Latin America loses 2.18 million hectares of forests annually. Since 1990, 129 million hectares have disappeared globally. Forests loss has significant social and environmental consequences.
An estimated 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods. Deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 17 percent of carbon emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.
To discuss how to increase funding for sustainable forest management and REDD+, experts and governments representatives from 12 Latin American countries met in Panama City, Panama, on July 11-12.
The workshop "Financing strategies for sustainable forest management and REDD+" was organized by UN-REDD, the United Nations collaborative program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, together with the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment.
"We need to allocate more resources to the fight against deforestation. Investing in the sustainable management of forests contributes to maintaining healthy ecosystems and providing essential goods and services. It also plays a role in reducing carbon emissions and, therefore, in the fight against climate change" said Gabriel Labbate, UN-REDD Senior Program Officer.
The required funding for sustainable forest management is between USD 70 and 160 billion per year globally, according to a study by the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. Estimates of the amounts required to halve deforestation alone range from USD 20 to USD 40 billion per annum by 2020.
"Many countries, including in Latin America, do not have the financial means to implement sustainable forest management and REDD+ which can be costly. The resources are yet out there. We just need to know where they are and how to access them. By sharing information and experiences with and among countries in the region, this workshop aims to do just that: bridge the gap between the sources of finance and the countries themselves" stated Benjamin Singer, Forests Affairs Officer at the United Nations Forum on Forests.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that Official Development Assistance for the global forest sector was $600 million per year between 2006 and 2015.
Disbursements of this type of aid have increased in recent years, mainly to finance REDD+, the mechanism developed by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Between 2002-2004 and 2008-2010, multilateral and bilateral funding for forests increased by about 125 percent.
The goal of REDD+ is help developing countries reduce emissions and invest in low-carbon paths, such as strengthening community forest management capacity or enhancing the environmental services of forests. Countries that undertake actions to reduce emissions, conserve and sustainably manage forests, and increase forest carbon stocks will receive payments based on the results they obtain.
Most REDD+ funding comes from the public sector, mainly from donor governments and multilateral institutions. Between 2009 and 2014, the private sector contributed 10 percent of all REDD+ finance commitments in 13 countries tracked by REDDX, a platform that traces resources committed worldwide to this mechanism.
Mobilizing more resources from the private sector and making investments in sustainable forest management more attractive were topics also discussed during the two-day workshop.
Latin America receives almost 60% of REDD+ funds
21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean received 56%, some 1,053 million dollars, of the total approved funds for REDD+ between 2008 and 2016. Brazil accounts for 69% of all funding for the region, according to the Climate Funds Update. Mexico, Guyana, Colombia, and Peru follow, but far below.
The multilateral institutions and funds with the highest funding for forests in the region are the Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, REDD Early Movers, the Forest Investment Program, the Amazon Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, UN-REDD, the Biocarbon Fund, the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund.
During the workshop, countries presented their experiences and success stories in financing strategies for sustainable forest management and REDD+. Representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru participated in the workshop.