USAID Is Proud to Join the Trillion Trees Movement
USAID’s work supports the global goal to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030
Recognizing the tremendous economic and environmental benefits of forests, President Trump recently announced the U.S. Government’s commitment to the One Trillion Trees movement. This global call to action seeks to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030. To solidify the U.S. Government’s contribution internationally, last month the president issued an executive order creating the U.S. One Trillion Trees Interagency Council.
Forests face many threats. As they disappear, so do key resources including medicine, timber, food, clean air, and clean water. The goal of One Trillion Trees includes conserving existing forests, restoring forests on degraded lands, and planting trees in cities and suitable agricultural areas. Given the immensity of this challenge, the global community must come together to meet it.
USAID is proud to join the White House’s One Trillion Trees efforts. In particular, I am pleased to serve on the U.S. Stakeholder Council for the U.S. Chapter of 1t.org, the first regional chapter in support of the global platform. The U.S. chapter brings together a diverse group of partners including the private sector, civil society, and government officials who pledge to support this initiative.
USAID’s role is unique. We partner with 45 countries across the globe to conserve forests while reducing poverty and improving lives. This is critical work as more than one billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods, especially the rural poor. I would like to highlight three examples of this work.
One example I am very proud of is USAID’s work to support the Government of Guatemala and indigenous communities in the Maya Biosphere Reserve to establish forest concessions, allowing the communities to manage forests and harvest sustainable amounts of timber. The agreement opens access to international markets to community members for timber and other forest products, increasing incomes well above the Guatemalan minimum wage, and generating sustainable employment. In 25 years, these concessions have also led to reduced fires and deforestation, increasing tree cover on more than 350,000 hectares.
Investing in forests leads to positive outcomes for people, businesses, and the environment.
Another exciting new development is our work in Brazil, where USAID has partnered with Mirova Natural Capital and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture to design the Althelia Biodiversity Fund Brazil. This fund will mobilize $100 million to support sustainable activities that protect, restore, or otherwise improve biodiversity and community livelihoods in the Brazilian Amazon. The Environmental Finance IMPACT Awards 2020 recently recognized Althelia Biodiversity Fund Brazil as the multi-asset Fund of the Year.
Finally, in areas where forests are heavily degraded or destroyed, reforestation efforts can improve environmental conditions and support communities’ economic security. In West Africa, USAID has partnered with the Global Shea Alliance to promote, plant, and protect shea parklands while advancing private sector commitments to plant 10 million trees across the region over the next 10 years.
These are only a few examples of the important work that USAID and our partners are doing. Over the next two years, we will continue to help our partners improve the protection, management, and restoration of more than 2.5 million acres of natural and planted forests across the world — an area about twice the size of Grand Canyon National Park. We will do this by creating new partnerships with the private sector, empowering indigenous communities, and taking innovative solutions to scale. It’s through partnerships like these that the global community will meet the 1t.org goals of conserving, restoring, and growing one trillion trees by 2030.
About the Author
Michelle Bekkering serves as the Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation. She is a member of the U.S. Stakeholder Council, which supports the U.S. Chapter of the World Economic Forum’s Global Trillion Trees platform, 1t.org. The platform aims to connect and mobilize the global community to conserve, restore, and grow one trillion trees by 2030.