Another voluntary initiative to halt deforestation is set to fail as the New York Declaration on Forests says its 200 members need to ‘dramatically escalate action’ in deforestation fight
NYDF signatories include corporates such as Unilever, Tesco, L’Oréal and Nestlé, along with 50 governments and the EU.
The failure to tackle
deforestation through voluntary pledges was revealed again last week as the New
York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) said it will be “impossible” for its
200-plus partners to achieve their 2020 goals.
declaration agreed between governments, companies, indigenous people
and civil society, the NYDF’s aim to halve natural forests loss by 2020 has
fallen woefully short, a progress report said in September.
“We are well short of meeting the
Declaration’s 2020 targets and will need to dramatically escalate funding and
action to achieve the 2030 targets,” Dr Andrew Steer, president and CEO at
World Resources Institute, wrote in the NYDF September report.
Signatories of the
NYDF include corporates such as Unilever, Tesco, L’Oréal and Nestlé, along with
50 governments and the EU.
However, the commitments have
largely proved hollow. The rate of global tree cover loss increased 43% between
2000 and 2018 as opposed to decreasing toward the NYDF goal.
The report added that since the
NYDF was endorsed at the 2014 UN Climate Summit annual humid tropical primary
forest loss stands at 4.3 million hectares (ha) per year, a 44% increase on the yearly
average seen between 2000 and 2013.
“If we want to limit climate
change, we must avoid irreversible losses of biodiversity, bring degraded land
back into productivity, and respect the rights, livelihoods and cultures of
forest peoples,” the report noted.
The “high political will”
expressed by NYDF members to implement ambitious reforestation plans has failed
to result in meaningful action.
170 million ha of land – 20 million ha greater than the NYDF goal – was pledged by members to be reforested
but to date, the restoration of forests stands at a meagre 26.7 million ha.
The sobering assessment by the NYDF
reflects failures of several other voluntary-led schemes designed to stem
A 2010 commitment made by the
Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and its members – many of whom signed on to
the NYDF – to end deforestation in global supply chains by 2020 has also missed
Recent Greenpeace analysis of
the zero-deforestation pledge said that CGF endorsers had “wasted a decade on
half-measures and in that time vast areas of the natural world have been
Meanwhile, the CEO of the
Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA), a public-private partnership of similar ilk to
the NYDF, announced this year that
the TFA “will fall short” of its own 2020 anti-deforestation aims, and that the
organisation was “naïve” to think voluntary action alone could eradicate global
Multinational companies and
governments are facing increasing pressure from civil society and the public to
address deforestation issues more robustly.
A European Commission
Communication, published in July and aimed at eliminating global deforestation
– theoretically to help deliver on its NYDF pledge, continued to focus on more
‘voluntary’ corporate actions of the type the NYDF report found to be
While the EC Communication did
posit the possibility of new binding EU-wide regulation to
exclude deforestation-laced goods from the EU single market, it has yet to
commit to this possibility.
In August numerous NGOs and some
EU governments called for delays in the implementation of the EU-Mercosur Free
Trade Agreement as a strategy to pressure Brazil to stop rampant deforestation
and increased fires in the Amazon.