Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Closing remarks at 'Joining forces to achieve SDG15: Delivering on the Global Agenda for Forests, Climate and Development', COP22, Marrakesh

Nov 16, 2016

I would first like to thank our distinguished panel for this engaging discussion, and reflect on some of the thought-provoking interventions we have just heard.

Allow me now to share UNDP’s perspective on the topics discussed by the panel.

At the country level, we are confident that the work on REDD+, which UNDP is supporting, particularly through our successful UN-REDD partnership with FAO and UNEP, can serve as a model for how countries can design and scale up partnerships for sustainable development.

We believe that “Innovation through Integration” is going to be key to both achieve SDG 15 and ensure that the land sector contributes fully to our global climate change mitigation efforts. It means we need to make sure that our support on agriculture, forestry and other land uses or sectors align to the same purpose; and that what we do with one funding source is coherent with what we do with another. This innovative but simple approach consists of properly “connecting the dots”. 

Through our UN-REDD partnership, UNDP supports countries to develop national REDD+ strategies and investment plans that provide a coherent framework within which domestic fiscal policies and finance, as well as international finance for REDD+, can be integrated.

What emerges from these strategies, as we have heard, is that expansion of agriculture commodity production is currently the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation worldwide. Consumed by billions of people every day, palm oil, soy, beef and other global commodities are dominant economic forces in many national and local economies. With economic development, they are in ever-growing demand. We do want that economic development, but not at the cost of further pressure on our planet’s finite resources. This is why fixing one part of the supply chain while disregarding the rest will not work. Instead, we need national governments to lead in establishing effective policies, laws, incentives and enforcement systems across the whole value chain.

Realizing this, UNDP’s Green Commodities Programme (GCP) has successfully developed a methodology for setting up and running National Commodity Platforms, which offer neutral spaces where stakeholders, often for the first time, come together to constructively disagree until they reach a shared vision and identify concrete actions.

To date, UNDP has supported Costa Rica (for pineapple), Indonesia (for palm oil), Paraguay (for soy and beef), the Dominican Republic and Ghana (both for cocoa) to set up such Platforms in order  to start addressing sector-wide sustainability issues across these five highly traded commodities.

We have learned from this work that, beyond the environmental and social goals of the actors in these partnerships, the private sector is motivated by a number of key objectives, such as consumer demands, reputational and legal pressures, but also the need for more sustainable and stable supply chains.

UNDP also innovates through integration in Ecuador. Guided by the government’s REDD+ vision, UNDP is leveraging various programmes and support modalities (UN-REDD, GEF, and GCF) towards realizing the country’s land-based mitigation ambition, while tailoring each programme and support modality to different donor requirements.  This has resulted in the approval of the first ever GCF allocation (US$ 41.2 million) as co-finance for the implementation of REDD+ policies and measures.

While this could be considered large-scale financing, we have to recognize that REDD+ financing as an incentive mechanism is actually dwarfed by sector investments. For example, as highlighted in recent FAO and UNEP reports, the subsidies and other incentives towards agriculture –incentives that could be seen to promote deforestation through agricultural production– far outweigh the financial incentives towards conservation of forests. The reports state that agricultural subsidies are estimated approximately at around $200 billion annual subsidies per year.

Let me conclude by stressing that no sector can address deforestation unilaterally. In order to realize the full contribution of forests to sustainable development, we need a truly multi-stakeholder approach – with governments of developed and developing countries, governors of states and provinces, the private sector, indigenous peoples, civil society, and multilateral organizations working together. We need producers and consumers, we need financial instruments and agriculture extension, we need social policies and investments to align. Otherwise there is a risk that one will undo what the other tries to achieve.

To move forward we need to scale up action – continue to innovate, build and enhance partnerships to protect and restore our world’s forests. Thank you for your participation and attention.