Greenpeace: “New York Declaration” on forests commitments are welcome, but immediate action is needed
September 23, 2014
New York City - Greenpeace welcomed the renewed commitment expressed in the New York Declaration to halting the loss of natural forests globally, announced today during Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Summit, but raised concerns that voluntary commitments cannot replace government action. Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:
“We need strong laws to protect forests and people, as well as better enforcement of existing laws. The New York Declaration is missing ambitious targets and tangible actions. Halting the global loss of natural forests by 2030 and eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodities by 2020 at the latest would mean that years of continued forest clearance still lie ahead of us. While we are celebrating announcements on paper today, forests and forest peoples are facing imminent threats that must be averted if we want the Declaration to become reality.”
“Indonesia’s deforestation rates continue to skyrocket. As we gather in New York, schools are being closed in Sumatra due to the haze caused by devastating forest fires. The Amazon is threatened by mega-infrastructure projects such as dams that would lead to massive forest clearance. Africa’s vast intact forests are still being logged for timber without effective control, while increasingly at risk of being converted into agriculture plantations. After years of negotiations and good-will declarations, the world’s forests and forest dependent peoples cannot afford further delays of meaningful action.”
Greenpeace urges several actions be taken without further delay to protect the world’s forests:
• Governments should not just talk about strengthening governance and empowering communities. They should immediately start enforcing forest conservation and anti-corruption laws while reshaping their legislative frameworks to effectively protect natural forests and peatlands. The current legislation in Indonesia for example, fails to adequately protect peatlands and urgently needs to be strengthened. Equally, the moratorium on new concessions, while an important step in the right direction, is so full of loopholes that it fails to effectively protect Indonesia’s forests.
• Governments need to secure and protect the rights and territories of indigenous peoples. An increasing body of evidence shows that management by local rights holders is one of the most effective ways to reduce deforestation and associated carbon emissions. (1) We are worried about the current attacks by the agricultural lobby on Brazil’s legislation that would restrict the areas under indigenous control and protection.
• Companies should immediately halt forest clearance and implement effective No Deforestation policies. The establishment of the soya moratorium in Brazil has shown how commodity traders, companies, government and NGO’s can work together on market driven solutions to environmental problems. However this victory is threatened if the moratorium expires at the end of this year without being replaced by a long-term solution.
• Donor governments need to put their money where their mouth is and commit significant finance for forest conservation and land tenure reform. Funding for forest protection needs to come in addition to drastic cuts in emissions from fossil fuels. “Forest offsets” that would allow polluters to continue polluting will not help avert catastrophic climate change. (2)
• At the same time, governments need to cut financing for projects that contribute to deforestation and degradation, including industrial logging and the expansion of monoculture plantations in High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests. Equally, public and private finance institutions such as the Norwegian Pension Fund (3) and the World Bank need to refrain from investing in projects that cause forest destruction. (4)
• Finally, governments in consumer markets need to help cut the demand for products and commodities linked to deforestation. They should develop public policies and measures that ensure “deforestation free products” for consumers and help level the playing field for companies that have committed to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from their supply chain.
“We’ve seen many a declaration at high level meetings” concluded Naidoo, “but we can only celebrate when well-meaning words finally result in immediate, effective action to save the world’s forests. We look forward to learning more about the steps that will be taken in the short and medium term to implement these commitments.”