It is now well understood that we cannot achieve the objective of the Paris Agreement – to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius - without also making the most of natural climate solutions in the forest, food and land sectors. In fact, the latest scientific research shows that, by 2030, at least 30% of the Paris objective can be met through scaling-up efforts to halt deforestation, promote forest restoration, and develop climate-smart agriculture and food systems – essentially, by achieving the goals of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF). As we accelerate efforts to decarbonize our economies, we need to use every tool in the toolbox, including natural climate solutions, to minimize the catastrophic impacts of climate change. So, why are many of these ‘ready-to-use’ natural climate solutions not fully utilized? Why do they receive less than 3% of climate finance, globally?
This month, these questions are being posed, in the form of a challenge, to the participants at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco. Leaders from businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens, will be challenged to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, and land management, to deliver 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030. This is the 30x30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge.
The goal of GCAS is to “Take Ambition to the Next Level” and it will be the first-ever climate action summit focused on communities, citizens and the private sector rather than national governments. It is an opportunity to showcase new voices and new actions, while also demonstrating real progress on the ground, from renewable energy to clean transportation to forest, land and food system solutions. With its objective to heighten ambition and inspire more action among all stakeholders, it is fully aligned with the NYDF and provides an excellent opportunity for more governments, companies, and institutions to formally endorse the NYDF, as part of their response to the 30x30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge.
Most of us are familiar with the role of that national governments play in combatting climate change: setting national policy through laws and regulations, negotiating international climate agreements, mobilizing international climate finance, etc. However, "non-state actors" – including city, state or provincial government, companies, financial institutions and investors, universities, indigenous peoples, civil society, faith-based and non-governmental organizations – have, independently and collectively, tremendous power to affect real change. Non-state actors are a crucial part of the solution to climate change. And, as reflected in the multi-stakeholder endorsement of the NYDF, many non-state actors have taken up leadership roles in advancing forest-based solutions.
GCAS presents a multi-stakeholder, high-profile opportunity for non-state actors and their national government partners to highlight achievements, effective and scalable actions, and commitments toward reducing deforestation and increasing forest restoration. An entire day at the Summit is dedicated to forests and other natural climate solutions. The Forests, Food and Land Day occurs on September 12, in the historic Herbst Theater where the United Nations Charter was signed in 1945. We can expect new announcements from companies about committing to deforestation-free supply chains, and we can look forward to NYDF partners sharing their experience in greening their supply chains. We will learn from farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses on climate-friendly agriculture techniques. We will hear from indigenous peoples and policymakers on sustainable land management planning. The day will undoubtedly demonstrate that natural climate solutions can be pursued effectively, immediately and at scale.
Through the 30 by 30 challenge and the ongoing efforts under the NYDF, domestic and international pressure is mounting to enhance efforts to harness the potential of forests, food, and land in combating climate change over the next decade. The Summit is an important opportunity to raise awareness across a wide range of climate actors, global and local, that forests represent a critical piece of the climate solution, but which seem to have been largely forgotten in national climate plans and international climate finance. Scaling-up of action in the food, forests, and land sector is vital to addressing climate change in the near and long term, and individuals and actors at all levels have a role to play. Don’t let nature be #theForgottenSolution.
About the Author
Peter Graham is Managing Director of Policy and Research at Climate Advisers, where he specializes in forests and land issues.
Follow Peter on Twitter @flyingforester
To find more blog posts, visit the NYDF Blog.