Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Group chairman Teguh Ganda Wijaya today joins a number of companies, governments and NGOs to sign the New York Declaration on Forests at the UN Climate Summit 2014. The declaration is an unprecedented international, multi-sector commitment to safeguard the world’s forests and to help tackle climate change.
All signatories of the Declaration — which include The Kellogg Company, Marks & Spencer, Barclays, Nestlé, Cargill, and NGOs including the RSPB, WWF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — have committed to a vision of slowing, halting and reversing global forest loss, while simultaneously contributing to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law, food security, climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.
The declaration, formalized at an event hosted this morning by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, highlights that reducing emissions from deforestation and increasing forest restoration are key to tackling climate change. Partners are called on to work together to:
- Decrease by at least half the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and strive to end natural forest loss by 2030
- Restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020 and significantly increase the rate of global restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030
- The full list of commitments have the collective target of achieving a reduction in emissions by 4.5-8.8 billion tons per year by 2030
“United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has done the planet and some of its most critical ecosystems a great service in convening this groundbreaking meeting of governments, global business leaders and NGOs,” Ganda Wijaya said. “Business can take the lead in delivering these commitments, but we must work closely with all stakeholders including governments and NGOs to truly tackle deforestation and climate change. One of the most effective ways to do this is by conserving forest, planting trees and protecting the natural forest that surrounds.”
“We at APP also believe that forest-based products can help in this regard because they retain carbon, are recyclable and, when sourced from responsibly managed plantations, are often more sustainable than the alternatives," Wijaya said.
Aida Greenbury, APP’s managing director of sustainability, added: “We have shown through our own Zero Deforestation policies that ambitious targets to protect the world’s remaining forests can be agreed, implemented and achieved by companies operating in emerging economies. Our view is that wherever a company is involved in the forest supply chain, they should be implementing these policies immediately. There is no time to waste.”
Greenpeace welcomed the renewed commitment expressed in the New York Declaration but raised concerns that voluntary commitments cannot replace government action.
“We need strong laws to protect forests and people, as well as better enforcement of existing laws," said Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo. "While we are celebrating announcements on paper today, forests and forest peoples are facing imminent threats that must be averted if we want the Declaration to become reality. The New York Declaration is missing ambitious targets and tangible actions. Halting the global loss of natural forests by 2030 and eliminating deforestation from agricultural commodities by 2020 at the latest would mean that years of continued forest clearance still lie ahead of us."
In the meantime, she said: “Indonesia's deforestation rates continue to skyrocket. As we gather in New York, schools are being closed in Sumatra due to the haze caused by devastating forest fires. The Amazon is threatened by mega-infrastructure projects such as dams that would lead to massive forest clearance. Africa's vast intact forests are still being logged for timber without effective control, while increasingly at risk of being converted into agriculture plantations. After years of negotiations and good-will declarations, the world’s forests and forest dependent peoples cannot afford further delays of meaningful action.”
Greenpeace urges that these immediate actions be taken to protect the world’s forests:
- Governments should immediately start enforcing forest conservation and anti-corruption laws while reshaping their legislative frameworks to effectively protect natural forests and peatlands.
- Governments need to secure and protect the rights and territories of indigenous peoples
- Companies should immediately halt forest clearance and implement effective No Deforestation policies.
- Donor governments need to put their money where their mouth is and commit significant finance for forest conservation and land tenure reform. Funding for forest protection needs to come in addition to drastic cuts in emissions from fossil fuels. “Forest offsets” that would allow polluters to continue polluting will not help avert catastrophic climate change.
- At the same time, governments need to cut financing for projects that contribute to deforestation and degradation, including industrial logging and the expansion of monoculture plantations in High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests. Equally, public and private finance institutions such as the Norwegian Pension Fund and the World Bank need to refrain from investing in projects that cause forest destruction.
- Finally, governments in consumer markets need to help cut the demand for products and commodities linked to deforestation. They should develop public policies and measures that ensure “deforestation-free products” for consumers and help level the playing field for companies that have committed to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from their supply chain.
“We’ve seen many a declaration at high-level meetings,” concluded Naidoo, “but we can only celebrate when well-meaning words finally result in immediate, effective action to save the world’s forests. We look forward to learning more about the steps that will be taken in the short and medium term to implement these commitments.”
APP announced its Forest Conservation Policy and zero deforestation commitment in February 2013 and throughout the last 18 months has been working successfully to implement this policy. Earlier this year, the company made a further commitment to support the protection and restoration of one million hectares of tropical rainforest landscapes in Indonesia, one of the most ambitious conservation commitments ever made by a private company. And a study released earlier this month showed the company has sufficient plantation resources to meet the pulp requirements of its existing mills as well as its future mill in OKI, South Sumatra — confirming that APP is on track to meet its target of producing 100 percent of its pulp and paper free from fiber or activity linked to deforestation.