Updated: Aug 27
Insufficient forest action has made the world more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic than it should have been. And as the pandemic continues to expose these vulnerabilities, it also offers a new chance for people to act and to rebuild the systems that are no longer working.
Investing in forests can help societies and economies recover better and become more resilient to future shocks and stresses. The latest Info briefs published by UN-REDD emphasize the critical role of forests in preventing future pandemics and in paving way to more resilient and low carbon societies.
Yet despite more awareness of the value of forests, countries’ recovery plans do not yet deliver on the full potential of forests to protect both people and planet. The Info briefs highlight that only 4% of initial COVID-19 recovery financial policies from G20 countries are green. The vast majority, 92%, are seen as climate-neutral, with 4% of them likely to increase emissions and exacerbate the climate crisis in the long-term.
Recovery packages must be green
Conserving forests can keep humans safe from zoonotic diseases, such as coronaviruses. Emerging evidence shows that one in three outbreaks are linked to deforestation and land use changes. Further research also shows that investing in forests can lift 1 billion people out of poverty, create 80 million green jobs and make a lasting contribution to enhancing environmental and social resilience.
Recovery packages should thus be structured in ways that reduce, not increase, pressure on forests and ecosystems. One way of ensuring this is by designing policy responses that channel adequate public and private climate financing into forests and nature-based solutions.
The Info briefs showcase examples and learnings from UN-REDD projects in various countries and propose measures to finance sustainable forest management and nature-based solutions. For example, engaging local communities, smallholders, indigenous peoples and women, the Argentina’s results based payment contributes to job generation, food security and improving livelihoods in rural areas.
Meanwhile, countries like Indonesia are considering integrating climate and forest agendas into their financial stimulus packages post-COVID. With this, the country aims to reinvest results based payments, secured under the bilateral agreement with Norway, into the country’s socioeconomic recovery. In Africa, with the support of UN-REDD, the Democratic Republic of Congo has aligned its REDD+ implementation efforts with its SDG priorities such as transitioning to green economies and developing agricultural value chains for improving food security while promoting inclusion and gender equality.
These examples demonstrate the transformative potential of UN-REDD projects, and how through investing in forests, countries can best deliver recovery efforts at the pace and scale required, for greener, more resilient economies and societies.
For more information, download the UN-REDD Info briefs;
Katrina Harina Borromeo
UN-REDD, Asia Pacific Communication Specialist