By Charlotte Ross-Harris
On average 2.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide are released each year from deforestation. There is a lot of room for improvement in the world’s forestry practices and the FAO’s Forest Action Day allowed for progress reports and feedback of the situation.
From what I can gather thus far, the majority of work around forestry at COP22 is focused at aiding developing countries to better manage and protect their forests.
The COP21 President listed three clear objectives:
• Let’s make REDD+ something real.
• We need to recognize the role of indigenous people in the path forward.
• Let’s begin global climate action with our forests.
The REDD+ initiative is the UNFCCC’s key tool for ensuring real results through providing funding to the appropriate places to reduce deforestation and improve forest conditions in developing countries. It has been a slow and challenging process for these nations who are mostly still in the stages of presenting their Forest Reference Levels (FRL) and submissions to the UNFCCC. The forum today allowed for the communication of these challenges and victories. For example Ecuador presented their progress – after 4 years of working out their FRLs and identifying the drivers of deforestation, they are finally finished and can soon receive payments to implement their REDD+ program. What is clear is that the introduction of a new software called Collect Earth is making the process much faster. This software allows users to analyze extremely high resolution satellite imagery to assess the land cover and change. It can be updated every 10 days and is quite affordable. This can rapidly provide land surveys that have previously taken years of data collection to create.
Additionally, the financing of this endeavor was discussed. A union between the UK, Germany and Norway was especially promising as they have committed to provide up to 5 billion USD to countries working through REDD+ between 2015 and 2020. These results based payments would be delivered along with technical assistance and capacity building exercises.
Generally, it is evident that the whole world is finally changing and moving towards a greener direction. This is heavily aided by the fact that it is becoming financially beneficial to do so. The private sector is changing the supply chain structure so that more sustainable business practices may be included. Big impacts are coming from companies with huge buying power that are committing to choosing sustainable or deforestation free products. For example, McDonalds has committed to buying deforestation free beef. Therefore, we need sustainable supply chains and green investments for these companies to buy in to. I left feeling greatly encouraged at the path our leaders are taking and at the sense of urgency there is to take action now.