impacts in this area, she said that it starts with farmers, who form part of its supply chain. A key learning in this area is the importance of putting communities and their livelihoods at the centre. Responding to a question on the relationship between Governments and the private sector, she spotlighted the opportunity for collaboration, which is key to achieving ambitious targets like 1.5°C. The private sector can act as an enabler in this regard, and Governments can help hold supply chains accountable.
Mr. GILLETT, noting the growing acceptance for regenerative agriculture, said that the best way to hit the 1.5°C target is to curb deforestation and promote carbon sequestration in agriculture. Chief executive officers of the largest food companies are collaborating with farmers in efforts to address this, but farmers need five years to implement the changes. “That means we have two and a half years to do everything needed to achieve the 40 per cent regenerative agriculture target,” he said. If the international community misses this deadline, the goals become harder and more expensive, he said, adding that agriculture is one of the few industries that can not only be carbon-neutral but also carbon-sequestering. Agroforestry can support livelihoods and diversify income streams in addition to enhancing climate resilience, he said, observing that big companies are able to do this at scale. Noting that the largest producers of food in the world are making commitments at the CEO level, he said that outcome-based solutions and shared metrics are crucial. Reiterating that it takes five years to transition fully to regenerative agriculture, he said that it is necessary to support farmers through the inevitable “dip”. Governments must step in to help farmers bridge that transition.
Mr. HALLAIR stressed the need to engage companies to shift subsidiaries from conventional agriculture to regenerative agriculture and develop capacity-building. The shift, however, is not easy as it requires new skills, he said, describing the carbon market as an area in which the private sector is happy to invest today. By facilitating the implementation of the carbon market in different countries, it helps scaling regenerative agriculture. He drew attention to the collaboration with Hennessy which implemented agroforestry in France and other countries, including Nigeria, Madagascar and China. The carbon market, at $2 billion last year, is expected to grow to $40 billion in 2030, which is exactly the amount needed to enable the shift to regenerative agriculture. He further detailed a project funded by AstraZeneca — involving local populations, 15,000 hectares and 30,000 farmers — which aims to plant trees, including tea and coffee trees, thus generating additional revenue on top of carbon. However, AstraZeneca will take no share on these extra revenues, he noted.
When the floor opened up for an interactive dialogue, the representative of Senegal asked about balancing regenerative agriculture within the context of rising population growth, monoculture, strategies to review carbon prices and ways to ensure a redistribution of benefits for those who do not have forests.
Responding, Mr. HALLAIR stressed that biodiversity is key. Reforest’Action’s endeavours in Rwanda on production and income diversity have enabled Rwandans to become more resilient to the challenges they face since they can depend on multiple markets rather than one. Turning to carbon prices, he acknowledged that they are too low and destructive, especially since they prevent the development of expensive, quality projects and since they do not allow for the fair distribution of benefits. However, there is a major effort under way to increase project quality. There is also a willingness to associate the co-benefits of biodiversity with generated carbon and thereby facilitate a higher price per ton of carbon, he noted.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo stressed the need for increased funding and resources to support resilient agriculture, while the representative of Australia asked how costly it has been for Nestlé to implement enhanced sourcing requirements.
Responding, Ms. ZOLLINGER said that Nestlé has committed to spend $1.2 billion by 2025 to implement regenerative agriculture along with its supply chains.
The representative of Canada asked for a clarification regarding what Ms. Zollinger said about changing the mindset. “Changing whose mindset?” she asked, also wondering what the exact nature of the challenge was.
Responding, Ms. ZOLLINGER said that she was talking about the importance of changing the mindset of the agricultural company. Instead of operating from the perspective of risk, agricultural companies need to consider how best to take proactive action to address the conservation of forests and land degradation. Sourcing is not sufficient; it is also necessary to contribute to the empowerment of farmers, she said.
The representative of Botswana, pointing out that landowners in some parts of the world are not familiar with the direct benefits of carbon trading, asked about strategies to build confidence in the carbon market.
Responding, Ms. ZOLLINGER said that biodiversity is a key piece of forest-positive strategy, especially in terms of sustainable landscaping. She pointed to a project sourcing coco from Côte d’Ivoire, which supports regenerative agriculture as well as the resilience of farmers and forest protection and conservation.
The representative of the Farmers Major Group, highlighting the absence and limitations of other Major Groups and stakeholders, underscored the dire need for funding. As such, she requested the Forum to allow for a hybrid session, especially since all voices should be heard and stakeholders should be included in national delegations. “We need stakeholders involved, we need [a] whole-of-society approach to implementation,” she stressed, calling on the Forum to establish a coordinating mechanism for Major Groups and other stakeholders.
Ms. BIAO, underscoring the Forum’s difficulty on funding, stressed that it prefers to build participant’s capacities to mobilize funding. She also thanked the panellists and pointed out that nobody believed it was possible to invite them to the Forum’s technical session. “It is impossible until someone does it,” she said, adding: “It is only beginning because, beyond the panel, beyond the discussions, we need to see how things actually take place on the ground.”