Resilience Dispatch #9: This is our “really urgent” portfolio right now

Sep 1, 2020

In this edition

  • How we work
  • Strategic priorities for the final months of 2020
    • Our ongoing COVID-19 emergency response
    • Letting go of old thinking as we face a biodiversity catastrophe
    • Fortifying companies and governments in their climate ambition
    • Investing in women leaders for water and climate security
    • Supercharging climate finance

The Big Picture

Michael Jenkins

In this installment of the Resilience Dispatch, I wanted to share with you an overview of Forest Trends’ strategy over the next several critical months.

It has not been an easy year. But I see a number of positive signals that 2020 is not going to be a lost year for climate or biodiversity, as many people initially feared.

I see the resilience of our partner communities in the face of incredible pressure from COVID, fires, and illegal deforestation. I look at the evidence that companies and governments are not backing down from their climate pledges, despite the pandemic. I see climate justice and equity issues at the center of the climate debate, instead of at the margins, and real progress toward inclusive climate strategies.

I feel momentum gathering. We are poised at the beginning of a very busy, very critical time. This Dispatch takes a moment to reflect on the big picture.

As always, stay in touch, and stay well.

– Michael

How we work

Forest Trends deliberately stays small, nimble, and committed to working in partnerships. We are:

Our Strategic Priorities in the Coming Months

We wanted to share a preview of key priorities this quarter. We’re also highlighting some great forthcoming work from our many critical partners.

We have as little as a decade before global warming exceeds 1.5° Celsius—a critical tipping point in global systems. It is still possible to stabilize temperatures below 1.5°C, but every moment counts.

Our ongoing COVID-19 emergency response
We continue to work to secure emergency relief resources and help circulate health information with our indigenous community partners suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. In Brazil, indigenous peoples are dying at twice the rate of their non-indigenous compatriots
Letting go of old thinking as we face a biodiversity catastrophe
As the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in New York begins today, the reality is that the world has failed to meet a single one of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. (The Aichi Targets are bit like the Paris Climate Agreement, but for biodiversity.) We have lost two-thirds of the planet’s wildlife in the last fifty years. We may yet wipe out another million species to extinction. 
What does a successful pathway forward look like? It probably won’t involve creating lots of new protected areas, fenced off from human interference.
Community-led conservation (CLC) puts communities in control, instead of governments, rangers, or NGOs. It allows activities like agroforestry and timber harvests. And new research suggests it is more effective in the long term than traditional conservation models. 
Fortifying companies and governments in their climate ambition
Since the Paris Agreement was signed, we’ve seen a wave of ambitious net-zero carbon commitments from companies including Google, Microsoft, Walmart, Apple, and Amazon. COVID-19 hasn’t changed this trajectory: Companies are standing by their pledges. Likewise, we’ve seen major announcements from China and California this month on plans to cut emissions.

Our work in the months ahead focuses on making sure these actors have the tools they need to succeed – whether it’s data for decision-making, the financial architecture for low-carbon investments, or guidance on getting it right in projects on the ground.

Our Ecosystem Marketplace team generates cutting-edge data, market analysis, and journalism, for which we’ve been given the nickname the “Bloomberg of environmental markets.” This fall, we’ll be releasing a special series of analyses on the voluntary carbon markets and climate ambition. Our first installment, “Voluntary Carbon and the Post-Pandemic Recovery,” launched last week during NYC Climate Week at the North American Carbon Forum.
Did you know that commercial agriculture drives at least two-thirds of tropical deforestation? Our new partnership with the Accountability Framework Initiative (AFi) supports guidance for companies working to tackle deforestation risks in their supply chains, and transparency on their progress.
Curious about AFi? Register for their upcoming training on how companies can set and deliver on human rights and zero deforestation goals.
Investing in women leaders for water and climate security
Climate change disproportionately affects the lives of women and their daily work. This month, our partners in Peru launched the National Committee for Women and Climate Change, a historic milestone in terms of women’s participation and climate governance. The Committee follows the inauguration of our Women’s Leadership Program for Water, which supports women as they exercise their leadership on water and nature-based solutions in Peru.
Supercharging climate finance
Climate finance is designed to target forests at risk. Money goes to communities that bend the trajectory away forest loss, a criterion known as “additionality.”  But this means that regions with historically low rates of forest loss – including indigenous territories in the Amazon – find themselves ineligible for climate finance, even if they are facing new deforestation pressures.  It’s a major unsolved problem for climate justice, and a strategic focus for us this year.
A cost-effective climate strategy depends on protecting tropical forests and other “natural climate solutions.” As governments and companies focus on transitioning to a net-zero carbon world under pressure from regulators, investors, consumers, and market forces, we’re designing and promoting financing strategies that would unlock $10 billion for tropical forests and help to “flatten the curve” of the global economy’s costs of transition to climate stability.