Unity at COP25: Working Together to Advance Subnational Climate Action

Dec 19, 2019

(MADRID, SPAIN) Last week, subnational leaders from around the world convened at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. Governors, secretaries of the environment, civil servants, indigenous leaders, and more from GCF Task Force member states and provinces in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, Colombia, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria gathered in Madrid to share their experiences and collaborate on joint climate action.


Throughout the week, we saw strategic coordination, integration, and unity between member states and provinces committed to advancing climate action prioritizing forest protection and low-emissions development.

Executive Committee Meeting

Executive Committee members. The Executive Committee is composed of representatives from Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, and at-large states, plus one coordinator from each region. The 2020 Chair of the Executive Committee is Eduardo Taveira, Secretary of the Environment of Amazonas, Brazil.

The GCF Task Force Executive Committee met on Sunday to discuss priorities for 2020. Dicussion topics included new membership criteria, institutional collaboration, and regional unity. Executive Committee members affirmed the importance of experiencing a shared identity—that is, connecting the environmental agenda to poverty alleviation while considering the political context and needs of each member state or province.


“We have two things in common: forests and poverty… The balance of alleviating poverty while keeping forests in good health is a problem which really unites us together.” —Eduardo Taveira, Secretary of the Environment of Amazonas and 2020 Chair of the GCF Task Force Executive Committee

Climate Pathways Project

Rishi Das, Program Officer for the Climate Pathways Project, facilitated the meeting with representatives from The Climate Group, Mexico, Peru, and Brazil.

GCF Task Force member states participated in a meeting on the Under 2 Coalition Climate Pathways Project to discuss progress on the development of greenhouse gas emissions baselines up to 2050, and to preview the 2020 schedule of activities for the project. Environmental secretaries from Amazonas and Mato Grosso (Brazil), Quintana Roo and Queretaro (Mexico), and governors from Madre de Dios and San Martín (Peru) attended the meeting and participated in the discussion highlighting opportunities and challenges, and expressing commitments to engage in the Pathways project. In early 2020, participating GCF Task Force member states will hold workshops to finalize their 2050 green gas emissions baseline trajectories.

Welcome Reception

Governors, delegates, civil servants, indigenous leaders, partners, and more gathered together to kick off the week by celebrating the unity of the GCF Task Force network.

Governors & Partners Meeting

Governors spoke with Norway’s International Climate & Forest Initiative (NICFI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, ART-TREES, Conservation International, Tropical Forest Alliance, and Shell to discuss strategic priorities for forest conservation in their regions. Participants emphasized the necessity to move forward on environmental and social initiatives with comprehensive stakeholder inclusion, noting civil society, the private sector, and governments must act together to advance forest conservation through low-emissions development strategies. Speakers emphasized the required urgency for collective climate action.

“Subnational governments are the best innovators of forest conservation” —Michael Northrop, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

“We need to put our feet on the ground and start to work jointly with the countries that are not only Brazilian and Peruvian—we are thinking about Mexico, Indonesia, and our brothers from the Congo” —Governor Oscar Altamirano Quispe of Amazonas, Peru

“Alone we are weak, but together we can create a meaningful difference” —Governor Waldez Goés of Amapá, Brazil


Global Committee for Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities Meeting

Members of the Global Committee for Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities (IP/LC Global Committee) are working hard to determine the most effective structure of representation and governance for global and regional mobilization and climate action. The committee is working to enhance connectivity between indigenous leaders and environmental secretaries in each region, as well as to devise a robust strategy for implementing and monitoring the implementation of the Guiding Principles for Collaboration & Partnership between Subnational Governments, Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities.



COP25 Side Event: This is What Implementation Looks Like

At our official side event co-hosted by Pronatura Sur on Monday, Governors from Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Indonesia presented experiences from their states on how they are implementing innovative forest and climate solutions. Governors are working not only within their own states and provinces, but jointly within their regions and throughout the GCF Task Force network. Plus, key partners and institutions are leveraging support for subnational efforts—“Subnational level is fundamentally necessary to reach our goals when it comes to addressing climate change and the preservation of nature… Between 50-80% of the mitigation strategies necessary to address climate change needs to happen at the subnational level,” proclaimed Ola Evestuen, Norway’s Minister of Climate & the Environment during the opening of the event.

“We have a very important task ahead of us—you as governors are crucial for the world to reach its goals on climate change” —Ola Evestuen, Norway’s Minister of Climate & the Environment

Governor Wilson Miranda Lima of Amazonas, Brazil, announced the 2020 GCF Task Force Annual Meeting in Manaus, Amazonas, from May 4th – May 7th.

A full house gathered to hear the Governors speak on Monday.


Deforestation-Free Tequila at the House of México

At the House of México in Madrid, Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez of Jalisco signed an agreement with C.R. Tequila endorsing a joint agenda to reduce the environmental impact of the tequila sector in Mexico from cultivation to production. This is part of a new overarching initiative from the Government of Jalisco to certify commodity production as deforestation-free at the jurisdictional level and will be supported by GCF Task Force’s Mexican Regional Steering Committee on Agricultural Production in the coming year.

Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez presenting the Deforestation-Free Tequila Agreement with a representative of C.R. Tequila.

Amazon-Madrid Legal Amazon Governors’ Forum

The Interstate Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Legal Amazon held a two-day event featuring all nine governors of the legal Amazon. Panels throughout the event highlighted the perspectives and commitments of the Governors for low-emissions development in the Brazilian Amazon, the role and commitments of businesses, partner organizations, national and international leaders, and the green economy in the Amazon—strategies that combine low-emissions development and forest protection.

Building the future of the Colombian Amazon: The Low Carbon development strategy of Caquetá

The Government of Caquetá shared their experiences with advancing policies, alliances and interventions towards building a low-carbon development strategy in the state while improving the livelihoods the communities within the Colombian Amazon. During the event, Caquetá issued a call to the international community and the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, emphasizing that the department has generated enabling conditions to implement effective climate change mitigation strategies towards fulfilling Colombia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Caquetá’s efforts are focused on nature-based solutions including reducing deforestation and functional forest restoration. The event also highlighted a new partnership between Caquetá and Quintana Roo, Mexico that has evolved through support from the GCF Task Force in 2019 in partnership with UNDP. Quintana Roo delegate Rafael Robles participated on the panel and discussed the importance of his state’s south-south cooperation with the department of Caquetá.

Gender & the GCF Task Force

Nearly forty women from GCF Task Force member states and provinces, partner organizations and research institutions gathered to strategize on how to increase gender awareness and action across the GCF Task Force and how to use our subnational network to advance the role of women in the forest and climate agenda. As leaders, professionals, experts, and change-makers, women in the GCF Task Force are powerful catalysts of change and are stepping up across the globe to advance inclusive climate action.

“We don’t treat women as separated from men. Women are the forefront of this forest agenda globally… We aren’t here because we are women, we are here because we are competent” —Francisca Arara, Head of Department, IMC Climate Change Institute

Women from government, partner organizations, research institutions, NGOs, indigenous organizations, and the GCF Task Force Secretariat gathered to strategize on gender policy and women’s advancement in the forest and climate agenda.

Climate Actions for All: Time, Scale, and Impact with Kalimantan, Indonesia

Governor Isran Noor from East Kalimantan and Governor Dr. H. Irianto Lambrie from North Kalimantan spoke at the Indonesia Pavilion on Wednesday to present progress in their provinces on emissions reductions and forest protection programs. In North Kalimantan and East Kalimantan, emissions reductions programs focus on reducing plantation-driven deforestation by increasing the productivity of existing plantations, increasing smallholder capacity, increasing private sector engagement, and monitoring plantation and forest areas. This work in North and East Kalimantan is complemented by the work of the GCF Task Force Steering Committee for Sustainable Agriculture Indonesia (SCAI), whose primary focus for the period 2020-2022 will be facilitating legal access to smallholder oil palm farmers in forested areas.

Governor Dr. Ir. H. Irianto Lambrie (North Kalimantan) and Governor Isran Noor (East Kalimantan).

View all photos from COP25 here.

The GCF Task Force thanks all Governors, members, delegates, and partners for convening in Madrid to affirm their commitments to advancing the forest and climate agenda. Our events were made possible by generous support from Norad, NICFI, UNDP, and Pronatura Sur throughout the week.