25 September 2019: In parallel to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, five organizations – Global Wildlife Conservation, Rainforest Foundation Norway, UN Development Programme (UNDP), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and World Resources Institute (WRI) – launched the ‘Forests for Life Partnership’ in recognition of forests as a nature-based solution to climate change and biodiversity protection.In launching the Partnership, the organizations highlighted how forests help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change, maintain regional rainfall patterns, and sustain the livelihoods and culture of indigenous peoples. Forests provide a home for 80% of the world’s land-based wildlife species. Despite the benefits they provide, less than 25% of the world’s forests are considered intact. According to WRI, these intact forests “are being damaged at twice the rate of forests overall,” from logging, demand for charcoal and fuel, land clearing for industrial agriculture and illegal hunting.
The Forest for Life Partnership aims to “halt and reverse forest degradation across one billion hectares of the most intact forests worldwide” to achieve global climate, biodiversity and sustainable development targets. The Partnership will focus on the Amazon, Congo Basin, New Guinea and the northern boreal zone as well as smaller, intact forests across Mesoamerica, Madagascar, and South and Southeast Asia. Efforts will include engaging indigenous peoples in the management and conservation of forests and promoting policies to protect forests from degradation and fragmentation.
The Partnership has committed US$50 million over the next five years to protect the world’s most intact forests and aims to mobilize an additional US$200 million from governments, foundations, corporations and individuals through a dedicated ‘Forests for Life Action Fund.’ One of the first commitments under the Partnership is the ‘5 Great Forests of Mesoamerica Initiative,’ though which Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, and the Dominican Republic will work together to address deforestation and support forest governance and forest-friendly livelihoods in the Maya, La Moskitia, Indio Maíz-Tortuguero and the Darién forests.
This Partnership is one of several initiatives launched to support forest-centered nature-based solutions to climate change and other development challenges. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) also announced initiatives at the Climate Action Summit. FAO’s ‘Great Green Wall for Cities’ aims to green urban areas, integrating them into a continuum of restored landscapes. UNECE’s ‘Trees in Cities Challenge’ calls on mayors to make tree planting pledges towards reducing GHGs and improving their cities’ health and well-being. [WRI Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Launch of Nature-Based Initiatives]
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