Leaders from the private, public and civil society sectors convened at REDD+ Talks: NYC to discuss their experiences of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and the role of the private sector in advancing this critical mechanism to tackle deforestation and climate change.
Held at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, the event provided a platform for high-level REDD+ practitioners and leaders of the business and policy worlds, indigenous peoples, and forest communities to explore the contributions the private sector can make to REDD+ through finance, sustainable operations, project investment, and sharing expertise.
Hundreds of invited guests gathered to hear speakers including Edward Norton (Oscar-nominated actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity), Heikki Holmas (Minister for International Development, Norway), Achim Steiner (Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP), Marie-Claire Daveu (Chief Sustainability Officer & Head of international institutional affairs, Kering), and TJ DiCaprio (Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft). The program was followed by a reception in the zoo’s spectacular Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit.
Climate change is one of the most pressing problems currently facing humanity. Overwhelming scientific evidence concludes that we need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 13 billion tons by 2020 in order to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change.
Tackling deforestation is central to this challenge, as deforestation and forest degradation currently contribute approximately 15 percent of global GHG emissions – more than the entire global transportation sector.
“By some estimates, the world will need to invest $40 billion a year to halve the rate of global deforestation – and in doing so, play a pivotal role in tackling poverty, combating climate change and catalyzing a transition to an inclusive Green Economy,” said Achim Steiner of UNEP.
Deforestation has other devastating impacts such as endangering biodiversity, reducing fresh water supply, and threatening the livelihoods of communities who live in and around forests.
“Forest communities must be given the final say over what happens to the forests they call home. It is our experience that most will make a clear choice to protect their environment if they are given a competitive economic alternative,” said Mike Korchinsky, Founder and CEO of Wildlife Works and REDD+ Talks: NYC speaker.
REDD+ offers an innovative and effective approach to tackling deforestation and reducing emissions without massive investment in unproven technologies. REDD+ is therefore rapidly emerging as a key strategy in climate change mitigation.
“REDD+ is a bridge between the indigenous world and the non-indigenous world, so it’s an appropriate way to begin this process,” said Almir Narayamoga Surui, Chief of the Suruí People and REDD+ Talks: NYC speaker who spearheaded a REDD+ project in the Brazilian Amazon. “It creates a vehicle through which the capitalist system can recognize the value of standing forests, and indigenous people can be rewarded for preserving them.”
In contrast to previous attempts to save forests, REDD+ aims to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to protect forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and invest in low-carbon pathways to sustainable development.
“When the carbon project came, oh wow – there was a change. We now have education. Most of the children have started going to secondary school and university. We are going to have a different nation!” said Mama Mercy Ngaruiya, REDD+ Talks: NYC speaker and Chairlady of the Tumaini Women’s Group in Kasigau, Kenya, on the benefits her community has seen from the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project.
REDD+ Talks: NYC was significant in bringing together leaders from many of the sectors that are key to REDD+’s success.
TJ DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft said, “We are part of the problem. We also need to be part of the solution. We needed to get our own house in order first and clean up our own operations. In order to do that, our reductions in carbon emissions had to go to zero.”
Representatives from forest country governments, forest communities, major corporations, investment institutions and project development companies, explored the various roles the private sector can play in REDD+ and considered the many ways that companies can help to achieve the environmental and social gains that REDD+ promises.
“We have already demonstrated that we can overcome the many technical, financial and social challenges of implementing a REDD+ project. We are already protecting threatened forests by bringing unprecedented benefits to forest communities, and our work has already generated millions of tons of real avoided emissions,” said Korchinsky. “The biggest challenge now is getting more corporations to voluntarily offset their unavoidable emissions with REDD+ emission reductions. Reducing emissions through REDD+ is a pay for performance, ecosystem service. The sale of REDD+ emissions reductions is critical to allow this transformative model to work.”
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is an essential climate change mitigation strategy originated by the United Nations, designed to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests. REDD+ is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
About Wildlife Works
Wildlife Works, creator of REDD+ Talks and Code REDD, is the voluntary carbon market’s leading REDD+ project development and management company. Wildlife Works is the first company in the world to successfully generate REDD+ Verified Emission Reductions (VERs). It has marketed more than 2.5M tons of REDD+ VERs to some of the world’s leading corporations including Microsoft, Barclays Bank, Allianz, Marks & Spencer, BNP Paribas and Kering (Gucci, YSL, Volcom, Puma, etc). Wildlife Works REDD+ projects deliver unprecedented environmental and social benefits to seriously impoverished parts of Africa that are in desperate need of change. To see more about Wildlife Works’ pioneering REDD+ project in Kenya, visit www.reddtalks.com/redd-talk/when-a-tree-stands
REDD+ Talks: NYC was presented by the UN-REDD Programme in collaboration with Code REDD and Wildlife Works. The event was hosted at the Bronx Zoo by Wildlife Conservation Society. Media coverage was provided by CSRwire. The UN-REDD Programme is a joint initiative of FAO, UNDP and UNEP that supports nationally-led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities, in REDD+ implementation. Code REDD is a global nonprofit based in San Francisco whose mission is to support & scale the REDD+ mechanism through REDD+ projects to empower people, preserve forests, protect wildlife, and reduce emissions. To learn more about deforestation and its role in global warming, visit www.reddtalks.com/redd-talk/redd-talks-2013-intro