Following is an updated press statement on the forest commitments at the UN Climate Summit from Nigel Sizer, Global Director, Forest Program, WRI [see the original press statement here]

NEW YORK//WASHINGTON (September 23, 2014)—At the UN Climate Summit, a group of governments, companies, and civil society groups issued the New York Declaration on Forests, an ambitious commitment that will slow the rate of deforestation and improve forest management. Among the highlights, the Declaration proposes cutting the rate of natural forest loss in half by 2020 and eliminating it altogether by 2030; restoring 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2020 and an additional 200 million hectares by 2030; and strengthening forest governance, transparency, and local and indigenous rights.

The Declaration was issued by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, heads of state, leaders of major commodity and consumer goods companies, indigenous peoples’ organizations, and civil society groups, including WRI. Many countries and companies issued additional ambitious commitments for reducing forest loss and restoring forests.

WRI’s analysis finds that achieving zero net deforestation by 2030, as proposed by the Declaration, could result in emissions reductions of around 3 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year. The Declaration’s goal of restoring 350 million hectares, an area of degraded land greater than the size of India, by 2030 would generate an additional 1–3 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent of emissions reductions per year.

Following are some of the major commitments announced at today’s Summit:

  • Norway, Germany and Peru’s new partnership for Peru’s forests, with $300 million committed by Norway in payments for performance.
  • Norway and Liberia’s new partnership to improve forest management in Liberia, with $150 million committed by Norway in payments for performance.
  • A special announcement from Norway committing $100 million for indigenous peoples to help ensure their rights to lands and resources are fully respected, recognizing the vital role these communities play in managing forests and attention needed to this long underplayed issue.
  • A new pledge from major palm oil companies Wilmar, Cargill, Asian Agri, and Golden Agri Resources, facilitated by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, focused on Indonesia, committing to a raft of actions to protect remaining forests and peatlands and ensure community rights are better respected, while also advocating for other companies and legal reforms to support and expand such commitments.
  • A suite of new announcements on forest landscape restoration by many countries, including Ethiopia, Colombia, Uganda, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These new announcements will advance progress toward the meeting the Bonn Challenge, which calls for 150 million hectares in forest landscape restoration by 2020. With the new annoucements made in New York, over 50 million hectares have been committed.

Following is a statement by Nigel Sizer, Global Director, Forests Program, World Resources Institute:

“When taken together and if backed by strong action, these commitments can dramatically improve the state of the world’s forests. This should, in turn, embolden greater ambition by governments to go beyond their current greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

“The New York Declaration on Forests is the clearest statement to date by world leaders that improved forest management must be a major building block for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The commitments made in New York on REDD+, restoration, deforestation-free agricultural commodity production and indigenous peoples’ rights are a very big deal for forests. We are seeing new levels of commitment by many governments and communities, including Ethiopia, Colombia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, as well as companies, like Cargill, Wilmar and Golden Agri Resources, among others.

“Our research shows that achieving zero net deforestation by 2030 could result in more emissions reductions than removing every car, bus, and plane from the United States, China, and India combined. Similarly, achieving the Declaration’s goal of restoring an area of degraded land greater than the size of India by 2030 would generate $170 billion per year in benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields, and forest products, not to mention bringing enormous emissions reductions.

“Although the benefits are clear, this Declaration was far from inevitable. It would not have come without the leadership of those countries, NGOs, communities and companies that have made forest stewardship a priority. WRI stands ready to mobilize its teams, especially working on Global Forest Watch and the Global Restoration Initiative, to monitor and measure progress, provide decision-ready input to policymakers, and hold accountable those who are making the pledge.”