UN’s Forest Protection Goals at Risk, Say Independent Assessors

by Vins

A much-publicized United Nations goal to end deforestation by 2030 is unlikely to be achieved, according to an independent assessment, as Olivia Rosane reported for Common Dreams in October 2023.

The problem is money and where it’s directed, according to the latest Forest Declaration Assessment, released in October 2023. “We are investing in activities that are harmful for forests at far higher rates than we are investing in activities that are beneficial for forests,” said Erin Matson, senior consultant at Climate Focus and coordinator of the report.

Specifically, $675 billion a year is invested in exploiting forests versus the mere $2.2 billion a year committed to protecting them, a discrepancy of 307 to 1. To effectively prevent deforestation, the annual sum invested should be $460 billion, more than 200 times the current amount, according to the report.

The latest Forest Declaration Assessment, the work of “a strong and diverse group of research organizations, think tanks, NGOs, and advocacy groups spanning the globe,” is sure to add fuel to complaints that UN climate summits generate more headlines than substance. The goal of 2030 was set in 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26.

Even so, not all countries are failing their forests. More than 50 countries still have the potential to halt deforestation by 2030, and they have laid the groundwork for everyone else to follow, according to the assessment. “The report offered several recommendations for governments, private institutions, and civil society, including protecting and securing Indigenous land rights, boosting finance, and channeling subsidies away from industries and activities that harm forests and towards those that help,” Common Dreams reported.

Simultaneously with the Forest Declaration Assessment, the World Wildlife Fund shared its first Forest Pathways Report, which emphasized four key components to protecting forests. As summarized by Common Dreams, they are: “Accelerating the recognition of Indigenous land rights; Mobilizing finance; Reforming global trade so that supply chains don’t rely on commodities tied to deforestation; and Shifting the economy to value nature.”

In contrast to the celebrity-studded, TV-friendly events of the UN summit in Glasgow, these major reports on deforestation and how to combat it have received scant attention from corporate media.

Source: Olivia Rosane, “‘The World Is Failing Forests’: Report Finds Leaders Way Off Track From Halting Deforestation by 2030,” Common Dreams, October 24, 2023.

Student Researcher: Sophie Cramer (Frostburg State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)