COP26 wrap-up: Climate Pact, due diligence and Indigenous peoples

Insight / 18 Nov 2021

We’ve had time to reflect on COP26, and while there has been some disappointment with the final deal from the Climate Conference, the two weeks did see nature, forests and people more firmly embedded in the climate agenda than ever before.

And in the last few days that momentum has continued as the EU published new draft due diligence laws that could deliver a significant shift in company action on deforestation.

Glasgow Climate Pact mentions forests and nature

The preamble of the Glasgow Climate Pact, the final COP26 agreement signed by almost 200 governments, notes ‘the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity.’

The adaptation section notes the negative impact climate change has on nature as well as people, while the mitigation section explicitly sets out the essential part nature plays in contributing positively to greenhouse gas emissions reductions, with the text ‘emphasizing the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goal’.

Increasing support for Indigenous peoples

Alongside a clearer connection between nature and climate, CO26 saw large Indigenous delegations, including the largest ever from Brazil, advocating for their rights for respect and for power in a forum where they had been too long diminished or simply ignored. Next to the first week’s deforestation pledges, a smaller group of governments pledged US$1.7 bn to support Indigenous peoples advance their land rights by 2025. This is important progress but still only a very first step.

“There is no solution to deforestation without protecting Indigenous rights and embracing Indigenous knowledge,” said Global Canopy Executive Director Niki Mardas at our event ‘Raising the Roof: Voices for the Amazon‘. The evening event featured a number of Brazilian Indigenous leaders, artists and scientists. The full recording of the event is now available on YouTube.

Deforestation commitments continue with UK soy manifesto

The second week of COP also saw deforestation on the agenda, with 27 companies signing up to the UK Soy Manifesto, including Nestlé, Tesco and McDonald’s. Soy is one of the four main commodities linked to deforestation. Signatories commit for all their shipments of soy to the UK to be deforestation and conversion free as soon as possible, and by 2025 at the latest. The UK-focused manifesto follows a similar initiative in France, with discussions underway for Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands to follow. Global Canopy’s Trase data shows that about 60% of the UK soy consumption is covered by the new Manifesto.

Looking ahead

As we have heard, the road from COP26 is more important than the road to COP. And now, the challenge ahead will be to continue to raise ambitions for nature, climate and rights, while ensuring that governments, financial institutions and corporates are held accountable to deliver on the commitments made over the last weeks. Improved nature-related data and transparency will play a key role.

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