Helen Clark: Opening speech at the Climate Summit Forests Pavilion United Nations

Sep 23, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

Opening speech at the
Climate Summit Forests Pavilion
United Nations, New York

I am pleased to welcome you to the UN Climate Summit Forests Pavilion.

A year ago Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked UNDP to facilitate the inclusion of Forests as a priority area of action at the Climate Summit. On behalf of FAO and UNEP and our partners in the UN-REDD Programme, and in collaboration with the World Bank, with whom we work closely, we were pleased to accept this task.

Everyone in this room knows how important the protection of forests is in the fight against climate change, in retaining biodiversity, and to the 1.6 billion people who depend on forests for their livelihoods.

It is therefore very encouraging to see the central place Forests have in today’s Summit, and the significance of the Forests announcements which will be unveiled in the formal Forest Action Area sessions at the Summit this afternoon, and which we will hear more about this morning.

A very impressive range of speakers will take the floor here today. It is inspiring to see how diverse actors are coming together in partnership: developed and developing countries, the private sector; sub-national governments; indigenous peoples, and civil society.

We need dialogue and action from all represented in this broad coalition to tackle deforestation effectively.

• Developing forest countries will need to implement and enforce land-use reforms, enabling them to grow their economies while managing their forests in a sustainable way;

• The international community as a whole needs to include large-scale economic incentives in the new climate agreement due to be agreed in Paris next year;

• The private sector needs to eliminate deforestation from its commodity supply chains; and

• indigenous peoples must be empowered to manage their lands and territories sustainably, as they have successfully done for generations.

The New York Declaration on Forests, which will be unveiled this afternoon, facilitates such an approach - establishing a pathway for each sector to play its role in reducing, halting, and reversing deforestation – and enabling forest restoration.

The Declaration is an ambitious statement of action by more than 150 countries, companies, indigenous peoples, civil society organizations, and sub-national governments. Its goal is to halve deforestation by 2020, and to end it completely by 2030.

The Declaration is ground breaking in its ambition. I congratulate and thank all those in this room who have helped drive the Declaration forward, and who have ensured that it has the endorsement of their countries, companies, communities, and organizations.

Through the New York Declaration:

• the private sector and governments endorsing it share the goal of eliminating deforestation from commodity production by 2020; and

• commit to the goal to restore forests on a land area larger than that of India by 2030.

If we succeed, this will be a remarkable contribution to the fight against climate change.

As you will hear this afternoon, the Declaration is backed up by a range of concrete commitments to act. Over the course of today we will hear from:

• Major companies which are committing to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains;

• Developed country governments which will push for large-scale economic incentives as part of the Paris climate talks in 2015;

• Governors of sub-national jurisdictions which have committed to cut deforestation rates by eighty per cent - if developed countries create new economic incentives;

• Indigenous peoples who are committing to continue to protect their forests in the service of climate change mitigation; and

• Countries which will commit to restore millions of hectares of degraded forest lands.

Change is happening, as the many announcements we will hear today illustrate, but, ultimately, success will depend on strong political will and leadership from all sectors.

We at UNDP are certainly committed to play our part, working alongside you all.

Now, before we hear from our distinguished speakers, we will screen a short film.

Thank you all for joining us today, and for the commitments you are making to end deforestation and restore degraded forests.

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