Poznan, Poland (8 December 2008)—With growing concern that governments will fail to reach consensus on the role of forests in the next global climate pact, an alliance of international forestry and environmental organizations today called on negotiators to include forests in mechanisms to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
“Forests are crucial to fighting and adapting to climate change,” said Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) at a press conference today following Forest Day 2 at the UNFCCC 14th Conference of the Parties (COP-14) in Poznan, Poland. “We must include forests in our strategies to deal with climate change. If we do not, we could face a nightmare scenario, a positive feedback loop, in which emissions from deforestation and degradation feed global warming, which in turn accelerates forest loss.”
Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming – more than the emissions from the world’s entire transport sector.
Signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, did not include a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation. Now world forestry leaders insist that climate change negotiators include forests in the next climate agreement in December 2009 at the UNFCCC COP-15 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“What was important about Forest Day was the remarkable consensus across a broad range of stakeholders about what needs to be done,” said Seymour. “The forestry community has a long history of contentious and divisive debates but we’ve come together to tackle this challenge.”
Based on the discussions and the response of the forest sector to the climate change agenda, prepared by The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) as an input to the negotiation process, a summary was given to Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC at the close of Forest Day 2. It called for urgent action to reduce deforestation and a new international agreement for a REDD mechanism that would reduce emissions and also protect the rights of and provide benefits to people who depend on forests for their livelihoods. REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, is a mechanism for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by compensating countries for avoiding deforestation and degradation.
“We can build on our knowledge about sustainable forest management to design climate change adaptation and mitigation tools, and thereby not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but help people overcome poverty, protect biodiversity and enhance good governance,” said Jan Heino, Assistant Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and Chair of the CPF. “There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Now we need the climate negotiators to recognize the importance of forests and their sustainable management in their next agreement.”
CPF members and Forest Day participants believe that REDD will enable sustainable forest management to compete financially with the economic drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, which currently favor destructive logging practices and conversion of forest land to other uses, such as cattle pasture and cropland. Several REDD-style pilot projects are already underway in Brazil and Indonesia.
“In terms of reducing emissions from deforestation, we are not talking about ‘an either or’ situation. We need deep cuts in all emissions from cars to agriculture,” said Sunita Narain, Director of the Center for Science and Environment in India. “Forests are not a substitute for other emissions cuts. They must be part of global emissions reduction in all sectors.”
Almost 1000 forest, environment and development stakeholders attended Forest Day 2. The CPF statement called for climate negotiators, governments and others to:
- Include forests in climate mitigation and adaptation mechanisms and strategies
- Ensure full inclusion and participation of civil society in international, regional, national and local decision-making processes
- Recognize and respect the rights of women, poor people and Indigenous Peoples
Many speakers and participants stressed that forests should be seen as more than just carbon storehouses.
“Forests provide livelihoods to some of the world’s poorest people and harbor much of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity,” said Seymour.
Forest Day 2 was held in parallel with the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Pozna?. The event was co-hosted by the Government of Poland and the Polish State Forests NFH, and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, an alliance of international organizations that cooperate on forest issues.
“You cannot overestimate the importance of forests in our response to the challenges of climate change,” said Mr. Maciej Nowicki, Poland’s Minister of the Environment. “We must take urgent action to protect our welfare and that of future generations. We have the technical solutions. We have the policy solutions.”
Speaking at Forest Day 2, Martin Parry of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said “Reducing deforestation is probably the largest win-win mitigation target we can make. The magic that is missing is the collective political will.”
Forest Day 2 discussions built on areas of consensus that have emerged through other processes in 2008, including The Forests Dialogue, a group of individuals from diverse interests and regions that are committed to the conservation and sustainable use of forests, and the CPF’s Strategic Framework for Forests and Climate Change. This Framework shows how forests, when sustainably managed, can play a positive role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. For more information, see http://www.fao.org/forestry/cpf-climatechange/en/.
For the complete Forest Day 2 summary, please visit: http://cifor.pitsolutions.ch/fileadmin/templatesnew/res/documents/cop/Summary-Forest-Day-2.pdf.
Forest Day 2 was co-hosted by: CIFOR, the Government of Poland & the Polish State Forests NFH, and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). Members of the CPF are: CIFOR • CBD Secretariat • FAO • GEF • ICRAF • ITTO • IUCN • IUFRO Secretariat • UNCCD Secretariat • UNDP • UNEP • UNFCCC Secretariat • UNFF Secretariat • World Bank. For more information on the partnership, please visit: http://www.fao.org/forestry/cpf/en/
Additional funding was provided by: Australian Agency for International Development, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Government of Norway, and the Government of Poland and the Polish State Forests NFH.
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