Day 11 at COP26 – #NaturePositive highlights

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

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Crunch Time

Here we are: Friday, Week 2, the last (official) day of the COP. I’d like to start by thanking all of our readers over the past two weeks, and especially those who reached out with tips, suggestions and information. This will be the last edition of our daily COP brief and next week we’ll return to our regularly-scheduled weekly newsletter – with a special focus on all things nature-related from COP. We hope this has been a useful resource for both those of you here in Glasgow, as well as readers monitoring progress from around the world. We will be following up shortly with a survey to find out what parts you found most helpful and what you’d like to see more of moving forward. Wishing those in Glasgow an early evening and safe travels home.

Lucy Almond, Chair, Nature4Climate 

Negotiations – State of Play
New draft cover decisions were just released (and are being reviewed as we write this), and we are expecting “near final” versions of all outstanding negotiation texts shortly. Ministers will meet in a stocktaking plenary at 11:00 GMT to make critical decisions on outstanding language, including within the Article 6 negotiations. The world is watching.

Pending deeper analysis, here’s the nature reference in the latest version of the COP decision, which drops the term “nature-base solutions” and adds reference to environmental and social safeguards.

Recognizing the interlinked global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and the critical role of protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems in delivering benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards

New version also includes:

Noting the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and also noting the importance for some of the concept of ‘climate justice’, when taking action to address climate change

Early Reflections 
We’re still waiting for the final gavel to fall on the COP outcome, after which we can expect a raft of commentary and analysis, including from N4C and our partners, about what it all means, and how the ‘Nature Positive’ agenda should be viewed within the bigger picture of the Glasgow summit. But for now, looking through the fog of two weeks of long days and late nights, we’d like to share a few initial NBS-related reflections on what we’ve seen at COP.

Historic moment. There are no two ways about it: COP26 was a historic moment for forests and nature.  For the first time in recent history, world leaders, financial institutions and companies have united on global goals to both halt deforestation and cut methane emissions. The levels of finance pledged surpasses USD $20 billion, and this is just part of the wide range of announcements that together signal a systemic shift to address unsustainable land use and accelerate a transition toward a low carbon, nature-positive and climate-resilient future. If you want a refresher on specific announcements made over the two weeks, go to our newsroom and comb through the past issues of the daily brief.

Turning words into action. Pledges are one thing, but there were strong and unified calls from both inside and outside the Blue Zone for detail and transparency about how commitments will be implemented, monitored and enforced. Statements coming out of both Indonesia and Brazil, which many have interpreted as backtracking, have caused a flurry of concerns as to whether Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land Use is just “more of the same,” citing 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. We believe it is far too early for such a prognosis and have outlined a number of reasons why we can and should expect it to be different this time. But we agree that vigilance and accountability are going to be critical moving forward.

IPLCs. This has also been the first COP to recognise and advance the roles and rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLC) as guardians of forests and nature through $1.7 billion of climate finance. There was also a significant focus on this topic in a range of events and interventions, bolstered by important new research. Yet, it is critical that this money is spent effectively and directly supports Indigenous and local communities. It is also critical that as the broader NBS community, we are united in our insistence that NBS be scaled and deployed with the full involvement and participation of these groups and communities.

Innovation and implementation. On the ground in Glasgow, we have been impressed by the innovation, energy and passion of NBS practitioners and stakeholders — governments, NGOs, companies, investors, Indigenous peoples, local communities, youth, standard setters, project developers, tech start-ups, ecopreneurs and more. By our count there were more than 270 events dedicated to NBS, and more than 100 interviews conducted in Nature’s Newsroom. We know it’s been too much for any one person to track in real time, so when you have a moment, we encourage you to go back and watch some of the fascinating interviews conducted by the team. We will also be posting the links to event recordings on our website, so you can catch up on what you missed. Keep your eyes peeled for this.

Carbon Markets. COP26 provided an important reminder of how easily carbon markets can be dragged down into a war of competing soundbites. This is a complex topic that requires nuanced discussion, which doesn’t always lend itself to simple communications. We were pleased to see that integrity was at the centre of many of the discussions of markets at COP, including the headline-grabbing session at the Nature Zone. But we were disappointed that little of this detail made it into mainstream media coverage. Those of us who believe that high-integrity markets can and must play a role in climate action, in addition to (not a replacement for) ambitious and urgent decarbonization, need to do more to not only explain the safeguards that must be put in place, but also to highlight what the world stands to gain from the proper deployment of this tool – in terms of benefits for both people, biodiversity and climate action. There will be more to follow on this front soon.

Food and agriculture. It was wonderful to see a number of announcements relating to food and agriculture at COP, including the new Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Roadmap for Action. In the corridors, we heard a number of conversations about the link between climate security and food security, and at N4C we note that more needs to be done by us in the year ahead to work with others to better link these two agendas.

NatureTech. NatureTech arrived at COP! This exciting new area brought together leading scientists and entrepreneurs to discuss how technology advances and other forms of innovation – whether that’s satellite monitoring, drone technology, AI, genomic sequencing, blockchain and new business models – can help to unlock the potential of nature-based solutions and move us towards a nature-positive future. If you’re still wondering what all this NatureTech stuff is about, have a read of this article by Lucy Almond or watch this recent Devex webinar on the topic.

Other NbS Announcements

Heat stress report for countries including Indonesia 
A study led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has, for the first time, highlighted how rising local temperatures – driven by tropical deforestation and exacerbated by global warming – are increasing heat stress-related deaths and unsafe working conditions for vulnerable communities in lower-latitude countries such as Indonesia.

‘Message in a Bottle’
On the penultimate day of COP26, scientists deployed plastic pollution tracking devices into the ocean around Scotland. The devices will help them understand how plastic bottles move in the ocean and their interaction with climate change impacts, wildlife and weather patterns.

The Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF)
The Responsible Commodities Facility (RCF) was launched yesterday. By partnering with actors involved with the soy supply chain, the RCF plans to provide funding for the production and trade of deforestation- and conversion-free (DCF) soy from the Cerrado region of Brazil. Soy buyers like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose, have all participated in the design of the RCF Cerrado Programme 1, so that this initiative can address their environmental objectives while producing large amounts of DCF soy. This program is part of the Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco (“IFACC”) launched earlier at COP.

VCM exceeds $1 billion on calendar year
Ecosystem Marketplace (EM) has prepared a special State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets (SOVCM) bulletin as an update to its first installment of SOVCM 2021 that was published on September 15th. With recently reported trades by EM Respondents, the VCM has exceeded the $1 billion market value milestone. The additional 59.1 MtCO2e of 2021 VCM carbon credit trades have a corresponding market value of $258.2 million.

Rwanda 
According to a news report, Rwanda has allocated 37.7 per cent of its land to conservation activities in part to maximise the economic benefits of nature-rich sites, according to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Please send us more details if you have them.

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.

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