Goal: Decrease natural forest loss by half by 2020 and end it by 2030
Origin story: The New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) was endorsed as a voluntary and non-binding agreement at the UN Climate Summit 2014, held in Manhattan, by more than 150 governments, companies, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations.
Current status: Endorsers number more than 190, including 50 of the largest multinational companies (including Walmart, Unilever, Kellogg’s and L’Oreal) and organizations ranging from the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation to Birdlife International.
The break-down: Ten goals comprise the declaration and include other targets, such as restoring 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2030, which would annually cut carbon emissions by 4.5 to 8.8 billion tons (the approximate annual emissions of the U.S.), and securing tenure rights for indigenous peoples. The ten goals are:
1. Stop forest loss
2. Eliminate deforestation from agricultural commodities by 2020
3. Reduce non-agricultural deforestation
4. Support alternatives for basic needs
5. Restore forests
6. Anchor forests in the SDGs
7. Reduce emissions in accordance with the post-2020 global climate agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius
8. Provide finance for forest action
9. Reward results by countries and jurisdictions
10. Strengthen governance and empower communities
Among the other commitments: The NYDF preluded but overlaps with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change, both adopted in 2015. It is also considered an ‘umbrella commitment.’ The Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which include halving the loss of natural habitats, fall under NYDF Goal 5. The Amsterdam Declarations on deforestation from private sector business and palm oil sustainability tie into Goal 2.
Progress reports: The NYDF Progress Assessment was launched in 2016 and every year provides an in-depth analysis on one or multiple goals – which so far include Goal 2 and Goals 8 and 9 – in conjunction with an abbreviated assessment of the others. The Assessment is informed by a growing group that currently consists 23 organizations who together form the NYDF assessment partners, coordinated by ClimateFocus. This year’s in-depth assessment, which will launch just before COP24, will focus on Goal 10.
Words from an expert: Ingrid Schulte, Land use consultant and coordinator of the NYDF Assessment Partners
On successes so far
“I think for each goal, we can find specific examples of progress and highlight them as practices that can be used as case studies, opportunities to scale up. Goals 2 and 9 overlap on the potential of jurisdictional initiatives. A lot of programs are still in nascent stages, but they hold promise because they bring together public, private and local stakeholders and try to align goals and create solutions together.
For the purposes of our assessment, we consider Goals 6 and 7 to have been achieved, because forests have been included in the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, but that does not mean work around them has been finished, and there is a lot more to be done in terms of implementation.”
“Finance for forests is still disproportionate compared to their potential contribution to keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. It is dwarfed by the amount of finance going to other sectors that are driving deforestation and only a small percent of global development finance for climate change mitigation goes to forests. There’s a big need not just to increase finance for forests but also to shift finance away from activities that are unsustainable. We call it ‘gray finance’ because they’re activities that may have a negative impact on forests or may not, but they definitely don’t have a positive impact. We need to shift from this gray finance to green finance – finance that is clearly aligned with activities that benefit forests – by implementing more safeguards, adopting better lending policies, investing in sustainable practices and other things of that nature.”