COP26 marks a pivotal moment for countries to set ambitious trajectories to build a sustainable world. Forests are the natural climate solution with the largest mitigation potential. The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) remains one of the most comprehensive frameworks for forest action. As demonstrated in the announcement of the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use on Monday, 1 November, leaders across the globe are reaffirming their commitment to end deforestation by 2030, as reflected in the NYDF.
On 5 November 2021, the New York Declaration on Forests Global Platform hosted an event at the Global Landscapes Forum Climate conference - Forests, Food, Finance: Frontiers of Change - during COP26 in Glasgow. This event - NYDF: A Renewed Call to Action – was structured to address the urgent call for action on forest commitments and progress towards the NYDF goals.
Three key themes were emphasized during the event: accountability, access, and action – all which underscore and reflect the discussions and commentary shared throughout COP26. First, ensuring accountability of world leaders, the private sector, and decision-makers on meeting the pledges made during COP is essential to meet critical forest and climate targets in the next 9 years. Next, as the panelists reminded the audience, these decisions cannot be made behind closed doors and must include Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as well as youth to ensure Indigenous- and youth-led solutions are supported, implemented, and especially, financed to secure a future for all. Finally, while these commitments are a positive step towards recognizing the important role forests play in climate, biodiversity, and securing livelihoods, they are not enough. Action on these commitments, including securing additional finance, must be scaled up and implemented in order to meet the NYDF goals and the Paris Agreement targets.
The event opened with Sanggeet Manirajah from Climate Focus, representing the NYDF Assessment Partners, who presented on the newly-launched NYDF Progress Assessment report, providing a data-based overview of progress and recommendations for countries to implement forest-based mitigation actions outlined in the Paris Agreement and NDCs and to ensure the robust participation of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
Next, the audience heard perspectives from governments and the private sector on their efforts to meet the NYDF goals so far and the progress they have made. These included:
These statements, and the many commitments presented in the first week of COP26, were accompanied with strong appeals from Indigenous Peoples, youth, and civil society to ensure accountability, access, and action on these commitments. Grace Balawag, Indigenous leader representing Tebtebba, stressed that Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities must be given a seat at the table in decision-making processes, funding for forests flow directly to communities, and a human-rights based approach be upheld to achieve global forest goals. Building on these requests, Oluwaseum Adekugbe from Youth4Nature called for enhanced accountability and monitoring of global and national forest commitments, the inclusion of youth in decision-making processes, and direct financial flows to youth who are at the frontlines of tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. Finally, Susan Lieberman at WCS forewarned of the need to ensure the preservation of intact forests and tackling the issue of nature crime, stating that the interlinkage between weak governance and regulation and environmental destruction cannot be ignored and urging that coordinated and holistic solutions be utilized to protect forests for climate, biodiversity, and people.
The event closed with remarks from Norbert Gorissen from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety who emphasized five key actions in the next decade: (1) including forest protection in climate goals, (2) making sustainable consumption a reality, (3) removing deforestation-related activities from investment portfolios, (4) increasing private and public finance, and (5) improving accountability systems to meet the NYDF goals. In addition, he affirmed the importance of implementing Indigenous Peoples' rights and stressed the key role the NYDF Platform and Progress Assessment can play in increasing accountability and promoting collaboration.
Amidst the growing number of pledges and ambition on forests, this NYDF event elaborated on the need to shift from commitments to collective and bold action to protect, restore, and sustainably managing forests for people and the climate.
Related links and resources:
We affirm the need for high ambition and urgent action to turn the tide on deforestation and achieve this target. And we welcome the endorsers of the Glasgow Declaration to utilize the NYDF network as we shift from commitments to collective action. The NYDF offers ten goals as a framework to turn these commitments into reality and a multi-stakeholder community to support implementation and accountability.
Originally launched in 2014 at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) is a multi-stakeholder coalition comprised of governments, companies, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and non-governmental organizations to set forth a global framework for forest action to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. The ten goals of the Declaration seek to halt natural forest loss by 2030, restore 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands, improve governance and the rights of forest communities, increase financial flows to forests, and reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Yet, despite the ambitious forest agenda set out in 2014, the world is not on track to meet the overarching objective of the NYDF to halt deforestation by 2030. Now, making progress to meet existing forest commitments is more important than ever in this critical decade for climate action to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Protecting forests and avoiding deforestation and forest degradation contributes significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, provides biodiversity protection and ecosystem resilience, improves water security, and ensures sustainable livelihoods and access to food. Moreover, protecting forests reduces the risks of future pandemics and provides other essential health benefits.
However, according to the NYDF Progress Assessment, the global deforestation rate is currently around 10 million hectares per year. To counteract this, deforestation needs to decrease by nearly 1 million hectares per year to achieve the NYDF goal of ending deforestation by 2030.
This slow pace of progress catalyzed a process to update the NYDF goals and accompanying action agenda to enhance accountability in strengthening political will and accelerating action to meet the goals. This participatory refresh process was informed by experience from endorsers and partners; reflections of progress made by other forest-related commitments since 2014; considered new individual and collective commitments from governments, financial sector and the private sector; and recognizes the fundamental role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities as forest stewards.
It's worth noting that in the past five years, there have been several signs of progress: new pledges by financial institutions to increase forest-friendly investments; renewed commitments by companies to achieve deforestation-free supply chains; enhanced implementation of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) and access to results-based payments for forest countries; new regulations from governments that import forest-risk products to prioritize deforestation-free commodities; and more accountability tools for monitoring and to measuring progress towards these commitments. Yet, more urgent action is needed to protect and restore forests action to tackle the climate, biodiversity, and health crises the world is experiencing.
In response, the newly launched NYDF includes key updates such as
See the text of the Declaration below and here.
With these updates, the NYDF has re-opened the call to endorse the Declaration and will focus on increasing the number of endorsers from key sectors such as finance, non-agricultural industries, and from countries and jurisdictions that are not already represented in the NYDF but that have a large role to play. Ultimately, the revised goals provide a more relevant and inclusive framework for forest action.
The launch of the updated New York Declaration on Forests unites current and future endorsers to prioritize implementation and accountability of existing commitments to drive collective forest action. The NYDF Global Platform calls on companies, governments, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, Nongovernmental organizations, and key decision-makers and policymakers to commit to the New York Declaration on Forests and to make the ten goals a priority to ensure we can build a sustainable and regenerative world.
NYDF Refresh Launch Webinar: October 13, 2021
On October 13th, the NYDF Global Platform hosted a virtual webinar on the "refreshed" NYDF and invited participants from across various sectors of the NYDF community. The event was a tremendous success filled with critical insights from the outstanding panelists and speakers. Participants were joined by:
The full recording of the event can be viewed here.
Forests are essential to our future. People across the globe depend on forests for food, water, fuel, medicines, traditional cultures and livelihoods. Forests also support up to 80% of terrestrial biodiversity and play a vital role in safeguarding the climate by naturally sequestering carbon.Yet, each year an average of 10 million hectares of forest disappear, often with devastating impacts on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. The permanent conversion of forests for the production of agricultural commodities— such as soy, palm oil, beef and paper—accounts for roughly half of global deforestation. Infrastructure, urban expansion, energy, and mining all contribute to and often accelerate deforestation and forest degradation.
We, the endorsers, share the vision of slowing, halting, and reversing global forest loss while simultaneously enhancing food security for all. While progress is being made in many places, overall action has fallen short of the speed, scale, and finance required, including collective action to meet the NYDF goals. The years leading up to 2030 are critical for increasing ambitious, collective, and transformative action to deliver the NYDF goals.
Forests are essential for maintaining life and local livelihoods across the globe. Furthermore, reducing emissions from deforestation and increasing forest restoration is imperative for limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Forests represent one of the largest, most cost-effective climate solutions available today. Action to conserve, sustainably manage and restore forests can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law, food security, clean water, climate resilience and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and other ecosystem services. Strong forest governance is essential to protecting and sustainably managing the world’s forests, given Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities are the best defenders and protectors of forests. Centering Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities and traditional knowledge in solutions to address deforestation is essential for delivering the NYDF goals.
With our varying mandates, capabilities, and circumstances, collectively we commit to doing our part to achieve the following outcomes in partnership, including by ensuring that strong, large-scale economic incentives are in place commensurate with the size of the challenge:
Achieving these outcomes could achieve over 7 billion tons (CO2e) of cost-effective climate change mitigation per year by 2030. By working in partnership, we can achieve these collective goals and chart a new course toward conserving, restoring, and managing healthy forests for the benefit of all. We invite others to join us in committing to a world where people and forests grow together.