Day 2 at CoP26 – Forests take centre stage

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It was hard not to feel the energy and enthusiasm in the conference venue yesterday in the midst of the raft of forest and nature announcements made during the UK Presidency’s dedicated high-level session. While many stressed the importance of translating these commitments into action, overall, the day was one of optimism and a general sense that we might, just might, be at a turning point in the fight to reverse the tide of deforestation and unlock the potential of nature-based solutions.

Following the first days of COP26, there has been widespread coverage on the deal to halt deforestation in major news outlets, including: BBC News, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, Sky News, Reuters, Bloomberg, CNN, The Financial Times and The Times. The deal has also been covered by key trade publications such as Euronews, BusinessGreen and The New Scientist. Commitments from the World Leaders Summit were splashed across the front pages of international outlets and broadcast stations across the world. Over the last 24 hours, within COP26 focused articles, the reference of ‘Indigenous’ increased by 219% in top media publications and the coverage of ‘deforestation’ doubled.

In today’s brief, we are going to focus on the high-level announcements made at the World Leaders’ Summit. Given the length, we will include other NBS news and updates from Day 2 of the COP in tomorrow’s brief.

Yesterday, we previewed some of the announcements in aggregate, and it is worth revisiting that newsletter to review those numbers. Today, we want to walk through the announcements one-by-one. It’s a long list, but this is important stuff. Get those thumbs ready for scrolling.

Forests take centre stage

More than 100 leaders committed to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 through the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.

Coverage in BBC, The Guardian and many other outlets. 

12 countries announced the Global Forest Finance Pledge (GFFP): $12 billion of climate finance to support activities including strengthening forest governance, supporting smallholder farmers to restore degraded land, strengthening land tenure systems, and mobilising private sector investment. The comprehensive package of funding will help countries to deliver commitments under the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use. The full list: Germany, Norway, UK, US, France, Japan, South Korea, Canada,  Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands and the European Commission (on behalf of EU).

Coverage in Reuters, Bloomberg and many other outlets. 

11 donor countries and the Bezos Earth Fund launched a Joint Statement on supporting the Congo Basin forests including an initial pledge of at least $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion) of financial support. The support announced yesterday, in partnership with Congo Basin countries, will support initiatives such as the Central African Forest Initiative, funding climate mitigation and adaptation and addressing the drivers of forest loss.

As part of the GFFP, President Biden pledged to work with Congress to set aside $9 billion to conserve and restore forests, including support for the Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks. We’ll have more analysis on this plan in a later issue of the daily brief.

Coverage in the Washington Post and USA Today

The UK, Norway, Germany, the US, and the Netherlands, in partnership with 17 funders, pledged to invest US $1.7 billion to help Indigenous and local communities protect the biodiverse tropical forests that are vital to protecting the planet from climate change, biodiversity loss, and pandemic risk. This represents a renewed collective effort to recognise and advance the forest and nature stewardship role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, with a particular focus on strengthening land tenure systems and rights.

Coverage in The Guardian and Climate Home

More than 30 leading financial institutions, collectively with over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management (including Aviva Plc, Storebrand Asset Management, Generation Investment Management, JGP Asset Management, NEI Investments, Impax Asset Management, Church Commissioners for England and Boston Common Asset Management) have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Coverage in the Financial Times and Washington Post

The LEAF Coalition (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) announced that it has mobilized $1 billion USD for countries and states committed to increasing ambition to protect tropical and sub-tropical forests and reduce deforestation. The Coalition also announced at COP26 that jurisdictions including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Nepal, and Vietnam will sign the first Letters of Intent (LOIs) with Emergent, acting as the transaction intermediary for the Coalition, signaling interest in reducing deforestation and receiving payments.

Coverage in Fast Company and Barron’s

Eight financial institutions and agribusiness companies have announced a commitment worth $3 billion – with more than $200 million in disbursements by 2022 – to soy and cattle production that is free of deforestation and land conversion in South America. The Innovative Finance for the Amazon, Cerrado and Chaco (IFACC) initiative’s goal is to reach $10 billion of commitments and $1 billion in disbursements by 2025. The companies include &Green Fund, AGRI3, DuAgro, Grupo Gaia, JGP Asset Management, Syngenta, Sustainable Investment Management and VERT.

Coverage in Mirage and Estadao

The Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Natural Capital Investment Alliance (“NCIA”), an organisation founded by HRH the Prince of Wales to boost private investment in natural capital, announced 12 new members and plans to mobilise $10 billion in private capital by the end of 2022.

Converge in Bloomberg and Investment Week

Jeff Bezos’ environmental nonprofit – the Bezos Earth Fund – announced US$2 billion divided equally to support land conservation and the transformation of food systems. The announcement by the fund comes just six weeks after it announced US$1 billion in conservation grants to protect and conserve nature and Indigenous peoples and cultures in the Congo Basin, the Andes, and the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Coverage in CNBC and the Financial Times

Nine multilateral development banks – including the World Bank – issued a joint statement that commits them to mainstream nature in their investments and in policy dialogue with countries. The Task Force for Climate-Related Disclosures will also strengthen guidance around reporting on emissions from agriculture, forestry and land use sector.

Coverage in UN News and the Jamaica Observer

The United States launched the Forest Investor Club.  This network of leading public and private financial institutions and other investors aims to unlock and scale up investments that support sustainable, climate-aligned outcomes in the land sector. These financial institutions and Network Partners are committed to increasing the scale and geographic scope of investment in restoration, conservation, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and green infrastructure. The United States also launched the Forest Finance Risk Consortium (FFRC).  The Consortium will bring together financial institutions and experts in forest monitoring and climate finance disclosure to better assess and disclose exposure to forest-related emissions in investment portfolios.

Coverage in Mirage

The new Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Roadmap for Action. Agreed by 28 producer and consumer countries including Indonesia, Colombia, Brazil and Ghana alongside the EU, UK and USA, responsible for 76% ($350 billion) of the world’s soy, palm, cocoa, beef and leather, timber, paper and pulp exports, it will accelerate actions that incentivise sustainability in the supply chain, support smallholder farmers to participate in markets, improve transparency of supply chains, and drive new technology and innovation. Alongside this, ten companies – including Cargill, Wilmar and Olam – managing over half of global trade in key commodities will commit to enhanced collaboration and the development of their own roadmap, delivered by COP27, to accelerate action on eliminating commodity-driven deforestation consistent with a 1.5°C pathway.

Coverage in Investment Week and MarketScreener.

There were a few moments that caused us to scratch our heads, such as when in his pre-recorded video yesterday President Bolsonaro mentioned a 2030 target for ending deforestation, but his statement the day before was ‘by 2028’.  Speculate away…. While we welcome the ambition, one wonders how much analysis was behind this updated target?

Here are some other NBS mentions from the other plenary:

  • Colombia: committed to protecting 30% of land by 2022; will have planted 120 million trees by the end of 2021, with goal of 180 million by August 2022
  • DRC: desire to launch program to enhance and plant 1 million trees by 2023
  • Indonesia: moratorium on forest and peatland exploitation
  • Monaco: “Nature based solutions will help us protect the planet and ecosystems while providing many benefits for local communities. Solutions exist to protect nature and provide progress.”
  • Ecuador: established new marine reserve in Galapagos Islands of 60,000 sq km, added to 130,000 sq km which exist in reserve
  • Ghana: planted 7 million trees in 2021; aim to plan 20 million trees in 2022 and reducing emissions by 10 mil tons CO2 equivalent in cocoa forests landscape through REDD+

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