2018 Progress on the New York Declaration on Forests

NYDF Global Platform All Topics Announcements 2018 Progress on the New York Declaration on Forests

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    Ingrid Schulte
    Ingrid Schulte

    The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), endorsed at the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2014, is a voluntary political declaration with over 190 endorsers – including countries, subnational governments, companies, indigenous groups, and NGOs – with ambitious targets to end forest loss.

    The NYDF Assessment Partners (formerly NYDF Assessment Coalition) are a network of civil society and research groups mandated with tracking progress toward the ten goals of the NYDF until 2020.  Together, the partners annually conduct the NYDF Progress Assessment, consisting of (1) an in-depth report looking at progress on a selected goal (or set of goals) and (2) brief updates on all the goals. Ongoing monitoring efforts, engagement, and visibility of the NYDF Progress Assessment will enable stakeholders to hold endorsers accountable to their commitments and to ensure that interest in achieving the NYDF goals is maintained. The objective of the NYDF Progress Assessment is to make a contribution towards achieving the ten goals set out in the NYDF and creates an information platform that tracks their progress, and implements a series of activities that encourages ambition and momentum around actions to achieve its targets.

    In 2015, the first edition of the NYDF Progress Assessment proposed a framework and respective indicators for measuring progress toward all ten goals and offered an initial assessment on the status of progress toward their achievement. In 2016, the second edition of the report focused on Goal 2, eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains, building on the 2015 NYDF Assessment Framework and Initial Report. It was met with an overall positive response and widespread media coverage (including Reuters, NPR, and Politico). The third edition of the report, released in October 2017, provides a deep analysis of Goals 8 and 9 of the NYDF – looking at the financial support provided to forest emission reduction strategies (Goal 8), and rewards for action (Goal 9).

    The fourth edition of the NYDF Progress Assessment will be launched on November 29th, 2018. It will focus on forest governance, the rule of law, and the empowerment of communities and indigenous peoples (Goal 10). The 2018 progress assessment of Goals 1-9, launched in September, shows that natural forests continue to disappear at an alarming rate since the NYDF was adopted in 2014. Our assessment finds that:

    • We are not on track to meet the goal to halve natural forest loss globally by 2020. Political will and company pledges are insufficient to curb tropical deforestation. Furthermore, deforestation remains at record highs.
      Forests have the potential to provide at least 30 percent of the solution to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees, yet our forests are disappearing faster than ever (Goal 1).
    • Though large shares of international and export markets in palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp are covered by corporate commitments to reduce forest loss, major players in each of these commodities have yet to adopt any forest-related commitments (Goal 2). In addition, companies producing these commodities for domestic consumption or for developing country markets often do not have any forest commitments due to a lack of consumer demand for sustainable products.
    • Infrastructure development and extractive activities like mining and oil and gas work synergistically to threaten forests: mines and oil wells require roads and power sources, and roads and power sources open areas to more mining and development (Goal 3). The governments of some countries with remaining biodiverse, primary forest cover, like Brazil and Indonesia, are rolling back hard-won forest protection regulations in favor of economic growth plans based on resource extraction.
    • It remains difficult to assess the aggregate impact of subsistence farming and fuelwood collection on the world’s forests (Goal 4). Several examples of landscape-scale initiatives to support smallholder farmers and forest producers show promise for diversifying and improving livelihoods while reducing negative local impacts on forests from subsistence activities.
    • Forest restoration commitments grow, but measuring implementation remains challenging (Goal 5). Bonn Challenge pledges reached 163 million hectares, and 49 countries have committed themselves to restoring a total of 57 million hectares of forest landscapes – an area larger than France – under the Paris Agreement. Countries are adopting new policy arrangements and strengthening implementation capacities for bringing degraded forests and land into restoration. Faced with the 2020 target and limited data on implementation, countries and organizations are increasing their focus on measuring progress of ongoing efforts.
    • Investments in deforestation drivers dwarf finance to protect forests, but safeguards are slowly being introduced (Goal 8). Subsidies and investments in sectors driving deforestation (e.g. agriculture) amount to 40 times more than investments in protecting forests. While enforcement is still limited, some individual banks are emerging as leaders in the adoption of forest-risk policies. This year several banks have publicly disclosed and divested from companies with a risk of high deforestation, such as the Government Pension Fund Global.
    • Results-based payments for REDD+ are under development to incentivize forest protection, but progress is slow (Goal 9). As of July 2018, 19 countries have submitted initial emissions reductions plans to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund, one of the main financing vehicles for REDD+. Proposals from eight countries have been accepted and agreements are under negotiation, while three others are also in the final stages of approval.
    • Better data is needed to protect forests. Across sectors, lack of data is a major limitation to understanding the location-specific drivers of deforestation and the effectiveness of measures taken to protect forests. Major constraints and uncertainties include small sample sizes, lack of appropriate proxy data, and lack of verification of self-reported data.

    Results are published and made publicly available via annual reports and on the interactive web platform forestdeclaration.org.

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