The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Tropical Forest Alliance annual meeting just concluded in Bogotá, Colombia, and the WEF has announced a number of commitments that will contribute to the Alliance’s goal of protecting the world’s tropical rainforests.
The meeting took place the same week world scientists warned that deforestation was one of the key drivers of ecological collapse, with up to 1 million species at risk of extinction (according to the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – IPBES report).
The meeting convened over 200 leaders from government, business and civil society and was co-hosted by the Colombian government. With over 50% of its land area forested, Colombia has the second-highest biodiversity density in the world after Brazil.
Important outcomes from the meeting included:
- The launch by the Colombian government of a $20 million Biocarbon Fund aimed at reducing deforestation and degradation, promoting smart agriculture and sustainable land use – the funding corresponds to commitments by the governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom
- The Colombian government’s successful conclusion of an agreement with the meat and dairy industries to eliminate deforestation – the two strategic sectors complement existing agreements on cocoa and palm oil in the country
- The German government, through the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), joined the Tropical Forest Alliance
Among other outcomes from the meeting were agreements to promote South-South cooperation at the national and sub-national level. These groups, along with business and civil society leaders, have agreed to hold a special meeting during the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in September.
In his address to the Alliance, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, expressed strong commitment to stop tropical deforestation. The actions and commitment of the Colombian government mark an important milestone in the global fight against deforestation. Deforestation has actually increased in the country since the peace agreement was signed and, in response, the government has developed an integrated strategy that involves fighting illegality, advancing deforestation-free supply chains, promoting restoration and implementing an innovative carbon tax.
Colombia will join a growing list of countries determined to champion the role of nature-based solutions to address climate change in New York in September.
“It’s quite simple. Life on earth isn’t possible without forests because they are integral to ecosystems and livelihoods around the world. While the original commitment was to eliminate deforestation from commodity supply chains by 2020, companies and governments have made important progress to enhance transparency and clean up supply chains over the last decade. It is only by coming together and harnessing the power of the full Alliance to force through real systemic change that protecting our forests for future generations can be achieved,” said Justin Adams, Director, Tropical Forest Alliance.
“Colombia is proud to host this meeting to showcase how we are advancing to differentiate our production of palm oil and cocoa as deforestation-free on the world stage, and to take the beef and dairy supply chains along that same route. Currently we face a spike of deforestation in the Colombian Amazon and the TFA meeting provided an opportunity to involve companies in reversing these trends by understanding their supply chains and working to eliminate any trace of deforestation from them. Thus, the private sector can be part of the solution and help us tackle this complex problem,” said Roberto Esmeral, Vice-Minister of Territorial Environmental Planning of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia.
In 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum, including many major food and consumer goods companies, committed to end deforestation in key supply chains. Governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous people’s organizations further strengthened commitments in 2014 by endorsing the New York Declaration on Forests, which called for halving global deforestation rates by 2020 and ending it by 2030.
The Tropical Forest Alliance was brought into the World Economic Forum in 2015 to accelerate action on deforestation in the run-up to 2020 and beyond.
Photo credits: Loren Moss,Cloud Forests outside Tayrona, Colombia