World Leaders and Corporations at the COP20 take Significant Steps to Restore and Conserve Forests

On the second day of the COP26 World Leaders Summit, a crucial pledge to save and restore our planet’s forests were actually unveiled, and with it came a long list of commitments from public and private sector actors to combat climate change, curb biodiversity destruction, and hunger, and protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

The COP26 plenary was lighted up in green today, and the chamber was filled with chirping birds and rustling leaves coming from the enormous television screens and speakers. The delegates appeared to be in a state of general serenity, almost as if they were already breathing fresher air.

On Tuesday, Master of Ceremony Sandrine Dixson-Declève greeted attendees to COP26’s crucial Leaders Event on Forest and Land Use. Then, on the screens, a film narrated by Sir David Attenborough was shown. His distinct voice could be heard across the venue. And his rallying cry was heard.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, took the stage to announce that at least 110 countries, representing 80 % of the total of the world’s forests, had signed the crucial COP26 Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging to stop and reverse deforestation by 2030.

Mr. Johnson pointed out that China, Russia, and Brazil have also signed on to the commitment, which he sees as a ‘parallel’ chance for job growth.

Among other leaders absent from the COP, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared in a pre-recorded message backing the commitment.

Leaders commit to increasing their common efforts to conserve forest and other terrestrial ecosystems and speed their restoration through the Declaration, as well as to support international and local sustainable trade and development policies.

The text also emphasizes the empowerment of local populations, particularly indigenous peoples, who are frequently harmed by forest exploitation and degradation.

In addition, the Declaration aspires to develop and rethink agricultural policies and programs in order to alleviate hunger while also benefiting the environment.

Leaders agreed to promote the alignment of financial flows with worldwide goals to reverse loss and degradation, as well as policies to speed the transition to a greener economy, as part of the pledge.

In the recent decade, damaging land-use practices received about 40 times more funding than forest protection, conservation, and sustainable agriculture.

More than 30 financial organizations have signed a pledge to change this, covering over $8.7 trillion in worldwide assets under management. Its goal is to shift away from portfolios that invest in agricultural commodities supply chains with high deforestation risks and toward sustainable production.