Sustainable long-term financing vital to successfully maintain and restore the world’s forests

©FAO5 May 2022, Seoul - Shifts in policies are needed to divert financial flows away from actions that harm forests and to incentivize investment in conservation, restoration and sustainable use, Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said at the XV World Forestry Congress on Tuesday.

In her opening speech at the Ministerial Forum on Forest Finance event, Semedo highlighted the importance of forests to the world’s economy.

“Around half of the world’s GDP moderately or highly depends on ecosystem services, including those provided by forests,” she said. “Forest finance needs to at least triple by 2030 to meet climate, biodiversity and land degradation neutrality targets.”

Viable options do exist, Semedo emphasized, noting results-based payments schemes as one example and urging countries to mainstream forestry as part of national accounting with fiscal and financial policies.

The event brought together government ministers and global organization heads to discuss how countries can incorporate forests into their development and financial policy agendas, as well as how to bridge the implementation financing gap, scale up forest protection efforts and leverage climate finance instruments.

“We must promote win-win solutions for increased sustainable production, while halting deforestation,” Semedo said, outlining a green and circular bioeconomy, clear national targets for sustainable agricultural development and forest conservation and secure land tenure and land rights as ways of doing this.

High-level speakers

Welcome remarks at the event were given by Doguel Ahn, the Republic of Korea’s Vice Minister for Economy and Finance, who highlighted that successful forest restoration has led to 65 percent tree coverage across the country and urged other nations to make forest finance a priority.

In a video address, Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister for International Environment and Climate Change stressed the need to change the way public money is spent to support forests as public goods, adjusting the rules across sectors and markets to take nature into account.

Mainstreaming forests contribution to development and climate action

After a presentation from Frank Rijsberman, Director General of the Global Green Growth Institute, the first panel at the high-level event included the participation of Byeong-Am Choi, Minister of the Korea Forest Service, Rosalie Matondo, Republic of Congo’s Minister for Forest Economy, and Marcial Amaro Jr, Assistant Secretary of the Philippines’ Department for Environment and Natural Resources, who discussed how their respective countries were taking action to incorporate forests into the development agenda. Proper valuation, and internalization of the value of forests in markets remains a key goal.

Options and challenges

The session highlighted the need to advance on multiple fronts, from the broader use of financial instruments like debt swaps, green bonds and carbon markets, to support building robust portfolios of investible projects and developing appropriate financing vehicles. 

Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, gave an opening talk to kickstart the second panel, which included Lee White, Gabon’s Minister of Water, Forest, the Sea and Environment, Bianca Dager Jervis, Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Environment, and Pem Narayan Kandel, Nepal’s Secretary at Ministry of Forests and Environment. Glemarec stressed the opportunities linked to green bonds as well as the growing nature and carbon markets.

Panellists emphasized the need for additional financing and the complexities involved in accessing and deploying financing to address climate commitments as well as national development needs.

Ali Abo Sena, Head of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, concluded the event with some food for thought on the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), which Egypt will host in Sharm el-Sheikh in November.

last updated:  Thursday, May 5, 2022