As Only Proven, Large-Scale Solution Available to Sequester Carbon, Forests Central to Meeting Climate Objectives

Apr 19, 2016

In advance of high-level UN Climate Agreement Signing, briefing to feature indigenous leaders from forested regions, Alec Baldwin, UNDP’s Helen Clark, forest expert Frances Seymour, and Alex Soros

A significant number of governments will sign the Paris Agreement on 22 April, which includes an explicit call to developed and developing countries to conserve and enhance forests and other biological carbon reservoirs. If governments representing at least 55 percent of the global annual carbon emissions ratify the Agreement, it will go into force. But, even if the big greenhouse gas emitters—China, India and US—walk the talk, the world will still need strong commitments to forests in order to reach the stated climate objectives.

Currently, forest and land use contribute only 25 percent of the total emissions reductions pledged so far by governments in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Agreement, but they could contribute much more, given their huge potential to act as carbon sinks, safely removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

In light of this, indigenous leaders and experts in tropical forest research, together with climate change activist and actor Alec Baldwin and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, will discuss new research on how forest conservation and restoration on a global scale can help to limit warming to below two degrees Celsius and achieve global carbon neutrality. They will also discuss the implications of the formal signing of the Paris Climate Agreement.

WHO:   Alec Baldwin, Actor and Activist
            Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP
            Diana Rios, Indigenous Ashaninka Leader, Peru
            Mina Setra, Indigenous Dayak Leader, Indonesia
            Frances Seymour, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
            Alexander Soros, Founder, Alexander Soros Foundation
            Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

WHEN: Thursday 21 April, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (Breakfast at 8:30 a.m.)

WHERE: Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd St, New York, NY 10017, East River Room (11th Floor)

Secure rights to indigenous and community-held land protect against deforestation and can generate significant large-scale returns—economically, socially and environmentally. New research on the status of land rights in country commitments (NDCs) will also be released. Forests owned and managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities contain approximately 37.7 billion tons of carbon—29 times more than the annual emissions of the world’s passenger vehicles.

Despite government and corporate commitments to respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and prevent deforestation, there has been an uptick in violence against indigenous leaders who oppose projects that threaten their communities and their forests. The murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras last month; of Edwin Chota, Jorge Rios, and two other Asheninka leaders in Peru in 2014; and the 26 March attack on Equator Prize 2015 winner from Cambodia, Ms. Phan Sopheak, are emblematic of battles taking place in some of the most remote indigenous territories worldwide. Rios’ daughter, Diana, will be among the speakers at the event.


To request interviews or attend briefing, please contact:
Ellen Wilson:; +1 301 466 3205 or
Josh Cinelli:; +1 212 573 4879

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