Norway Leads $400 Million Effort To Preserve Forests

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - The Government of Norway is charging ahead with an initiative to curb deforestation across the globe. Announced during the World Economic Forum last month, the Norwegian government is setting up a new fund to kickstart investments in deforestation-free agriculture in countries that are keen on reducing their forest and peat degradation.

Norway will work in partnership with the Global Environment Facility, UN Environment Programme, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), food companies and environmental NGOs. The aim of the fund is to protect an area bigger than Costa Rica, or more than five million hectares of forest and peatlands.

The Scandinavian country has committed up to $100 million for the launch of the fund, with a capitalization goal of $400 million by 2020. The money will come from donors and private sector partners, and will be used in part to help boost productivity among small-scale farmers.

Protecting forests from agriculture is crucial to preserve tree coverage since this industry accounts for a major slice of the problem. Between 2000 and 2012, 2.3 million square kilometres of forest were cut down. Instead of intensifying production on existing arable lands, much of agricultural production has tended to expand into tropical forests, such as the Amazon and rainforest in Indonesia, to name but a few.

The fund will provide an incentive for governments in tropical areas to protect forests and curb emissions that come from deforestation. It is part of a wider drive called Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, a global public-private partnership to create a deforestation-free supply chain hosted at the World Economic Forum. Another goal of the fund is to help countries with forests to meet their commitments under the UN Paris Climate Agreement and contribute to a number of Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty eradication, climate action, water management and biodiversity.

Amongst corporate leaders supporting the initiative are Carrefour, Marks & Spencer, Mars, Metro, Nestlé, and Unilever, besides the Consumer Goods Forum and other industry associations. Unilever is the first corporate investor in the fund, and it will inject $25 million over a five-year period.

“The fund is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals and climate nexus. This unparalleled public-private partnership will leverage the commitment of Consumer Goods Forum companies to meet our shared goal to eliminate deforestation, while supporting enhanced livelihoods for farmers in our supply chain,” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO.

Image credit: Tropical Forest Alliance 2020