Partnerships for Forests at Climate Week – Signalling our Ambition

Blog: Bruce Cabarle – Team Leader

As this year’s climate week in New York nears its close, it’s time to reflect on the takeaways for the sustainable land use agenda and what that means for those of us active in the nexus between climate change and forests.

Recent developments confirm that we are at the cusp of a unique opportunity in time. The Paris Climate Change Agreement is moving rapidly towards ratification with 20 more countries signing up just this week. Business leaders are showing that they really do mean action on climate change and, as we heard at a public forum convened by the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020), jurisdictional leaders are taking a leadership role on sustainable land use and agriculture.

Justin Adams from the Nature Conservancy provided a great sum-up to close the TFA 2020 event. Fundamentally, we won’t meet the sustainable development goals unless we get land use right, he said. The agenda has momentum, but the solutions are complex, making partnerships key to achieving success.

That’s where Partnerships for Forests comes in. We aim to catalyse real investment on the ground through partnerships between the private sector, public sector and civil society.

Let’s not pretend that our job is straightforward. The context we operate in is challenging.

For one, global demand for food, fuel and fibre continues to increase. With population rise projected to peak to 9 billion mouths to feed before it begins to wane, this trend is unwavering.

In addition, the current investment climate is not forest friendly. More often than not, the short-term economic gains from degrading or converting forests are greater than those from leaving forests standing or conducting reforestation efforts.

Our response is ambitious. We want to demonstrate how the private sector, public sector and communities can come together to achieve improved returns from sustainable forests and sustainable land use – investments that can compete, or even outperform, the prevailing model of deforestation.

If we can create ‘bankable’ partnerships that offer an attractive balance of risks and benefits for all partners, we think we will be able to mobilise significant investment to reduce the threat of deforestation and help stabilize runaway climate change.

Ideas for these types of partnerships exist, but there are few examples of investment models that are economically, socially and environmentally viable.

We’ve seen examples of projects that manage to deliver on the investment side, but without having a measurable impact on forest conservation. And we’ve seen good work to promote forests and sustainable agriculture, but don’t have the commercial viability to make whole value chains more forest-friendly.

So we’re on the look-out for ideas that that have the potential to deliver our ambitions. To that end, one of the main aim of my trip to New York was to announce our first call for concepts to an international audience.

The focus for this first call is on building sustainable supply chains for cocoa, palm oil, rubber and fuelwood/timber that currently fuel deforestation in West and Central Africa – specifically Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana and Liberia.

A wide variety of organization types are eligible to apply and we will support partnerships at different levels of maturity, from those that are only ideas through to projects that are already being piloted. However all partnerships should have the potential to deliver impact at scale, either through their own operations or replication elsewhere.

You can read more about the call here.

It was great to hear peoples’ response to the call in New York. We look forward to receiving some great concepts. And doing our part to reduce deforestation, stabilize climate change and improve livelihoods for those most vulnerable to these threats.