City leaders representing combined population of nearly 173 million residents have issued the Cities4Forests “Call to Action on Forests & Climate”
WASHINGTON (September 22, 2021)—Fifty-seven cities, including 51 mayors, have issued a declaration calling on governments, companies and financial institutions to urgently ramp up policies and investments to support forest conservation, restoration and sustainable forest management. The signatories of the declaration represent some of the largest and most influential cities in the world, including Freetown, Glasgow, Jakarta, Mumbai, Oslo, Paris, San Francisco and São Paulo.
Deforestation remains an urgent problem—every year the world loses a Denmark-sized area (six to nine million hectares or 15 to 22 million acres) of forest, contributing more than 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation and catastrophic wildfires affect cities by polluting water sources with sediment, disrupting rainfall patterns, harming air quality, and even initiating the spread of disease.
Many cities are investing in trees, forests and other nature-based solutions to counteract these effects and help their residents adapt to climate change. The Call to Action was organized by Cities4Forests, a network of cities committed to conserve and restore “inner forests,” including city trees, urban parks, natural areas and other green infrastructure; “nearby forests,” such as watersheds; and “faraway forests,” especially tropical forests.
“Nature is beneficial for our city because it helps not only improve air quality and manage the water cycle, but also encourages the city’s inhabitants to be active and healthy,” said Anies Baswedan, Governor of Jakarta, Indonesia. “As a result, Jakarta is motivated to conserve its nature by developing parks within the city, improving the quality of existing green open spaces and preserving the mangroves in the coastal area.”
As the signatories of the Call to Action note, while cities can manage forests within their boundaries, their ability to influence the “nearby” and “faraway” forests is limited. The cities therefore call on other actors that impact forests to increase their ambition for forest action. Specifically, the declaration calls for:
All governments (national and subnational) to develop and implement strong domestic policies to protect, restore and sustainably manage the forests within their territories.
Governments of developed nations to provide trade and financial incentives to support the protection and restoration of forests, particularly those within the tropics, and to support sustainable agricultural productivity improvements (which can relieve pressure on forests). Governments also should reform policies (e.g., agricultural and others) that are detrimental to forests.
Financial institutions (e.g., development banks, commercial banks, investors, sovereign wealth funds) to avoid financing activities that cause deforestation and instead prioritize investment in nature-based solutions involving forest conservation, forest restoration and deforestation-free agricultural commodity production.
Companies to ensure their commodity supply chains are deforestation-free and support nature-based solutions to address climate change and other business challenges.
“As mayors, we are protecting the world’s forests by regreening our cities and protecting our vast natural lands,” said Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, OBE, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone. “But we can’t do it alone. We call on national governments to step up their ambitions to conserve forests to fight climate change. And we ask the private sector to eliminate deforestation from supply chains and invest in nature. Now is the time for action.”
“Protecting and enhancing our forests and green areas is our best opportunity to tackle climate change and to help us become a zero-emission city,” said Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor of Oslo, Norway. “However, far away forests are also just as essential for our city to thrive. In Oslo we try to influence global trends by the way we buy and invest, which is why we are increasingly working to shift the city’s food and commodity supplies to more sustainable options that do not contribute to deforestation.”
Other city officials are using their political platforms to try and influence policy at the state or national level. Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President for New York City, has publicly supported a New York State Senate bill that would forbid companies contracting with the state to contribute to tropical or boreal deforestation directly or through their supply chains.
“Climate change is a global problem, and it demands global solutions,” said Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President, New York City. “That is why I have been proud to advocate for new policies that protect faraway tropical forests, including a resolution calling on corporate and government entities operating in our city to divest from agricultural industries that benefit from the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.”
As nations prepare to enter climate negotiations at COP26, the city-led Call to Action on Forests & Climate contributes to the political momentum that countries need to ramp up their ambitions for forest conservation and climate action.
“Georgetown is known as the Garden City of the Caribbean, and our residents deeply value our city’s trees and forests,” said Ubraj Narine, Mayor of Georgetown, Guyana. As the capital of one of the world’s most forested nations, we benefit greatly from this rich natural resource. We depend on our forests, and we need governments around the world to do more to protect our irreplaceable rainforests.”
The following 57 cities and local governments have signed the Call to Action on Forests & Climate:
Cities4Forests is a coalition of more than 70 cities from around the world involving mayors’ offices and other city agencies such as public water utilities and offices of sustainability. Cities4Forests encourages peer-to-peer learning and connects cities with technical support from institutions with expertise in cities, forests, climate crisis, water, communications, finance, policy and social equity. The co-founders of Cities4Forests are the Pilot Projects Design Collective, REVOLVE and World Resources Institute. More information at www.cities4forests.com or on Twitter at @cities4forests.
About World Resources Institute
World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,400 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at www.wri.org or on Twitter @WorldResources.