Day 6 at COP – a reflection on Nature Day

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

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Welcome to the second week of COP. Hoping that everyone was able to find a few restful moments over the weekend. I don’t know about you, but I’m still processing all the announcements, events and media coverage from the first week – including all of those from Nature Day (see below).
Over the first seven days of COP26 coverage, there were more than 4,100 articles and broadcast clips from top news outlets that mention deforestation and more than 3,400 that mention nature.

The events are another matter. If you are on the ground in Glasgow, it’s likely that you’ve only been able to attend a small fraction of those you would have liked to. To help out, N4C is pulling together the recordings of as many of the key NBS COP events as possible as part of a new resource on our website. So fear not, you’ll be able to go back and watch (or re-watch) when things calm down. Keep your eyes peeled for the link later in the week.

I also want to reflect briefly on some of the competing media narratives that are already beginning to emerge. Over the weekend, many activists took to the streets to demand more climate action, adding much needed urgency and scrutiny to the process. But I have to say that the declarations by some of “hot air,” “greenwashing” and “failure” simply do not align with the experience I have had at the Conference so far. While it is certainly true that we must demand more detail for how high-level pledges will translate into action on the ground, and that vigilance and accountability will be required moving forward, I firmly believe that there is great cause for optimism and excitement.

The sophistication of approaches, the breadth of the science, the insistence on environmental and socials guardrails, the understanding of what integrity looks like, the recognition of the roles and rights of IPLCs, and the demand that NBS must be “in addition to” industrial emission reductions, not to mention the scale of new finance to put all of this into action, is simply lightyears beyond where we were even a couple years ago. And it is this innovation, passion and insight that I am seeing day-to-day within the Blue and Green Zones in Glasgow.

So let’s continue to push back against simple soundbites (which my colleague James Lloyd predicted in a recent article) and join us as we continue to unpack the nuance and detail surrounding the nature-related announcements at COP, and what they mean for climate action, biodiversity and support for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Nature Day Round Up

New analysis from Energy Transitions Commission

Adair Turner presented the Energy Transitions Commission’s analysis of how the latest pledges from the first week of COP26 might help to close the gap to a 1.5°C pathway. “Well the good news – potentially – is a big step forward in nature, with a commitment to end deforestation which, if supported by appropriate finance and delivered, would itself result in 3.5 gigatons of emissions reductions. That commitment is a huge step forward: delivering it a crucial priority.”

Nature pledges surpass $20 billion 
Canada announced that it will allocate at least 20% of its $5.3 billion climate finance commitment—about a total of $1 billion—to nature-based climate solutions with biodiversity co-benefits in developing countries over the next five years.

£500 million for FACT Roadmap
A £500m UK funding package — drawn from the £3 billion International Climate Finance committed for nature and biodiversity — was announced to fund a second phase of the Investment in Forests & Sustainable Land Use (IFSLU) programme, which will support the delivery of the FACT Roadmap. The FACT roadmap identifies actions on four critical and related areas of work which are central to achieving the FACT Dialogue’s overall objectives: trade and market development, smallholder support, traceability and transparency, and research, development and innovation. This roadmap puts countries on a path to ending deforestation whilst promoting sustainable trade and development. FACT, co-chaired by the UK and Indonesia, was launched in February 2021 and brings together 28 of the largest consumer and producer governments of beef, soy, cocoa and palm oil.  They have collaborated to ensure that these goods can be traded in a way which strengthens economic development, food security and improves livelihoods – while avoiding deforestation that causes climate change and biodiversity loss.

Other components of the UK’s £3 billion
The UK also outlined a range of new funding commitments from the £3 billion fund for nature, including:

  • Nearly £25 million out of the £150 million from BEIS’ Mobilising Finance for Forests (MFF) programme will be invested to develop sustainable supply chains in tropical countries
  • An investment of over £38 million into a new global research initiative through the world’s leading agricultural research organisation, the CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), to address the climate crisis and protect nature while advancing gender equality, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security
  • A contribution up to £40 million of international climate finance to establish the Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate. The Global Centre will address critical research gaps in how the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity can deliver climate solutions and improve livelihoods in developing countries

New IPLC Research
New research maps out 958 million hectares (mha) of Indigenous and community territories as containing over 250 billion metric tonnes of carbon. However, these communities only have legally recognized rights to less than half of this area (447 mha), jeopardizing the landscapes they protect as well as the 130 billion metric tonnes of carbon contained therein. These landscapes are held and managed by Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Afro-descendant Peoples (ADPs), and local communities (LCs) in 24 of the world’s most forested countries and 60% of the planet’s tropical forest area. Failure to recognise their rights exposes them, their territories, and the carbon and biodiversity they hold to increasing threats of deforestation and degradation, potentially accelerating emissions from a carbon pool equivalent 15 times the world’s 2020 energy-related Co2 emissions.

Restore Africa 
The Global EverGreening Alliance and Climate Asset Management, announced a partnership to deliver a landmark $USD 150 million nature-based carbon programme in Africa. The Restore Africa programme aims to restore more than two million hectares of land and directly support two million smallholder farms in the next five years across six African countries – Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The programme connects the local efforts of farmers on the ground with new revenue streams from global carbon markets. Building on the existing investments of smallholder farms and NGOs to restore degraded ecosystems, the Global EverGreening Alliance will support farmers to adopt regenerative and other sustainable land management practices that sequester GHG emissions at scale. Climate Asset Management – a partnership between HSBC Asset Management and Pollination – intends to provide the financing required to implement these activities, against the forward volume of carbon credits expected to be produced. Under the model, investors in Climate Asset Management’s Nature Based Carbon Strategy would receive the carbon credits generated, as their return.

UK corporate commitments 
Nearly 100  high-profile UK companies agreed to work towards halting and reversing the decline of nature by 2030 and commit to getting ‘Nature Positive’. This includes OVO Energy announcing its commitment to plant one million trees in the UK within the next year and Severn Trent pledging to restore over 2,000 acres of peatland across England and Wales by 2025. Burberry has also unveiled a new biodiversity strategy, which includes the assurance that all its key material will be 100% traceable by 2025, for instance, through sourcing more sustainable cotton, leather and wool, as well as recycled polyester and nylon. Commitments also included a pledge by Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose to cut their environmental impact across climate, deforestation and nature in a ‘Retailers Commitment for Nature’ with WWF.

Just Rural Transition 
The UK will also launch a £65 million Just Rural Transition support programme to help developing countries move towards more sustainable methods of agriculture and food production. This will include support to ensure that farmers are included in policy-making processes, including through consultations, trials and pilot programmes for new technologies and approaches. The UK also announced its support for the US/UAE-led Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) which will mobilise over £4 billion of new global public sector investment in agricultural innovation, research and development over the next five years with contributions from over 30 countries for public and private sector as well as knowledge partners

HAC for nature gets new members 
Madagascar, Nepal and Mauritania—three countries rich in biodiversity—announced their membership of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People (HAC). The group of 77 countries is pushing to ensure that 30×30 is a core element of a global biodiversity treaty to be finalized next year. Madagascar and Mauritania are among the many African countries that have joined the HAC. Nepal joins other South Asia members, including Pakistan, the Republic of Bhutan and India, which joined the HAC in October 2021.

Global Youth Position Statement on NbS
The Global Biodiversity Youth Network, Youth4Nature, and YOUNGO released the Global Youth Position Statement on NbS to decision-makers and policy-makers at the UNFCCC COP26 in the Nature Zone. The statement, which represents the input of over 1000 youth from 118 countries, is the result of a 5-month campaign to build a united youth voice, across both the climate and biodiversity movements, that clearly outlines how the global youth community understands NbS, and what is acceptable and not acceptable within NbS approaches, both in policy and on-the-ground action.

The Gilbert Initiative
A new UK Government initiative to transform climate-resilient food systems through research and innovation was announced. The Gilbert Initiative will coordinate investments in evidence generation, technology development and delivery to support a  food system that by 2030 feeds nine billion people with nutritious, safe foods; uses environmental resources sustainably; enhances resilience and adaptation to climate change; and generates inclusive growth and jobs.

LEAF – Interstate Consortium announcement
The LEAF Coalition announced today that the Interstate Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Legal Amazon has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Emergent, the US non-profit that serves as the administrative coordinator for the Coalition, to express mutual interest in future transactions between the states of the Legal Amazon and the LEAF participants. The Interstate Consortium was created in 2017 to help develop consensus and coordinate action among the nine Brazilian states that are part of the Legal Amazon. Eight of the nine states presented proposals to LEAF, all of which passed the initial technical assessment panel, and therefore have taken the first step to become eligible for transactions with potential buyers of carbon credits generated from emissions reductions.

Two Action Agendas launched
1/ A Global Action Agenda on Innovation in Agriculture was launched to transform food systems under climate change with support from more than 150 allies from governments, researchers, farmers and businesses. It will drive action to close the innovation gap that limits our efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change, while accelerating efforts towards greater food security around the world.

2/ The Policy Action Agenda  sets out pathways and actions that countries can take to repurpose public policies and support to food and agriculture, to deliver these outcomes and enable a just rural transition. It also sets out actions and opportunities for other stakeholders (international organisations, food producers, financial entities, researchers, civil society and others) to channel their expertise, knowledge and resources in support of this agenda.

Food systems transformation
A new global initiative launched to reach 100 million farmers at the centre of food systems transformation with net zero and nature positive innovations by 2030 via a multi-stakeholder platform convened by World Economic Forum (WEF)  involving farmers’ organisations, civil society, businesses and other partners.

Forest Sector Roadmap 
The Forest Solutions Group (FSG) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released the first report of the Forest Sector Net-Zero Roadmap, “Enabling the transition to a net-zero economy.” The report calls on policy makers, investors and forest product customers to leverage the potential of sustainable working forests and their products in the transition to a net-zero economy. The report was developed by FSG members in consultation with 21 stakeholders and support from PwC Canada. It describes the role of forests and forest products in supporting the transition towards a net-zero, nature positive, and equitable future “for 9+billion people to live well, within planetary boundaries, by 2050.” The Roadmap focuses on three levers that constitute the unique potential of the forest sector to support the net-zero transition.

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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