A total of 110 world leaders have made the pledge to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 and promised $19.2 billion in private and public funds to invest in the protection and restoration of forests – #COP26.
Pledges and promises mean nothing when they include non-binding agreements. World leaders proved this before when they failed the 2014 NYDF (New York Declaration on Forests), which promised to half deforestation by 2020 and halt it in 2030. Deforestation did not only continue as it did before; it had accelerated to a 12-year high in 2020.
Today’s deal may reflect a growing recognition of nature’s role in addressing global warming but still lacks ambition and action to reduce the demand for industrially produced meat, leather and dairy, which are a huge driver of deforestation. Only 28 countries have committed to ending deforestation in the supply chain of food and other agricultural products such as soy, palm oil and cocoa.
The deal allows another decade of forest destruction, pocket filling and the exploitation of marginalised societies. Indigenous peoples and local communities may receive a $1.7 billion fund to recognise their crucial role in protecting the land and forests, but without assurance that the funds won’t end up in the pockets of those that destroy it.
“Anything later than now, too little, too late” – to coin a phrase (Yrsa Daley-Ward). The Amazon rainforest is already in a fragile state and can’t survive another decade of slash and burn, and the Congo rainforest is heavily under threat. Until we put a full stop to deforestation, the rights of Indigenous People’s will be threatened, and forest biomes will be destroyed rather than given the opportunity to restore.
Together, we must keep the pressure on our leaders to deliver more than non-binding pledges and not accept anything less than immediate climate action. The current pledges can be seen as a distraction to delay the urgently needed climate action, which is something our climate, biodiversity and the #MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas) can’t afford.