Day 3 at CoP26 – #NaturePositive highlights

News 04.11.21

Tackling deforestation: A clear way forward for financial institutions

This news piece is an excerpt from the COP26 Daily Newsletter that Nature4Climate is publishing.

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We’re officially into the second half of the first week. Does anyone else have sore feet yet?

Yesterday, the NBS Daily newsletter drilled down into the range of NBS announcements, but it’s worth lifting our view back to the broader view of the COP and acknowledge a number of other recent announcements coming out of Glasgow, including the Global Methane Pledge, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) $130 trillion aligned for net-zero, the High Ambition Coalition’s call for 1.5 targets, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s manifesto, to name a few.

Within the nature zone, N4C has been impressed with how consistently we have been hearing the message that while NBS are critical, they must always be in addition to, and never instead of industrial emissions. Our very own James Lloyd makes this point very nicely in a piece on Nature at COP published in the Independent yesterday.

The positive reactions to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use continues, although media coverage has reflected questions raised by some surrounding the lack of detail on how the implementation of the agreement will be tracked, or what, if anything, might happen if nations renege on the promise. This is understandable given the history of the failure of governments and companies to fully follow through with their previous declarations and commitments to halt and reverse the rate of global deforestation. But, as discussed yesterday, there are reasons for optimism, not least of which is the unprecedented financial commitments underlying these pledges.

Day 3 was Finance Day, and a range of events unpacked the big finance commitments we saw yesterday. So with that, let’s dive in.

Key announcements

Integrity of carbon markets 
The Nature Zone event on delivering high-integrity, inclusive carbon markets drew quite a crowd, and spurred an action by Greenpeace. Before the event started, it was hard to predict how the whole affair would unfold. While Bloomberg reported that the panel was “interrupted” by Greta Thunberg and other activists, in fact, thanks to Manual Pulgar-Vidal, who did an artful job as moderator of setting a tone of listening and dialogue, the session was productive and engaging. Last minute changes to the agenda accommodated comments and questions from Greenpeace’s Jennifer Morgan and Action Aid’s Teresa Anderson. We strongly encourage you to watch the full session [scroll to the 6:47:00 mark]. Some the key messages delivered by the panel included: integrity must come before scale; we must learn from past mistakes and recognize what’s been done in a bad way; we must also look forward and work together to shape the future of a high integrity and inclusive market; and that carbon markets, if done right, can hold companies to account to compensate for all their emissions on the path to absolute zero.

Finance Sector Roadmap 
Following the major investor commitment yesterday, the Finance & Deforestation Advisory Group (a partnership including Nature4Climate, Conservation International, Global Canopy, High-Level Climate Champions team​, WEF Tropical Forest Alliance​, and the Head of Environmental Issues, Principles for Responsible Investment) released the Finance Sector Roadmap to help guide investors on how to turn their pledges into action. The roadmap recommends the key steps needed for financial institutions to eliminate commodity-driven deforestation, conversion, and associated human rights abuses from their portfolio by 2025. Read more about it in this blog from Dr. Leah Samberg (Rainforest Alliance), Sarah Rogerson (Global Canopy) and Stephanie Kimball (Conservation International).

Intelligence Platform 
Capital for Climate launched its climate-investment intelligence platform. The Capital for Climate intelligence platform enables allocators to see the landscape of climate investment opportunities in one place—so that they can build strategy, navigate, source, and execute on investments aligned with science-based pathways to holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The pilot version focuses on nature-based solutions in Regenerative and Sustainable Agriculture, Forests, Land Use, and the Blue Economy. For the purposes of the pilot launch, the platform has focused on these areas because they are strategic, urgent, and offer investment opportunities today–yet are the least understood by investors.

NGFS statement
The Co-Chairs of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action (the Coalition), and the Chair of the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), issued a joint statement to reaffirm their commitment to mobilizing their organizations to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the statement, they pledge to “strive to better reflect cross-cutting issues related to agriculture, forests and other land uses in our work.” Here’s our take. The statement provides a welcome signal for financial system transformation, via regulators, to take into account the value of healthy forest ecosystems, and nature in general, for supporting resilient financial systems. While it is good to see that the potential significant economic and financial threats from nature loss were acknowledged, we need to see these priorities implemented in the form of financial regulations that aim to mitigate risks from forests, food, and land use and incorporate this sector into stress tests and forward-looking scenario assessments. Regulators need to provide a complete picture of long-term financial risk from nature loss and act on it.

LEAF takes step toward implementation 
The LEAF Coalition hosted a signing ceremony in the US Center with Ecuador, Ghana and Nepal, who signed some of the first LOIs with Emergent to provide verified emission reductions to LEAF. The event was kicked off by US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, who said that deforestation is not a long-term problem; it is a “now” problem, which is why a results-driven, public-private initiatives like LEAF is so important. Ecuador’s Minister of Environment, Gustavo Manrique, said, “We have the new currency that the world needs. I’m not talking about Bitcoin, I’m talking about biodiversity.”

Building consensus on “high-integrity” tropical forest credits
Defining what “high-integrity” tropical forest credits look like is critical to mobilizing finance to protect forests at a large scale, reduce emissions to the level the world needs, and support the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. EDF, COICA, IPAM, TNC, and WCS convened an event to discuss how companies can approach investments in high-integrity credits to ensure best outcomes for people and the planet, shedding light on an ongoing process to build consensus among these organizations and others for what “high-integrity” credits from tropical forest protection look like. We look forward to tracking this process.

US Commitment on Forests
The US hosted an event to provide more detail on the pledge announced by President Biden yesterday. It reinforced that there is a (more or less) whole of government recognition and interest in the forest agenda, specifically as packaged in The Forest Plan, from the White House, State Department, USAID, Treasury and Development Finance Corporation. The message from Special Envoy Kerry is that the US understands that the scale of action now must be commensurate with the scale of the problem, and that mobilizing the private sector – in investment and trade – is a key part of the solution. The event officially introduced the Forest Investor Club with remarks by Rick Saines of Pollination and Mark Wishnie of BTG Pactual.

Regen10 was announced on Tuesday. It is an ambitious collective action plan to scale regenerative food production systems, worldwide, in a decade. The initiative will put farmers at the heart of a global effort to transform agricultural systems, so that by 2030, over 50% of the world’s food can be produced in a way that drives positive outcomes for people, for nature, and for climate. A broad alliance has come together to deliver the initiative, including: World Farmers Organisation, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, Food & Land Use Coalition, World Bank Group, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), SYSTEMIQ, IMAGINE, We Mean Business Coalition, Future Stewards, OP2B, Sustainable Food Trust (Global Farm Metric), and Club of Rome.

Finally, here’s a final report on NBS-related statements in Tuesday’s high-level plenary:

  • Tanzania: currently have 48 million hectares forests in conservation; reforestation rate raised 2% to 27% in 2020, planting 276 million trees planted/year
  • Romania: using nature-based solutions; commits to 57,000 hectares of new forest to combat climate change and desertification
  • Guyana: “Forests constitute a powerful arsenal in the fight against climate change. Forest countries must be provided with incentives necessary to keep forests intact, to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.” Committed to maintaining Guyana’s forests, by working with local communities in conserving, protecting, and sustainably managing forests
  • Argentina: have proposed new parliamentary law to illegalise deforestation and a bill for minimum budget for environmental subsidies for native forests
  • Sierra Leone: emphasized the importance of conservation and protection of habitats and natural resources, and the use of community-based adaptation strategies; commitment to restore 960,000 hectares of depleted forest
  • Angola: embrace mangrove protection and restoration, with national plan to replant mangroves across the national coastline; agreement with International Conservation Fund to ensure the protection of two national parks
  • Madagascar: emphasized the importance of the energy transition for forest protection in Africa, where 90% of households use charcoal to cook their food and every year, 1 family destroys 1 hectare of forest
  • Comoras: committed to One Comorian One Tree Initiative to reforest 10% of national territory; commitment to ensure 30% of land is forested by 2030
  • Japan: committed to providing financial assistance $240 million for forestry-related activities
  • Norway: committed to continue to preserve tropical forests and promote sustainable forestry and agriculture
  • Croatia: emphasized the importance of protection of nature and sustainable forestry management; committed to 30% of the sea under national protection, planting 1 million trees annually by 2030, and increasing firefighting capabilities to help regional firefighting in the Mediterranean
  • Bahamas: recognized the importance of blue carbon
  • Mozambique: invested in the sustainable development of forests as carbon sinks

This news piece is an excerpt from the COP26 Daily Newsletter that Nature4Climate is publishing. Sign up here to get the full newsletter direct to your inbox.