BONN, Germany (Landscape News) – National forest restoration and conservation projects need more financing to aid transformation to a low carbon economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, agreed eight government ministers attending a conference in Lima, Peru last week.
Financing should be pulled from multilateral climate funds established at U.N. climate talks in 2009 to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year to help developing countries fight climate change, they said.
Additionally, multinational banks should provide more financing for the climate funds, which distribute public money as loans and grants for national restoration programs, to help strengthen public-private partnerships, said the government ministers from Argentina, Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru at the Initiative 20×20 annual meeting.
The 17 country members involved in Initiative 20×20 made a pact in 2014 to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. Altogether, participating governments have so far made commitments to restore and protect more than 50 million hectares of degraded land.
Climate funds focused on restoration could help resolve barriers to private investment, the government ministers said in a statement. Hurdles include the need for more project support, availability of working capital, and management of investment risks.
“The long-term sustainability of restoration efforts in Latin America depend on the ability to attract private investment,” said Gustavo Mostajo, Peru’s minister of agriculture and irrigation. “A strong participation of global climate funding can accelerate this process.”
Globally, $3 billion, less than 2 percent, of $141 billion of public climate finance in 2016 was allocated to land-use — less for restoration, the Initiative 20×20 statement said. Conservation and restoration can deliver 60 percent of the emissions reductions needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to estimates.
“Restoration and conservation are among the most cost-effective mitigation measures, and in Latin America would constitute a pivot on which to base a shift to low carbon economies,” said Diego Moreno, Argentina’s secretary of environment, climate change and sustainability.
Around 10 million hectares of land are already subject to conservation and restoration activities with more than 40 projects underway.
“Restoration is not just a financially attractive mitigation measure but may also bring substantial co-benefits including rural welfare, soil and water conservation, biodiversity protection and climate resilience,” said Walter Vergara, regional coordinator of Initiative 20×20 and senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, the secretariat for the initiative.
Vergara will speak at the Global Landscape Forum Investment Case Symposium in Washington, D.C. on May 30.
Already, 21 private partners from companies and impact investors have agreed investments of $2.1 billion. A great deal more capital is needed to restore 50 million hectares of degraded land.
“Embarking on a path to restore 200 million hectares and reforest 50 million hectares, together with actions in agriculture to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, could deliver a significant fraction of carbon sinks by mid-century,” said Alfonso Alonzo, Guatemala’s minister of environment and natural resources, suggesting the regional restoration target should be increased.
“250×2050 has a nice ring to it; however, it will require a concerted effort of government, private sector and global climate finance,” Alonzo said.
Current projects include: 270,000 hectares of land in the Chacabuco ecological restoration project by Conservacion Patagonica in Chile; 36,000 hectares of agroforestry investments by the CARANA-Peru/Cacao Alliance in Peru and Moringa, Nicaragua; 10,000 hectares of grassland restoration and reforestation by Althelia in Mato Grosso, Brazil; 810,000 hectares of reforestation by CONAFOR, the National Forestry Commission in Mexico; 1.4 million hectares of land under conservation with the support of the Andes Amazon Fund in Peru.
Representatives from 21 impact investor funds and 40 partners attended the Initiative 20×20 annual meeting.
Learn more about these topics from WRI’s Walter Vergara at the GLF Investment Case Symposium in Washington: Click here.