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2022 – a year to turn promises into action

Insight / 14 Dec 2021

As we look ahead to a new year, it’s clear we are going to need both individual leadership and collective action to meet our Paris climate goals. So as we look ahead to 2022, here are five rallying calls from key players in the fight, detailing what needs to happen now to make a difference.

COP26 put deforestation at the front and centre of the fight against climate change. The Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use saw over a  hundred nations pledge to end deforestation by 2030. Financial Institutions too made promises. Thirty, with over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation. Our Roadmap, launched at COP, shows Financial Institutions how to get there. We’ve had failed commitments before. Speaking at the Roadmap’s launch, Lord Goldsmith made clear that there is now no room for failure. In 2022, commitments have to become reality.

Financial Institutions have to step up. They provide the finance that keeps the trade in forest-risk commodities like soy, palm oil, cattle and timber flowing. Their capital gives them the clout to influence those they lend to and invest in. Financial Institutions can create change. Jose Maria Pugas from JGP Asset Management  added that firms need to view deforestation as a moral and existential risk. He appealed  to asset management firms  and financial institutions to commit to deforestation-free finance. If this happens, 2022 could be a real year of change.

For millennia, Indigenous peoples have been stewards of the forests, living and working within and alongside them. They are the forest’s best guardians. There is 50% less deforestation on Indigenous lands. A twelve year study found that even though Indigenous territories cover 28% of the Amazon Basin, they only generated 2.6% of the region’s carbon emissions. Yet in many nations, Indigenous peoples are under attack from governments, illegal loggers and agribusinesses who want their land. 

COP26 promised $1.7bn of funding directly for Indigenous peoples and local communities in recognition of their key role in protecting the planet’s lands and forests. The commitment is crucial, because any solutions to deforestation must place Indigenous peoples at their heart.

Deforestation is in our supermarket shopping, in the food we feed our animals and in the pensions meant for our retirement. That makes us all part of a deforestation economy. We were reminded of this in a powerful speech by Juma Xipaia, the Xipaya leader who spoke at our Amazon Voices event, Raising the Roof. In her closing words she made it clear that everyone of us must take action, and that providing financial support doesn’t exempt anyone from their responsibility to the climate and to the earth.

Plenty will, rightly say, COP26 didn’t go far enough. But for forests there was some cause for optimism. Commitments, the strength and breadth of which we had not seen previously, were made. Going forward it is the job of civil society to ensure that those commitments are translated into action. Our eighth annual  Forest 500 Ranking, due out in January, will show there is still a long way for companies and financial institutions to go. It’s time for them to step up. Governments too must act. 2022 will see due diligence legislation in the UK and EU become law – this legislation has to be strong enough to drive real change to protect our forests.

Credit for imagery from Raising the Roof event: © Niven Photography

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