27 Mar 20 | Business brief
There’s a ready-made solution that can go a long way to tackling climate change, but will halting forest destruction get a proper hearing in Paris?
The New York Declaration on Forests was signed by countries from Belgium to Vietnam, by NGOs, and by companies including Asia Pulp and Paper, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Wal-Mart and Wilmar. Signatories agreed to an “action agenda”, which for companies included promises to eliminate deforestation from supply chains and to support sustainable commodity production and trade.
Forests also feature in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which go even further than the New York Declaration on Forests and say deforestation should be halted by 2020.
The Climate Focus analysis also finds that, despite the New York declaration, there is no sign of any slowing in the rate of forest clearance – though the analysis also notes that only one year after the declaration, it is “too early to draw conclusions about progress in most areas”. Certainly there is a lot more to do.
The reality is that global action to curb deforestation is still lagging. Tom Bregman, a project manager with forest thinktank Global Canopy Programme, says that while a number of corporate “powerbrokers” have made individual commitments that “ensure the time-bound removal of deforestation from their supply chains, many are yet to put policies in place and most are currently unable to implement them due to supply chain complexity”.
“Progressive industry is willing,” according to Hannah Mowat, a campaigner at NGO Fern. She points out that current commitments capture only a small percentage of the market. Political action is required, including more robust measures against illegal logging, and tighter sustainability standards on commodities such as palm oil to reduce the pressure on forests.