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forests cop26

Declaration on forests and land use signed at COP26, explained

Ecuador is one of 128 countries that signed the declaration.
Ecuador is one of 128 countries that signed the declaration.

The forests of the world will be more protected. On the third day of COP26, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, 128 countries signed the Declaration on Forests and Land Use 

The declaration has the main objective of halting and reversing global deforestation by 2030. At the same time, the declaration promises to offer sustainable development and promote an inclusive transformation in rural sectors.

Ecuador is one of the signatories, so the government will have to take additional actions to what it is already doing – with initiatives such as SocioBosque and the REDD + program – to ensure the protection of the country’s forests. According to a publication of the Institute of Biodiversity in coordination with international scientific experts, in the last 28 years Ecuador has lost more than 2 million hectares of tropical forest, that is, about 7.8% of the surface it occupies. 

In addition, according to the scientists who led the study, the deforested area could be even larger because there has not been enough data collection on the state of forests in the country. 

What does the statement say ?

The statement talks about six specific topics:

  1. Conserve forests and other terrestrial ecosystems, and also accelerate their restoration .
  2. Facilitate trade and development policies, both nationally and internationally, that promote the sustainable production and consumption of basic products. The objective is for countries to benefit economically without the need to promote projects that deforest forests or degrade the land.
  3. Reduce the vulnerability of forests, build resilience and improve rural livelihoods. According to the statement, this implies the empowerment of forest-dwelling communities, the development of profitable and sustainable agriculture, and the recognition of the value of the ecosystem. In addition, it proposes that the rights of indigenous peoples and nationalities, and other local communities, be recognized and respected.
  4. Redesign or implement policies and programs to encourage sustainable agriculture and promote food security , without affecting the environment.
  5. Ratify international financial commitments and increase financing and investment from the public and private sectors to encourage: sustainable agriculture, forest management, forest conservation and restoration, and support for indigenous peoples and local communities. 
  6. Facilitate the alignment of financial flows to reverse the loss and degradation of forests. And also ensure the implementation of policies to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and environmentally friendly economy.

The declaration also urges world leaders to join forces to make better use of the earth and its resources globally. According to the document signed at COP26, this is “essential” to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement regarding reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and maintaining the increase in the average temperature of the Earth by 1.5 degrees. centigrade. 

Who has signed the declaration?

According to a latest update from COP26, as of the morning of November 3, 128 countries from all regions in the world had signed the declaration. 

In Latin America, the declaration was signed by 20 countries. Of which four are home to part of the Amazon – one of the largest tropical forests in the world. The only Amazon country in the region that has not signed the declaration is Bolivia: a country whose Amazon represents more than 40% of its territory. 

How is deforestation related to climate change?

Forests play an essential role in regulating the Earth’s climate . First, because they have a direct effect on global and local rainfall patterns, and help regulate the temperature and availability of fresh water. In addition, they are carbon sinks, that is, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. 

But, when forests are deforested or degraded, instead of regulating the Earth’s climate, they make it worse and aggravate the climate crisis because when they are deforested, all the carbon they stored is released. Karina Barrera, Secretary for Climate Change at the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, said in a presentation at COP26 that the world’s forests could release “6 trillion tons of carbon” if they were to be lost. 


This story was originally published on gk.city, with the support of Climate Tracker.

Doménica Montaño
Doménica is a journalist from Ecuador who loves to write stories about the environment, climate change, indigenous communities, and human rights. Her favorite story is one she wrote over a year ago about nine girls who sued the Ecuadorian state for violating their rights with the gas flaring systems that are still being used by oil companies in the Amazon. She’s very proud to say that that story was awarded an honorable mention in a human rights journalism competition.