Only a few months ago headlines around the world were announcing that deforestation in the Amazon had reached its highest annual rate in a decade. For years, the Amazon forest has been losing territory to legal and illegal agricultural expansion and resource exploitation; after a brief easing toward the mid-2010s, deforestation picked up again, and is increasingly threatening one of the world’s key ecosystems for carbon storage and biodiversity, as well as the millions of people depending on it.
Protecting and restoring forests at large scale, and in particular tropical forests, remain key nature-based solutions (NbS) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping global temperatures rise below 2°C. But the simple will to secure the future of forests is not enough. Tropical forests protection requires finance, but also building bridges between all the stakeholders that rely on, govern, work with, and use forests. This is all more critical in the Amazon region, which spans several countries, provides for millions of Indigenous People, and is affected by countless policies.
At GLF Amazonia this September, The Green Gigaton Challenge (GGC) coalition, a partnership between Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator, UN-REDD, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Forest Trends, and the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) led a session focusing on the partnerships needed across the Amazon to obtain tropical forest protection at scale. Launched in November 2020, the GGC, aims to bring together the funding that allows effective, high-quality emission reductions of at least 1Gt/year from forest-based solutions by 2025.
“We need to go much bigger in climate finance and carbon credits if we want to eliminate tropical deforestation in the next decade […], but is also really important that we drive change at systemic level, in a way that really brings all society together,” said Ruben Lubowski, AVP for Climate and Forests at EDF.
Indigenous People and local communities need not to just benefit from tropical forest protection programmes, but be empowered as partners in these initiatives, the session highlighted. “We have long, historical processes held with Indigenous People in the region for the last 25-30 years,” said Juan Carlos Jintiach, technical advisor for COICA, which reunites indigenous organizations in the Amazon Basin. According to Jintiach, ensuring the Amazon forest is protected cannot be achieved without involving IP.
At the same time, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) is working to involve not just IP, but ranchers, farmers and NGOs on the ground to help halt deforestation. The institute’s latest initiative, Conserv is testing whether payments made to farmers to preserve forests in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso can be effective. “The challenge is going to the next level and translating Conserv into a market mechanism,” said André Guimarães, IPAM’s executive director. “We need to invest in adaptation, in alternatives to prevent forest degradation.”
Karina Barrera Moncayo, undersecretary of climate change in Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, said that alternatives that prevent illegal uses of timber are a priority for her country, and different business models and a boost in the bioeconomy are needed in order to support biodiversity.
Paying attention to stakeholders on the ground – local communities, the private sector, civil society, local authorities - will be essential if we want to achieve funding for effective forest protection, explained Maria Victoria Suarez, REDD+ Safeguards Programme Officer for UNEP. Only by getting them to work together in an inclusive, equitable manner and by finding the right platforms to keep them engaged from the very beginning in forest-related policies can help create effective instruments to keep deforestation at bay and provide benefits to those depending on forests, according to Suarez.
It is vital that programs for reducing deforestation embed enough safeguards to respect land tenure rights for Indigenous People and allow stakeholders to take part fully in designing and implementing REDD+ actions, while distributing benefits in fair, transparent, and accountable ways.