of the 2021 Global Forest Summit
8.45 to 9.15 am, CET
The Earth was covered with 6000 billion trees before the agricultural revolution. Today, it has half as many, mainly due to human-induced deforestation. If only tropical deforestation was a country today, it would be the third largest CO2 emitter, behind China and the United States. Stopping deforestation is an absolute priority. The future of human societies and of future generations is at stake. Extending the sustainable management of forests and massively restoring forest ecosystems are two other vital priorities to complete the objective of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and avoid the sixth mass extinction of species.
It is clear that International actors and companies have not acted fast enough in the last decades. Today, thanks in particular to the valuable efforts of civil society, forests are rising at an increasing rate to the top of the decision-makers' agenda. States and International Organizations are becoming more committed to forests. The European Union, with its new forest strategy to be published in 2021, the United Kingdom, through the recent launch of the Dialogue on Forests, Agriculture and Trade in Commodities (FACT), or Costa Rica, through its successful experience in forest restoration, are concrete examples. The participants in this opening panel of the Global Forest Summit will discuss major international forest issues and how States can strengthen their commitments, particularly in the context of enhanced multilateral cooperation with forest actors and specialists.
2021: The Momentum to accelerate Forest protection and Restoration
9.30 to 10.50 am, CET
In 2021, the world’s forests are at a turning point. Although deforestation has decreased since 1990 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it still continues to rage. Ten million hectares were deforested each year between 2015 and 2020, fueling global warming and biodiversity loss. The need to accelerate the fight against deforestation and forest degradation has never been more important. At the same time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that among the measures that will contribute to limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century, the world needs more than ten million km2 of forests to reach the objective by 2050. Yet, only 1% of the funding dedicated to the fight against climate change focuses on nature-based solutions, among which the restoration of ecosystems.
In this context, international projects launched to restore forests are developing at an increasing pace, such as 1T Initiative driven by the World Economic Forum and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, beginning in 2021. To be successful, these actions must promote and rely upon high-quality processes of reforestation: ones that respect biodiversity, involve local communities and manage to get massive financial support. Both forest protection and restoration are necessary. In this regard, each one of us has a responsibility: citizens, project leaders, indigenous communities, NGOs, private sector, governments and International Organizations. How can we actively reinforce the fight against deforestation in 2021? How can we restore forests in a sustainable way, considering they will provide us with a diversity of ecosystem services? Which actors, partnerships and funding should this global momentum be developed with? Experts at this roundtable will share their views on the subject.
Keynote speaker: Dr. Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace
Forests & Health
11.10 am to 12.20 am, CET
Forests bring substantial benefits to the health and well-being of the living world, especially human societies. They play a vital role in food security: 2.4 billion people, particularly within indigenous communities, use wood for cooking and nearly 800 million use it to sterilize water. 100 million Europeans consume edible products derived from forests and 50% of the fruits we consume come from trees. Forests are also a genuine source of natural medicine: most of the 28,000 plant species listed for their medicinal virtues come from forest ecosystems. Thanks to their effects against pollution and heat islands, as well as their positive impact on cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, urban trees and forests constitute proper public health solutions for cities, urban areas being home to more than 55% of the world's population. One should also keep in mind that forests have the power to reconnect us, humans, to our true self. They are members of the living world we have no other choice than to cooperate harmoniously with.
However, the alteration of the world's forest ecosystems now threatens the health of all humanity. Deforestation has thus become a driving force behind global pandemics. Scientists are clear: in the absence of a strategy to stem the destruction of nature and forests in particular, future pandemics will occur more often, spread faster, cause more deaths and damage to the world economy than COVID-19. In this context of ecosystem health being increasingly linked to that of animals and humans, as illustrated by the concept of One Health, how can a more sustainable management and protection of forests serve our collective existence? How can the development of urban forests contribute to improve the health of city dwellers? These are some of the questions that will be answered by the experts at this roundtable.
Keynote Speaker: Chief Ninawa, Leader of the Huni Kui people
Dr. Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization
Forests & Biodiversity
1.50 to 3.10 pm, CET
Biodiversity is the fundamental basis for human well-being, economic prosperity and peace among nations. The world's forests are priceless natural settings, home to 80% of the Earth's biodiversity. Biodiversity is also the source of many ecosystem services provided by the forests. These services, such as CO2 storage, oxygen production, water filtration and regulation of the climate cycle are essential to human life. However, this treasure of biodiversity is under threat, notably due to deforestation, a phenomenon largely fueled by industrial agriculture. The degradation of forests is deeply concerning since it now exceeds deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.
Between 1970 and 2014, the presence of wildlife within the world's forests has fallen by 53%. In Europe, 60% of the species listed by the Habitats Directive as living in forests or woodlands now show a poor state of conservation as well as an unfavorable trend of evolution. Needless to say, global solutions have to be found urgently and without delay to respond to the alarming forest biodiversity loss around the world. The restoration of forests with rich biodiversity, more resistant to natural hazards and providing ecosystem services, is also instrumental in responding to biodiversity and climate change on a global scale. While the massive decline of forest biodiversity is mortgaging the future of humanity, how can agroforestry, the transformation of companies’ value chains as well as the evolution of forest management practices contribute to preserve this biodiversity? By what means and with whom, should the current wave of global reforestation enable the restoration of diverse forests? Experts at this roundtable will share their thoughts on these questions.
Keynote Speaker: Louise Mabulo, Young Champion of the Earth 2019
Chris Buss, Director of the Forest Conservation Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Dr. Maya Leroy, Professor at AgroParisTech, Chair of the Scientific Board of ECOFOR
Moderator: Thomas Friang, Founder & CEO of the Open Diplomacy Institute
Forests & Climate
3.30 to 4.50 pm, CET
Because they are the main source of carbon on earth, forests are our best allies in the face of climate emergency. On a global scale, they absorb and store around 30% of current levels of carbon emissions in their biomass, soils and derived wood products. According to the Signatory States of the New York Declaration on Forests for 2014, they represent the most complete and economical climate solution available today. As defined by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem (IPBES), deforestation alone contributes to about 10% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This never-ending decline of forests around the world contributes to global warming, a phenomenon currently driving the world towards a 3°C temperature rise by 2100.
In terms of commitments, States are struggling to achieve their ambitions, as illustrated by the n°1 objective of the UN Strategic Plan on Forests 2017-2030. The objective was to halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and significantly increase afforestation and reforestation worldwide by 2020. Accelerating the protection of forests, managing and restoring them in a sustainable way must therefore become three inseparable and urgent global climate priorities. While the international business and public sector actors, including the European Union, commit to reforestation and restoration with an objective of three billion trees by 2030, the quality of the reforestations carried out is at stake. It is essential to contribute as much as possible to the restoration of mixed-species forests, as they are generally more resistant and resilient to climatic phenomena, such as droughts. Which strategies can we implement to increase carbon sinks and achieve global carbon neutrality through forests? How should companies strengthen their actions against deforestations caused by industrial agriculture? Experts at the roundtable will bring some inputs to these questions.
Keynote Speaker: Alexandria Villaseñor, Founder of Earth Uprising International
Forests & Economy
5.10 to 6.30 pm, CET
The world's forests are priceless and must be protected for their intrinsic value, regardless of their worth for humans. At the same time, they play a vital role within our economy: their value has been estimated at some $150 trillion. For example, some 45 million small and medium-sized enterprises are specialized in the forest sector worldwide. Between 40 and 60 million people work in the informal forest sector. Forests also provide an average of 22% of the income of people living in rural areas in Asia, in tropical and subtropical areas in Africa and Latin America. These figures are highly significant. The world's forest resources are also a genuine source of innovation since they contribute to the development of a low-carbon and circular economy. Like the energy and wood construction sectors, the forest constitutes an economic lung which has the potential to create jobs: 13 million jobs worldwide by 2030. Similarly, while carbon is already subject to an international market, other forest ecosystem services are beginning to generate income locally.
But while forests are a pillar of global economic development, it has led to the destruction of 40% of humanity's natural capital since 1992. Transforming our economies through a framework that respects ecosystems, especially forests, is therefore a major emergency. From this perspective, reforestation could make a precious contribution to nature-based solutions. For example, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested land worldwide could provide up to $9 trillion in net gains. How can we develop the contribution of forests to an economic system that would be both circular and respectful of biodiversity, especially in terms of bioenergy? Does the growing commercialization of forest ecosystem services provide an ethical and successful solution to enhance the protection of forests? Experts at the roundtable will provide some insights and discuss the economic impact of public land use policies.
Keynote Speaker: Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Founder of the Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous Peoples of Chad (AFPAT)
6.35 to 7.40 pm, CET
"If we don't change course, we could be heading for a catastrophic increase in temperatures of more than three degrees during this century," warned last December the Secretary General of the United Nations. During the Ambition Climate 2020 Summit, organized five years after the signing of the Paris Accord, Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries and accelerate action.
Unfortunately, after many years of environmental diplomacy and international meetings, forests are themselves in a state of climate emergency. From then on, there is only one option and demand that brings us all together: to finally, in 2021, move on from years of declarations and conventions to a real decade of action. In the run-up to COP 15 on Biodiversity, the IUCN World Conservation Congress and COP 26 on Climate, the panelists of this closing session of the Global Forest Summit will discuss the path to follow to definitively make forests one of the priority subjects on the international agenda for the next ten years. Ten years to act without failing.
Reforest'Action is a B Corp certified company whose mission is to preserve and restore the world's forests in response to the twin crisis of climate and biodiversity.
The Open Diplomacy Institute is a French think-tank working on global governance of sustainability. It aims at accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.