Protecting and restoring tropical forests is one of the most powerful tools to slow and ultimately stop climate change. They store up to a quarter of all airborne carbon and represent 50 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Sadly, the world is losing forests at an alarming rate.
The international community has long recognized that action to protect forests is central to action to tackle climate change. In fact, more than a decade ago, international negotiations began on the rules on how countries should work together to reduce emissions from deforestation, promote conservation and sustainable management of forests, and increase stocks. forest carbon in tropical forest countries – collective actions known as REDD +.
The results of these negotiations were enshrined in the Paris Agreement, according to which, under Article 5, industrialized countries are encouraged to make performance-based payments to developing countries for achieved emission reductions. at the jurisdictional level.
But, that was only the first step. To date, donor governments as well as multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the United Nations Green Climate Fund, have committed more than $ 7 billion to REDD +. But much more funding is needed if the world is to meet its globally agreed targets for climate, biodiversity and land degradation, estimated at a $ 4.1 trillion funding gap for nature by 2050. Even financial support in the hundreds of millions of dollars is not always enough to give forest countries the confidence to embark on ambitious programs to protect forests and reduce emissions, which require investment. important in financial and political capital.
Simply put, the vast climate action potential of REDD + will not materialize without a massive increase in visible demand levels. On the other hand, many potential providers of results-based financing are unwilling to make large-scale financing commitments in the absence of a visible supply. In the REDD + community, we have called this the âchicken or the eggâ problem.
As someone who worked in impact investing and climate finance as the REDD + negotiations unfolded, it was clear that forests needed a new business plan and a new strategy needed to be adopted. to solve this chicken egg challenge. Ultimately, this mission led to the formation of Emergent in 2019. Our goal was to create a non-profit intermediary that could engage between tropical forest countries and the private sector to mobilize funding to support emission reductions linked to deforestation. In its most distilled form, the theory of change was simple: if we could muster a strong enough demand signal, the supply of large-scale forest protection solutions would materialize.
It is this same vision that motivated the launch of the LEAF Coalition earlier in the year. Coordinated by Emergent, LEAF is poised to become the largest public-private initiative ever designed to accelerate climate action by providing large-scale, results-based finance to countries determined to protect their tropical forests. Backed by the integrity of ART’s core TREES standard, the goal is to unleash the ambition of tropical forest countries to stop deforestation by sending an unprecedented signal of demand. The Coalition is growing and last week Delta Air Lines and PwC became the last private sector participants to join.
When we launched the initiative, we weren’t sure exactly what response to expect from the Coalition’s Call for Proposals (PA). Based on previous work and awareness raising, we knew there would be significant interest from tropical forest countries, but we could not have given a precise figure.
Well, if there had ever been a question if the interest (and the offer) is there, the response to LEAF’s call for proposals answered it, and answered it definitively.
LEAF has received over 30 submissions from jurisdictions that together cover over half a billion hectares of forests. Proposals were received from jurisdictions on four continents representing the three major tropical forest regions of the world: the Amazon Basin, the Congo Basin and the forests of Southeast Asia. Self-reported volumes estimated by jurisdictions totaling over one billion tonnes of emission reductions over five years.
For those of us who have worked in this space for a long time, there was a sure feeling that an important milestone in the REDD + journey was reached with this answer; a significant step forward towards the goal of Gigaton Green Challenge. It showed the tremendous determination and political will of forest countries to protect their forests. Now is the time for demand to respond and intensify on even larger scales.
Over the coming period, Emergent will work closely with the participants of the LEAF Coalition to carefully review the proposals in order to identify those capable of meeting the rigorous selection criteria and ambitious deadlines of the call for proposals. Discussions with the courts are taking place over the next few months, with the aim of announcing the first round of agreements by the end of this year.
But LEAF’s $ 1 billion goal is just the start. These proposals have opened up a huge opportunity for the world to come together and support ending tropical deforestation. Emerging’s mission and ambition is to mobilize sufficient funding to unleash the full potential represented by these proposals and beyond. We have entered a new phase of the global REDD + effort, and I, for one, am delighted with the result.