By endorsing the Paris Agreement, the European Union (EU) has made a commitment to halt deforestation and forest degradation and protect carbon sinks and storage. The efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees will also require forest restoration and changes in management regimes to suck the excess carbon away from the atmosphere. A central challenge for the EU is to play a leading role on climate to enable forests to play their positve role.
In parallel, parties to the Paris Agreement will start revising their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and EU Member States will translate their financial commitments into concrete funding support.
In early 2018 the European Commission will also publish its multiannual workplan on the implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. The workplan was developed with inputs from civil society organisations from VPA countries and European NGOs although it remains unclear whether our key recommendations will be reflected in the final version.
These developments provided an important opportunity for Fern and its partners to invite EU representatives, experts and civil society to our panel event on 7 March 2018, "Achieving the 1.5° Target with Forests: What Role for the EU?" chaired by MEPs Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA) and Carlos Zorrinho (S&D). The event discussed the Commission workplan priorities, reiterated the relevance and impact of the VPAs, encouraged EU institutions and Member States to integrate FLEGT principles and forests into relevant climate interventions, and raised the importance of restoring degraded forest ecosystems by working closely with local communities.
The event consisted of two panels - see below the available presentations:
Panel 1 - Forest Governance: A Tool to Strengthen Climate Action?
Chantal Marijnissen, Head of Unit, DG DEVCO C2 - Environment, Natural Resources, Water, European Commission
Dr Michiel Schaeffer, Director and Senior Scientist, Climate Analytics
Panel 2 - How Can EU Support Climate Mitigation via Forest Restoration?
A preview of film “Putting Down Roots”
Vũ Thị Bích Hợp, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD)
Alberto Arroyo Schnell, Senior Policy Manager, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
See also an article on EurActiv "Forests are crucial in salvaging the Paris goals – EU must lead the way" by our hosts MEPs Heidi Hautala and Carlos Zorrinho