Building back resilient societies by investing in forests
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 the way to more resilient and low carbon societies, highlighting that:
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.
Restoring forests can make a lasting contribution to enhancing environmental and social resilience, with large-scale restoration providing an estimated USD $84 billion in annual economic benefits worldwide.
Investing in forests can lift 1 billion people out of poverty. It can also green economies by creating an additional 80 million green jobs.
Yet despite more awareness of the economic value of forests and the destructive impacts of deforestation and degradation and its links to zoonotic diseases, countries’ recovery plans do not yet deliver on the full potential of forests to protect both people and planet.
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 should 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.
Through its on-the-ground technical expertise and convening power, the UN-REDD Programme is best placed to support countries in developing and implementing forest solutions for a green recovery.
Showcasing examples and learnings from UN-REDD projects in various countries, the briefs propose measures to finance sustainable forest management and nature-based solutions such as:
By engaging local communities, smallholders, indigenous peoples and women, 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.