Governors Solidify Partnerships & Pledges in Forest Conservation & Low Carbon Development at COP 23

Nov 21, 2017

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BONN, GERMANY – November 21, 2017 – Governors from the world’s largest tropical forest regions, all members of the  Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force, ushered in new climate commitments and partnerships to help curb tropical deforestation. With 38 members from 10 mainly tropical forest countries, the GCF has become the world’s largest network dedicated to promoting subnational leadership on tropical forest and climate issues.

Roraima (Brazil), Caquetá (Colombia) and Pastaza (Ecuador) signed the GCF’s landmark commitment, the Rio Branco Declaration, which aims to reduce deforestation in states and provinces by 80% by the year 2020. Caquetá, Pastaza, and the Peruvian regions of Amazonas and Huanuco also signed the California-led Under 2 MOU, committing to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions towards net-zero by 2050 through pathways planning, innovative policy solutions, and measurement of their progress along the way. At the Under 2 Coalition event, Governor Brown of California stressed, “Humanity is on a collision course with nature. These meetings at the summit are diverse efforts to mobilize the political will to do what we need to do.” But Brown also observed, “signing a piece of paper is nice, but getting stuff done is better.”

And GCF members are doing just that. They highlighted their concrete actions at the GCF official side event co-hosted with Earth Innovation Institute (EII) and Pronatura-Sur, which include public-private partnerships to advance sustainable production. Bjorn Rask-Thomsen, CEO of Denofa, stressed the value of government-food industry collaborations, which bring about “clear support for farmers and indigenous peoples.” Francisca Arara, Coordinator for the Organization of Indigenous Professors of Acre (OPIAC), emphasized the importance of the government of Acre’s approach to partnering with indigenous communities, “in Acre, we do things differently…We are consulted and we are respected.”

At Amazon Bonn Day, GCF Governor Tião Viana of Acre (Brazil), with 87% of its forests still standing, along with GCF Governor Pedro Taques of Mato Grosso (Brazil), which is Brazil’s leader in agricultural production, entered into the second phase of a partnership with the governments of Germany and the United Kingdom. The two governments awarded Acre and Mato Grosso nearly 75 million euros for successfully reducing deforestation. The funding, which will be provided through the German Development Bank (KfW) REDD Early Movers Program, will be applied to poverty alleviation and sustainable production programs.

Chiapas, Mexico also made a commitment to restore 170,000 hectares of forest land by 2020 within the framework of the Bonn Challenge, an ambitious pact for forest restoration that further values the contribution of tropical forests to climate change mitigation. Chiapas joined the states of the Yucatan Peninsula as the only subnational governments to make commitments in this international initiative.

At the COP, the GCF also teamed up with Earth Innovation Institute (EII), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Forest TrendsPrograma Regional de Investigación sobre Desarrollo y Medio Ambiente (PRISMA), and the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forest (AMPB) to host a workshop between GCF governmental actors and indigenous and community-level leaders. Indigenous leaders from Acre (Brazil), California, as well as pan-Amazonian organizations like Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) and OPIAC met with governmental leaders to lay the groundwork for regional strategies and global working group for conserve forests and the represent the interests of those living in, and subsisting on, the forest. A new video produced by EII highlights the Power of Partnerships as a tool to protect forests by building relationships between governments and indigenous peoples.

GCF and EII facilitated a second workshop, which united representatives from leading international consumer goods companies, commodity traders, civil society organizations, and governmental leaders to harmonize private-public strategies that eliminate commodity-driven deforestation. A Global Steering Committee will be formalized in early 2018 to address forest loss from agriculture – responsible for 80% of all deforestation globally.

The GCF’s activities at the COP culminated in a roundtable featuring eight governors and seven other leaders representing civil society, the private sector, subnational governmental agencies, and donors who are forming partnerships to reduce deforestation. Governor Fernando Melendez of Loreto (Peru) highlighted his region’s recent land titling efforts, with dozens of native communities receiving titles to tens of thousands of hectares of land during 2017. Governor Victor Noriega of San Martin (Peru) discussed how San Martin’s recently launched public-private coalition will take steps towards implementation in 2018, seeking to promote rural development while tackling local drivers of deforestation.

Governor Tião Viana (Acre, Brazil) summarized the importance of subnational voices at the COP: “What are we seeing here? A worldwide agenda where nations cease to have the only word, and the states represent the countries in establishing dialogues, reflections, pacts, and achieving results. And this is what Acre is doing, we are one of the leaders in a planet that might not have enough time left to protect us from the ecological tragedy that is happening, that has happened and that is underway.” At Amazon Bonn day, Governor Simão Jatene of Pará agreed: “The generic medicine of “command and control” administered by national governments is not sufficient. We need specific medicine [to address the problem of tropical deforestation]; we need a knowledge revolution, a production revolution [oriented towards green economies] and new forms of governance that stress collaboration.”

Additional coverage in Spanish can be found at: LA PRENSA and Latinformation News.