The Road from Here
Greetings! We’ve returned home from Glasgow after a marathon ten days at the COP26 climate negotiations. There is a long road ahead in leaving a better planet to our children and grandchildren, but in these two weeks the world has made a great deal of progress. If countries follow through on their pledges, a 1.8 degree scenario is within reach. Closing the gap to the Paris “stretch goal” of 1.5 degrees will depend greatly on international cooperation so developing countries can transition to clean energy and industry, and to success in ending deforestation.
On that last point, the good news is we saw much stronger participation from indigenous peoples and other traditional communities than either of us have ever seen at a previous COP. Such participation is not “nice to have.” These communities are the best protectors of forests the world has. We can’t meet Paris goals without them.
This is not some romantic idea; it’s in the data – to borrow a line from the eminent journalist and author Andrew Revkin. For example, deforestation rates in Amazonian lands managed by indigenous peoples in the first decade of this century? 0.6%. Deforestation rates elsewhere in the Amazon? 7%.
Indigenous and local communities care for one-fifth of tropical and subtropical forest carbon and conserve 80 percent of all biodiversity. Yet they receive less than 1 percent of international climate assistance each year.
Three decades of work in the Amazon has shown us firsthand how this lack of support leaves communities standing alone in defending forests – and being intimidated, stolen from, arrested, and killed for it. The $1.7b in new funding pledged in Glasgow to shore up these community efforts was incredible news.
But more funding isn’t enough. We still do not have a climate finance system that is set up to support the very people who are contributing disproportionately to climate solutions. Climate finance is bureaucratic at best and inaccessible at worst for indigenous and traditional peoples. There aren’t good mechanisms in place to deliver funding to the ground, or for communities to tell funders what they should be backing.
On Sunday, together with indigenous leaders, CEOs, investors, and NGOs, we launched the Peoples Forests Partnership to address these challenges. It will be a platform for mobilizing new funding to community-based, values-driven forest projects. Together, we represent already-active projects in over a dozen forest nations, working on more than two million hectares of tropical forests and benefiting a quarter million community members. Our goal is to raise $20 billion in annual investment flows by 2030, which would translate into half a billion acres of forests and tens of millions of people impacted.
The Partnership will support both carbon projects as well as broader investments in strong communities. Carbon finance is just one piece of the puzzle. We also need to train leaders in legal and political advocacy, invest in forest-based economic development, and support communities in long-term planning, including efforts to safeguard their cultures.
Sharing below some more information about the Peoples Forests Partnership. We invite you to learn more and to get involved.
Michael Jenkins, CEO and Founder, Forest Trends
Beto Borges, Director, Forest Trends’ Communities & Territorial Governance Initiative