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World leaders: take action now to save forests

Global leaders at the Avoided Deforestation Partners Side Event in Cancun
Global leaders at the Avoided Deforestation Partners Side Event in Cancun

Gathering at a side event hosted by Avoided Deforestation Partners, global leaders called on delegates meeting at U.N. climate talks in Cancun to come to a formal decision on REDD+, a mechanism that could compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation. REDD+ is one of the few areas where negotiations have been progressing.

“An agreement on forests is very much within reach here in Cancún,” said Avoided Deforestation Partners founder Jeffrey Horowitz, the event’s host. “We must not let any one nation be allowed to hold forest protection hostage to other goals.”

“The time for global action to protect forests is now,” added UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Developing countries are willing to lead. Let’s hope they receive appropriate financial support.”

Robert Zoellick
World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
Ban Ki-Moon. Photos courtesy of AD Partners.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said REDD has advanced to the stage where it’s time to “close the deal” and “move it forward”.

But Guyana President Bharratt Jagdeo said the rich world would need to fulfill its commitments in order for REDD to work.

“Fast-track financing is a nightmare,” he told a packed audience. “It is a test of the sincerity of the developed world.”

Jagdeo said he agreed with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg—also a panelist—in the need for results-based finance, but added “What I have a problem with is when I deliver the results I can’t get the money.”

Jagdeo said the delay risks undermining the political capital needed to carry out his ambitious plan to shift Guyana toward a low carbon development model that spares its vast rainforest, which is larger than England. Jagdeo’s plan includes solar installations, land title, and small grants for indigenous families.

Walmart Chairman Rob Walton
Walmart Chairman Rob Walton.

Avoided Deforestation Partners founder Jeffrey Horowitz
Avoided Deforestation Partners founder Jeffrey Horowitz. Photos courtesy of AD Partners.

“Once the results are delivered, the money should be delivered so we can deliver political will.”

Following Jagdeo, Walmart Chairman Rob Walton said his company is already taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain. He highlighted initiatives with sustainable palm oil and deforestation-free beef in the Amazon.

World Bank President Zoellick closed out the event announcing a wildlife premium initiative that will recognize the other values embedded in forests, including biodiversity.

“If it proves successful, this market will value wildlife and co-benefits to sustainable communities, tigers, elephants, great apes and critical ecosystems around the world,” Zoellick said. “The Wildlife Premium market initiative will focus on large charismatic species…. many of these range over large areas, and many are endangered. Protecting these species will protect the other flora and fauna that live under their umbrella.”

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