As delegates and communities gather in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt and online for this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) – the biggest annual climate conference on the planet – many wonder what kind of cash the world’s wealthiest countries are prepared to put on the table to address the challenge at hand.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has made no bones about the urgency for change and the inequity of climate impacts: “We have a rendez-vous with climate disaster,” he said in a speech to the UN general assembly on 20 September. “The climate crisis is a case study in moral and economic injustice.” To that end, Guterres is urging developed countries to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, and redirect the funds to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis – and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices.
To cultivate that more equitable and climate-resilient future, it’s clear that the protection and restoration of trees and forests must be a critical part of the picture. We can’t meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C without halting deforestation, restoring forests, and maintaining the world’s existing tree-based carbon sinks.
At COP27, the Center for International Forestry Research – World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) is involved in a number of sessions that seek to reinforce the importance of trees and forests as an investment in climate resilience. The centre’s scientists feature in five official side events that address key questions in this arena, including:
- How to critically assess progress to support successful forest action toward the 2030 climate goals
- How to achieve socially-just, climate-resilient development in Africa and Asia, keeping in mind key risks and contexts such as fire, hazards, blue carbon agriculture and governance
- How much progress has been made on the integration of adaptation actions into countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia in the agroforestry and forestry sectors
- How to ensure land contributes to climate change mitigation without creating a ‘land gap’ (earmarking more land for countries’ Net-Zero and NDC pledges than is actually available)
- How to accelerate action to protect blue carbon ecosystems for mitigation and adaptation
CIFOR-ICRAF is also involved in the COP’s first-ever Food and Agriculture Pavilion, which will showcase innovative solutions to help countries take effective climate action to protect agri-food systems. There, the centre will lead a session on tree-based food system transformation, which will lay out how monocultural agriculture has led to “belly full hungry cells” – people consuming more food but with lower nutrition than they do in diversified production systems – and will deliberate on the linkage between nature and lifestyle, while emphasizing the need for a radical shift in production, consumption, storage and disposal patterns to benefit people and the environment.
At the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) climate conferene ‘Frontiers of Change’, held in Sharm el Sheikh on the sidelines of COP27 as well as online, CIFOR-ICRAF scientists will present on climate and livelihood impacts of land restoration in Africa; at the launch of the EU-funded Landscapes for our Future programme and the TreesAdapt partnership platform; and on market opportunities for mangrove blue carbon.
Soil health, which is critically interlinked with land use decisions, and has major implications for both food security and carbon storage, will also be in the spotlight. Leigh Winowiecki, a soil systems scientist and CIFOR-ICRAF’s Leader on Land Health Decisions, will present at a high-level ministerial side event on global action for drought resilience, as well as in a session at the Pavilion to present a proposal, created by the Coalition of Action 4 Soil Health (CA4SH), for governments to issue a soil health resolution at COP27. “Let’s get soil health on the agenda,” Winowiecki urged – “we need healthy soil for a healthy planet.”
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