Forests are crucial to keeping average global temperature rise below 1.5°C. Their protection and restoration could provide a cost-effective solution for climate mitigation, and adaptation. To meet targets for the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land-Use sector, or AFOLU, many countries have made an explicit link to or referenced: Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. Forests’ importance to mitigation and adaptation efforts is also reflected in a broad range of climate finance mechanisms. Forest protection, restoration and land use also figures heavily in the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and other national climate plans.
However, despite the urgency of the climate crisis, forests do not receive adequate attention and funding. A report commissioned by Fern and Transparency International shows that forest climate finance flows in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Indonesia, and Peru are far from transparent and inclusive. The report also shows that climate finance for forests in these countries is yet to contribute effectively to forest resilience and sustainable local livelihoods, or to upholding the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The implementation of NDCs which kickstarts with the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021 provides an opportunity to direct adequate climate finance to forest protection and restoration.
The central recommendations for policy makers or those advising national governments, are to scale up climate finance for forests and strengthen the governance of funding mechanisms. These include:
- Improve access to information and establish transparency policies for forest climate finance
- Broaden the participation of civil society, community, and Indigenous groups
- Enhance financial transparency, implementing redress mechanisms and whistleblower protections to address corruption risks
- Establish community-owned and managed projects, and improving land tenure rights, to reduce land use conflicts and reduce deforestation
- Forest climate finance contributions should be adequate and predictable, and ensure equitable benefit-sharing