Reducing the Pressure on Tropical Forests

The New York Declaration on Forests Progress Assessment

The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) is a non-legally binding international agreement endorsed at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014 that calls for the elimination of natural forest loss by 2030, with an intermediate goal of halving it by 2020. The other nine goals include supporting the private sector in divorcing deforestation from agricultural commodities’ supply chains, “significantly” reducing deforestation derived from other economic sectors, and strengthening forest governance and the rule of law.

From a climatic perspective, the need for redoubled attention and increased action to address the devastating loss of forests is clear. Deforestation in the tropics is estimated to be responsible for between 12 and 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — meaning that the land use sector is a greater contributor to climate change than Russia. The clearing of forests does more than warm the planet, however — it also leads to the loss or erosion of species, traditional cultures, livelihoods, and more. And given that more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for fuel, medicinal plants, food, water, or subsistence income, preventing deforestation must remain a top priority on the international agenda.

The NYDF aims to halt deforestation by bringing together governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), multi-national corporations, and indigenous groups who have committed individually and jointly take action to stop forest loss. To evaluate progress toward the realization of the declaration’s 10 goals, the NYDF Assessment Partners — a group of 15 civil society groups and research institutes — produce an annual assessment report, as well as an in-depth publication examining achievement of one or two of the goals. Whereas the 2016 assessment looked into efforts to remove deforestation from agricultural companies’ supply chains, this year, special focus will be paid to Goals 8 and 9, both of which touch upon forest finance.

With support from more than 190 endorsers, the NYDF has roots in other international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2011 Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Moreover, with the entry into force last year of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the rise in the global average temperature to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the role of forests has only grown in importance. Indeed, Article 5 of the Paris climate accord references specifically the need to conserve and enhance carbon sinks, such as forests. The agreement also calls for endorsers to support activities, such as results-based payments, pertaining to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Forest protection will inevitably only grow in importance as national government seek to implement their commitments under the Paris accord.

The 2017 NYDF Progress Assessment Report — focusing on finance for forests — will be launched online and available for download at forestdeclaration.org starting on October 24th. For more information about the NYDF Progress Assessment, please click here.

NYDF Assessment Partners (in alphabetical order) include: CDP, Chatham House, Climate Focus, Environmental Defense Fund, Forest Trends, Global Alliance of Clean Cookstoves, Global Canopy Programme, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Rainforest Alliance, Stockholm Environment Institute, The Nature Conservancy, The Sustainability Consortium, Woods Hole Research Center, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.