NYDF Five-Year Progress Assessment: Despite high ambitions, we are failing our forests

NYDF Five-Year Progress Assessment: Despite high ambitions, we are failing our forests

Global progress on reducing deforestation and restoring natural forests has not kept pace with the scale of commitments and the need for climate mitigation. The latest New York Declaration on Forests Progress Assessment report – released in the run-up to the fifth anniversary of the Declaration itself – identifies major gaps in implementation of commitments to end deforestation in commodity supply chains, channel finance to forest protection, and strengthen forest governance. 

World continues to lose forests at accelerating rates 
The world continues to lose forests at accelerating rates – especially primary forests in tropical countries – moving us further away from achieving the NYDF’s 2020 targets. By and large, we have not addressed the underlying factors that drive deforestation, such as economic and political incentives to exploit and destroy forests at the expense of long-term climate stability. Despite having a large potential to contribute to climate change mitigation, forests receive very little direct finance. Since 2010, around USD 22 billion of finance has been committed to activities with a positive impact on forests in tropical countries with high deforestation – about half the amount that was spent on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

All efforts have not resulted in the transformational change
While the overall picture of progress is bleak, this does not mean that nothing is happening. Some companies are taking measures to lower their risks of sourcing from deforestation areas and to improve the overall traceability and transparency of their supply chains. Recently, the first REDD+ results-based payments have been announced. And indigenous peoples are slowly gaining more recognition as essential forest protectors –  but these efforts have not resulted in the transformational change we need. 

The recent reductions in deforestation in Indonesia – where a confluence of factors including strong forest-protection policies, private sector action, and natural factors like weather conditions contributed to this success – are a good indication that achieving the NYDF goals is possible, but will take urgent and collective action.

The New York Declaration on Forests, endorsed at the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2014, is a voluntary political declaration with over 200 endorsers - including countries, subnational governments, companies, indigenous groups, and NGOs - with ambitious targets to end forest loss and restore 350 million hectares of degraded forestlands by 2030.

Climate Focus coordinates the NYDF Assessment Partners – a network of civil society and research groups mandated with tracking progress toward the ten goals of the NYDF until 2020. Together, the partners annually conduct the NYDF Progress Assessment, consisting of (1) an in-depth report looking at progress on a selected goal or theme and (2) brief updates on all the goals.