We are pleased to share this issue of ICFPA News, the electronic bulletin of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations, a global forum for forest-based industries which aims to promote global cooperation on issues of common interest to companies of its member countries. The newsletter is aimed at all stakeholders of the ICFPA. This issue was prepared by the ICFPA secretariat to inform members and stakeholders about climate negotiations, the understanding of ICFPA in regards to the role played by the forest products industry as part of the solution to climate change, and some perspectives considering the COP-22 negotiations. We hope you enjoy this issue! 

Global Context

The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-21) in Paris last year was a great global effort to negotiate a global agreement to cover the post-2020 climate regime under UNFCCC. The Paris Agreement has been signed by 192 countries and ratified by 87 countries (more than 55 parties covering more than 55% of global emissions), and entered into force on November 4, 2016. From November 7 to 18, the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement took place in Marrakech, in Morocco in conjunction with COP22, which aimed to discuss and advance implementation of the countries' Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Opening Ceremony

The COP22 climate conference started in Marrakesh on November 7 with several opening discussions emphasizing the crucial role of business in delivering a low-carbon economy. Morocco's Foreign Minister and COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar recognized the upsurge of global momentum in recent months, and invited countries "to be more ambitious". UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa underlined key areas in which work needs to advance including finance to allow development towards greening national economies and building resilience and fully engaging non-party stakeholders (including businesses and industries), as central to the global climate action agenda.

The Forest Products Industry

Although ICFPA did not participate as a forum at COP 22, forests and the global forest products industry were often recognized as being central to delivery of the Paris pledges and global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ICFPA reiterates that as a renewable and recyclable resource, forests of all types play a critical role in the global carbon cycle. Several countries included forests and forestry industry in their NDCs, as highlighted in the ICFPA-commissioned report Analysis of Forest Contributions to the INDCs by researcher Paulo Canaveira. After examining forest contributions to the national targets of ICFPA member countries and global mitigation effort from 2020 onwards, the report concludes that many countries identify forests and the land-use sector as relevant to policies and measures implemented to meet their targets. Reducing emissions from deforestation as well as sustainable forest management, afforestation, and reforestation are commonly mentioned as key mitigation practices. In some developing countries, these activities even constitute the country's main contributions. ICFPA therefore sees COP 22 as an impetus for discussing the implementation of proposed targets considering forests and this industry as part of the solution to mitigate climate change.

Low-Carbon Industry

Global forest-based industry is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through restructuring and efficiency improvements at mills. The 2015 ICFPA Sustainability Progress Report shows that members have achieved an impressive drop in their GHG emissions, 5 percent since 2010/2011 and 17 percent since the baseline year of 2004-2005. A significant component of these improvements has been reducing reliance on fossil fuel energy and producing more "green" renewable energy from biomass on-site to run operations. 

The world's forests are "carbon sinks" that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in trees and soil.  As part of the industry's sustainability practices, existing trees that are harvested are generally regrown, ensuring maintenance of carbon stocks; furthermore, new plantings on degraded lands cause remove additional GHGs. The carbon is also stored in products made from wood, including paper. This storage is further prolonged through the recov­ery and recycling of forest products. 

The global industry is finding new innovative ways to use wood fiber; in addition to the use of conventional forest products, bio-products can substitute for items traditionally made from fossil fuels. ICFPA members are developing new markets for bio-based products through innovative technologies.  Wood fiber is now present in everything from chemicals to cosmetics to car parts.  This represents a shift in the economy, and by using wood-based products consumers contribute to a low-carbon economy.

Forest Action Event - The Role of Forestry

On November 8 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in partnership with the Government of Morocco and the United Nations Development Program (UNEP), held an event called Forest Action Day as part of the Global Climate Action Agenda to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests. Helen Clark, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator, said that forests are one of the largest and most cost-effective responses we have to climate change. FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry Rene Castro stressed that healthier forests will also contribute to many other global development goals by providing food, income, fuel and shelter, and added that reaching the "the Zero Hunger goal of the SDGs cannot be achieved by 2030 without addressing climate change, and climate change cannot be addressed without managing the world's forests in a sustainable manner." The event also discussed streamlining and scaling up of financing mechanisms to allow for the accomplishment of NDC through forestry.

Forest Leaders - Ongoing Actions 

On November 8th, global forest leaders announced a series of measures at COP22 that demonstrate concrete progress is being made towards delivering on the Paris climate pledges and global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Initiatives from several countries from Africa to Indonesia to South America were presented to demonstrate how forests and land use are a part of and actually contributing to the Nationally Determined Contributions of several Parties to the Climate Convention.

The announcement also comes only two years after the New York Declaration on Forests, an ambitious multi-stakeholder commitment to cut deforestation in half by 2020 and end natural forest loss by 2030.

Some of the announcements made at the event include:

Moratorium on Indonesian Peatland Clearing: The Government of Indonesia announced it is implementing a moratorium on clearing super-high-carbon intact peatland.

Forest Planning for Peace in Colombia: Over the past three years, deforestation has been reduced by 50% below the average during 1990-2010. Now, in conjunction with the peace process, Colombia has announced plans to close the forest frontier as a key component of a post-conflict future. Efforts include focusing development on non-forest lands, implementing strong tenure reform, and placing very large areas of forest under the control of indigenous peoples.

African Leadership on Sustainable Development: The public-private partnership Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) showcases progress of partnership through the African Palm Oil Initiative, which engages nine African countries. In collaboration with a range of stakeholders, this initiative focuses on transitioning the palm oil sector to a sustainable driver of long-term, low-carbon development in the region in a manner that is socially beneficial and protects tropical forests by developing principles for sustainable oil palm development.

Brazilian Transformation: Brazil's Forest Code is a concrete tool for avoiding illegal deforestation, increasing and consolidating forest conservation, management and restoration processes in the field, and adding sustainable value for Brazilian agriculture and cattle (on both domestic and international levels). The multi-stakeholder Produce, Conserve, Include (PCI) strategy in Mato Grosso, Brazil will simultaneously reduce deforestation in the Amazon by 90% by 2030, increase agricultural production, and promote socioeconomic inclusion of smallholders and traditional populations.

Breakthrough Technology for Transparency: A new partnership between FAO and Google has created Collect Earth, an open-source tool that provides access to large collections of free, high-resolution satellite imagery and cloud computing. This enables countries to produce fast and cost-effective estimates of land use and changes in land use, thus increasing the accuracy of emissions-reduction estimates resulting from deforestation and forest degradation and improving the reliability necessary for performance-based payments. This tool will help in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Ways Forward

Marrakesh finished this past Friday, November 18, with countries reaffirming their determination to comply with the Paris Agreement, including the announcement of more ambitious targets than their initially proposed NDCs (country-determined intentions established in Paris).

The Marrakesh Proclamation contains key actions and deadlines for the implementation of the Agreement in the coming years. It gives concrete substance to the measures required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize the global economy.

The COP-22 conference was dominated by technical negotiations aiming for the regulations and implementations of the Paris Accord. The first steps to develop a new market mechanism were taken during the Marrakesh talks. Even though there is still much to be discussed among the parties, links have been made between this new mechanism and the Clean Development Mechanism, including afforestation and reforestation activities. 

In plenary sessions, delegates from several countries stated their commitments and the relevance of forestry and land use as part of the efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 C by the year 2100. There was also an important message from the COP that the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) will integrate financing for forest-related considerations into its 2017 workplan.

Transparency was also a key issue during the talks, not only with regard to the level of finance directed towards developing countries, but also concerning the monitoring of emissions and removals. Consequently, continuous improvement of methodologies for removal accounting should be considered for Convention talks in coming years.

ICFPA Members Views 

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