The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body established by States to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being, and sustainable development.
As forests are the 1st land-based carbon sink on Earth, why is it crucial to simultaneously extend their protection and restoration to meet Paris Agreement on climate?
Deforestation, which is an important source of CO2 needs to be halted, and carbon sequestered through reforestation.
The burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) along with deforestation are the most important sources of carbon dioxide, the dominant anthropogenic greenhouse gas. The Paris climate agreement calls for limiting global warming to less than 2oC, and preferably 1.5oC, to limit the adverse consequences of climate change on socio-economic sectors, human health and nature. Limiting warming to 1.5oC requires reducing current global emissions of carbon dioxide by 50% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by mid-century, along with significant reductions in other greenhouse gases. This cannot be achieved without a drastic change in the way we produce and use energy, as well as halting deforestation and sequestering carbon through reforestation of degraded lands. Halting deforestation and the restoration of deforested lands can simultaneously address the issues of climate mitigation and adaptation and be beneficial for biodiversity and livelihoods. However, reforestation projects need to consider the optimum planting strategy taking into account biodiversity, indigenous peoples and local communities, and the impact of climate change on tree species.
Forest also represents the biggest landed-based biodiversity shelter on Earth. To what extent their biodiversity, which is at risk, constitutes a strong basis of the ecosystem services we all depend on?
The vital ecosystems services provided by forests is totally dependent upon forest biodiversity.
Conserving and restoring biodiversity throughout the forests of the world is essential to ensure the continuous provision of the ecosystems services (also known as “Natures Contributions to People”) vital for current and future generations. Forests provide the provisioning (e.g., food, energy, and medicines), regulating (e.g., climate, pollution, clean water, pests and diseases, pollination, and floods) and cultural (e.g., sense of place, recreation, education) services that are essential for human well-being. The current unprecedented rate of loss of biodiversity (plants and animals) in all ecosystems, in particular forests, is resulting in almost all regulating and cultural services being lost, as well as some provisioning services, e.g., pollination. Therefore, it is urgent to conserve and restore biodiversity through a network of well-managed inter-connected protected areas, as well as integrating biodiversity into all intensively managed agricultural systems and forests. Reforestation projects need to take into account an ensemble of climate, biodiversity and social considerations.
Why multi-stakeholder cooperation (States, private sector, indigenous people…) is essential to meet global climate and biodiversity goals, including through forest protection and restoration?
Multi-stakeholder cooperation is absolutely vital to address climate change, loss of biodiversity and forests.
There is an urgent need to mobilize the many interacting autonomous decision-making entities of today's society. It can be achieved through a fair and participatory polycentric governance approach where all stakeholders have voice, and have individual, complementary and nested roles to play in the transition to a sustainable future where the issues of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the conservation and restoration of forests are successfully addressed. Governments need to initiate and lead in intergovernmental cooperation, policies and legislation. Financial organizations need to align their lending operations to net-zero carbon emissions and develop innovative financing mechanisms for investing in the conservation and restoration of nature. Private sector need to innovate, implement, and comply with environmental legislation and implement certified and traceable sustainable practices. Civil Society, including NGOs and indigenous peoples and local communities should challenge governments and the private sector to be more sustainable and then hold them accountable for their environmental promises, commitments and responsibilities.